Developing a LinkedIn profile is a great step towards building your social media footprint. LinkedIn is a professional social networking application. LinkedIn users tend to be more affluent and very well educated. 57% of users are men and 43% are women with 72% of users over the age 35. According to a May 2009 survey, 82% of total users have a college degree and 30% of LinkedIn users are savvy networkers who earn more than $90,000 per year. 69% of users read blogs, and 9% maintain their own blogs.
Benefits of LinkedIn:
- Able to build a network. LinkedIn makes it much easier to keep in touch with contacts. This is a great way to generate warm leads and access potential partners.
- Access to research. Having access to your contacts’ and/or targets’ resumes and background. This information tells you not only where they have worked, but also their educational background and professional organizations to which they belong.
- Acceptable self-promotion. Be sure your profile highlights your best assets and current projects to attract people with whom you would want to be associated.
- Promote your events. LinkedIn allows you to put your rolodex on steroids. You can reach out to contacts all at once to promote your latest projects, activities and events.
- Job leads. LinkedIn helps you develop your network, which will be key if you are searching for a job or need to post one. LinkedIn is a great source for job leads and tools to track down connections at a particular company.
Below is a step-by-step instruction sheet for completing a LinkedIn profile. The information you provide will appear on your public profile on LinkedIn. Your phone number and email addresses will only be shared with your direct contacts.
To Complete Your LinkedIn Profile
- Go to LinkedIn.com.
- Sign up for an account.
- Choose a password.
Full name: (Catherine Smith) (no place for middle initial, they are not used)
Display name: (Cathy Smith) Optional: if nothing is specified, LinkedIn will use full name
Phone # with extension:
Former or maiden name: (Optional: but helps people who know you from college or job in the past can find and connect with you)
Headshot photo: Jpeg format–This should be a nice, smiling photo of you.
Create a Professional headline:
Examples: Experienced Transportation Executive, Web Designer and Information Architect, Visionary Entrepreneur and Investor. People also often include CEO, CFO, or Consultant etc. It is one of the first thing people see in your profile.
Zip code: this puts you in a metro region — use your work zip code, unless home or other Zip code is more appropriate.
Industry: Sample Options: Law Practice, Legal Services, Lobbying, Education Management, Public Policy Expert – Other industries are available.
(All of these sections have unstated word limits, so be brief, but thorough.)
Summary: Summarize your professional experience in paragraph form. This is your chance to provide an engaging 30-second description that highlights who you are and what you do– think of it as your personal elevator pitch. (This section is limited to somewhere around 325 words.)
Specialties: The specialties field allows you to list your areas of expertise that will help potential clients find you when they are looking for a specific skill-set or knowledge-base.. 60 words max, but less is fine too.
Experience: Your position descriptions should briefly explain what the company does, and your main responsibilities and accomplishments. Be sure to include the exact time period – the month and year of your start and end date. Use clear, succinct phrases to streamline your information down to precise bullet points that highlight your talent and accomplishments.
Education: Make sure your profile lists any universities, colleges, advanced degree institutions, fellowships, and any certificate programs. Be sure to provide any additional notes on your experience at each institution. Examples: Alpha Phi Alpha, Chamber Chorale, Debate Team
Additional Information: The additional information profile element allows you to give users more insight into your professional qualifications by providing the following:
- Web or social networking profile URLs – Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, groups etc. All you need is the URL http://twitter.com/username etc.
- Websites: list a link to your company website
- Interests: list the things that you enjoy doing, learning about, etc. These can be a mix of personal and professional interests.
- Groups and Associations: list professional organizations or display badges of LinkedIn groups that you are a part of.
- Honors and Awards
Recommendations: In order to get a 100% profile on LinkedIn, you will need to secure three recommendations. Start thinking about who you can request recommendations from. It can be current or former employers or colleagues, clients and or associates with whom you have done volunteer service. You must be connected to a person in LinkedIn in order to receive a recommendation.
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Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Expert and Social Media Coach who hosts #smallbizchat on Twitter. #Smallbizchat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business. Melinda’s first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 months! A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works! will be released by Adams Media in March 2010.