With over 300 million members from over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the largest database of business professionals ever assembled. According to LinkedIn, there were over 5.7 billion searches done on the site last year. But what are they looking for, and, more importantly, what are they seeing if they find YOU?
LinkedIn users are typically trying to find someone who can help them accomplish a specific business goal. Perhaps they need a new employee, supplier, vendor, strategic partner or investor. Maybe they’re looking for new clients or customers. Some users are seeking donors or volunteers for their nonprofit organization. Perhaps they’re looking for someone like YOU.
But will you be proud of what they see when they find your LinkedIn profile? Is your business objective clearly delineated? Will the reader be encouraged to contact you based on the information he/she finds on your profile?
Most LinkedIn profiles fall into two categories. They’re either a bare-bones outline of a person’s background or simply an online resume. Neither one is likely to spark the reader to engage with the profile’s author.
How to create an engaging LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is meant to be much more than a resume. In reality, it’s your most important online personal branding statement. When someone searches for you online, your LinkedIn profile is usually at the top of the search results, and it’s important to make a good first impression.
Creating a top-notch profile should be your first priority on LinkedIn, and it’s easier to do than you might think.
As you begin to develop a strategy for creating your profile, two of the most important components should be keywords and stories. Keywords will improve your search ranking, and the stories you include will increase the likelihood that viewers of your profile will choose to engage with you.
What keywords should you include in your profile?
Because LinkedIn is a search engine, everything revolves around the searcher using the right words to search for the person he/she is seeking. Therefore, if you want people to find you on LinkedIn, you will need to include the right keywords in your profile. Without the correct keywords, you will not come up in the search list. The specific placement of those keywords is also important.
For example, if one of your areas of expertise is individual tax return preparation, then you should include phrases like individual income tax preparation, personal income tax preparation, income tax preparer, etc.
Basically, you should include the words you think people will use when “Googling” for people like you.
For more specific details on developing your personal keyword strategy, download Keywords: The Key To Being Found on LinkedIn.
How should you tell your professional story?
If I read your LinkedIn profile, will I immediately know you are someone who can help me accomplish my objective(s)? LinkedIn is all about connecting people who can help each other. Thus, it’s important to start by clearly defining who you want to meet—your target audience. You then need to include in your profile stories that will encourage your target audience to choose you over others who claim to provide the same or similar products and services.
For example, if you’re an insurance agency, your typical target audience may include business owners, home and auto owners and trucking companies. Therefore, make sure the information you share (stories) in your profile highlights the experience and expertise you have that can help them accomplish their goals (e.g., home owners—recover quickly after a storm tore their roof off). This will increase the likelihood that they will connect with you online or perhaps request a personal conversation or meeting.
Other items you should consider including on your profile include:
- Detailed job experience descriptions
- Specializations or designations
- Awards you’ve received
- Recommendations from current and past clients (keeping confidentiality in mind)
- Certifications you have earned
- Articles you have written
- Board positions (for-profit and nonprofit)
Because you only have one opportunity to make a first impression, it’s extremely important to have a top-notch profile. A bare-bones profile suggests you might provide mediocre service.
To help you create a first-class profile, I’ve prepared a guide titled LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Accountants. This checklist, along with my book The Power Formula For LinkedIn Success, will guide you down the road to LinkedIn success.
About Wayne Breitbarth
Wayne is a nationally recognized industry leader in LinkedIn training and marketing and author of the best-selling book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success. He works with companies to develop a comprehensive strategy for using LinkedIn to increase sales, raise brand awareness, recruit employees and reduce recruiting fees, and discover new markets for products and services.
Wayne’s online training course, Explode Your Revenues Using LinkedIn, has received rave reviews. For more details, visit www.powerformula.net/explode.