The Ins and Outs of LinkedIn

By Christine Brown, Intern

When first staring to use LinkedIn, it does not look like that complicated of a site. You log in and LinkedIn has a counter that tracks your completion on your profile. It is straight forward and asks for things such as current position, past positions, education, website, experience, interests and the list goes on. However, you begin to run into issues. Is that too much information? Did I put enough information? How far in the past should I go? Should I mention every extracurricular I have done? These questions are among the many that plague the minds of students, recent graduates and pretty much anyone using LinkedIn. It is a great tool, but there is an art to using it. So how can your page stand out from the vast array of others? Thankfully, Jeff Haden from BNet.com has written a helpful article, “How to Create a LinkedIn Profile That Really Connects.”

There are four different types of profiles. One is “stealth”. This has an individual’s name, position information and that is about as specific as these individuals get. I am guessing that people that have profiles like these had LinkedIn thrown at them and told that he or she needs to make a profile. They created one just to say they have it and forgot about it. Even though these people have a profile. it does not mean that it is magically going to work for them and these profiles are rarely ever seen. The next is the “resume-speak” profile. It is essentially a carbon copy of one’s profile on LinkedIn. There is no personality with this profile and it gives little information about the individual. Another is “third-person professional.” These people have others write their profiles for them or over exaggerate the size of the company. Sooner or later potential clients or employers are going to see through the façade that these individuals have created. Lastly, there is the “I before (s)he.” Haden sums this up saying, “Real people, real achievements, real connections.” I could not have said it better myself.

If you fit any of those areas, there is still hope for you. Through six steps that Haden writes about your LinkedIn profile can be heading in the right direction. Step 1: Think of your summary as an elevator pitch. If you look at my profile I do not have a summary because I have no idea what to put in that area. Asking someone to summarize him or herself is easier said than done. Summary could mean anything. Where do you even start to explain yourself? A good way to think about it is if you had thirty seconds, how would you grab someone’s attention. It could be through the usage of individual words or a paragraph. As long as it is something that will grab and hold the readers attention then it is successful. Step 2: Think first person. Since the beginning of my education path I have been scolded time and time again for writing in first person. It is a fault of mine. However, LinkedIn recommends that you do this. Make your profile personal. What have you done? What can you do for your reader? Imagine as if you are having a conversation with your reader and you are telling them all of these things about yourself. Step 3: Write it yourself. Some companies have people who are in control of the social media for all of the employees. Even though this individual may be the best social media aficionado that you know, he or she does not know you as well as you know you. Remember that. Step 4: Think keywords. Many people find profiles through searches. Your profile should have certain words that will draw users to your page. The keyword can bring them to your page, but it is your job to keep them there. Step 5: Stick to two or three paragraphs. You do not want your entire life story on your profile. Leave the reader with questions about you so that he or she is interested in you and wants to further that connection. Step 6: Revise. You are always changing. Therefore your profile should model after that. You may find out that something on your profile really does not work. Change it and adapt.

Your LinkedIn profile is not your resume, but it is way more. It is a look at who you are as a person. So show the professional world how interesting you are and make them want to link in with you.

The article can be found at: http://www.bnet.com/blog/small-biz-advice/how-to-create-a-linkedin-profile-that-really-connects/3025

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