LinkedIn Profile Optimization For Dummies
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Your LinkedIn profile is your digital identity. Of all the social media profiles out there, LinkedIn's profile is the most in-depth and provides a comprehensive overview of you as a professional person. When people search your name in a search engine, your LinkedIn profile is often returned high in the search results.

When it comes to creating a professionally impressive profile that helps you collide with opportunity, here are ten Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind.

Do Use a Professional Profile Picture

The picture on your LinkedIn profile is your public face to your network and the world. It's imperative that it presents you in the absolutely best light. If your budget allows, get a professional photo taken in a photographer's studio. If your budget doesn't allow for it, enlist a friend to take a photo. Make sure you are dressed professionally and the background isn't messy, busy, or distinct. Position yourself near a window to ensure a well-lit image.

The camera should be at eye level — not at too high of an angle nor too low of an angle. Look directly into the camera lens and smile. Have the photographer take numerous shots. Usually the winning image is snapped toward the end of the photo session, right when you start to feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Don't Use LinkedIn's Default Headline

LinkedIn automatically populates your headline with your current job title and company name. You couldn't pick a worse headline if you tried! Ditch LinkedIn's default and create a compelling headline — infused with your keywords — that gets your target audience to open your profile and read more.

Do Turn Off Your Update Notifications

Before performing any major updates to your profile, make sure your activity update notifications are turned off. You don't want to inundate your network with change notifications! To turn off update notifications, toggle the Notify Your Network switch that appears on the right sidebar within your LinkedIn profile from On to Off. Once off, you can make changes quietly — LinkedIn will not send updates to your network via email, nor will your changes show up as status updates on your connections' LinkedIn newsfeed.

Do Use Eye-Catching Symbols Sparingly

LinkedIn doesn't allow any formatting within your profile. This means you can't bold or italicize text, create links, or even have a bulleted list. However, you can copy and paste ASCII symbols into your profile to create visual flair. Choose one or two symbols and use them where you want to attract attention to your profile. This might be around your call to action and contact information, or before an accomplishment.

Less is more when it comes to symbols. Whatever you do, don't go overboard, splashing tons of different symbols throughout your profile. Regardless of how great the content might be, too many symbols may cheapen your profile and may make people not take you seriously.

Do Include Your Contact Information

The Contact Information section of your LinkedIn profile is only visible to your first-degree network of connections. If a second-degree connection, third-degree connection, group connection, someone outside of your network, or someone not on LinkedIn views your profile, they will not see your contact information.

LinkedIn is all about business networking and opportunity development. In order for people to reach out to you, they need to have your contact information. Make sure it's easy for people to reach out by including your contact information not just within the Contact Information section, but throughout your profile.

At the end of your LinkedIn summary, at the end of your current experience, and within the Advice for Contacting section, add your phone number and/or email address. Let people know you are serious by allowing them to contact you off LinkedIn.

Do Add Multimedia Files

Add work examples to your profile to further showcase who you are and what you do. Upload presentations, images, documents, videos, and more to your LinkedIn profile so readers of your profile can get a more robust view of you as a professional. Decide what your target audience would like to see from you and add it. Rich media can be linked to or uploaded to the Summary, Experience, and Education sections.

Don't Stuff Keywords

Strategically placing keywords into your LinkedIn profile is a great way to increase the likelihood of your profile turning up in searches. Although you might be tempted, don't stuff your profile with keywords. Instead, work the keywords into your profile naturally and organically. Profiles that are stuffed with keywords might rank well initially, but they quickly get deleted by LinkedIn. Keyword-stuffed profiles impress no one, and when it's clear you are gaming the system, people click away.

Don't Go Back 30 Years

You don't need to detail your complete work trajectory. Business has changed drastically over the last 30 years. Highlighting your IT accomplishments from 1985 doesn't prepare you for anything today. Your LinkedIn profile should align you with your career future. If you want to showcase your deep history, consolidate all past positions prior to 1985 into one experience. Your history is important, but what really moves mountains is what you did lately.

Do Get Recommendations

Recommendations listed on your LinkedIn profile provide social proof around your accomplishments and background. To get recommendations, you need to ask people to give you recommendations. In fact, if you want to truly make sure that those recommendations are posted to your profile, write the recommendation for the person.

There is no such thing as too many LinkedIn recommendations; although, you should make sure that the recommendations posted to your profile are current, align with your objectives, and are authentically given.

Do Add Interests

Within the Additional Information section of your profile is where you can list your interests. Don't skip this area of your profile. People do business with people. By adding interests, you show you are human and allow your reader to see what you have in common together. Shared interests allow you to forge a quicker, deeper rapport with your reader.

Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network, but don't skip the Interests section. By providing some insight as to who you are as a person, your business connections may feel a stronger connection to you, which may spur more business and career opportunities.

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