How to market yourself online with LinkedIn

LinkedIn was launched on May 5, 2003, home to 4500 members.

It now boasts over 145 million users in over 200 countries worldwide.

LinkedIn is the professional network.

There’s no question that LinkedIn is the place to be for professionals everywhere. It offers the perfect interface to network with people in your industry, people who you would otherwise not be able to meet. Quite simply if you’re a professional and you’re not there, you should be.

Unfortunately though, LinkedIn seems to have become somewhat “over-professional” and is being labelled by many as boring. I recently discussed its lack of sex appeal in my post on the threat posed by Facebook and Google+ but today I want to talk about how to make sure your LinkedIn profile isn’t dull and isn’t being treated like a resume.

So, it’s time for a change.

We now live in a time where managing your reputation online is essential, not only for businesses but, for job seekers and professionals as well. If you can maintain and improve your e-reputation then you stand a far greater chance of getting employed (or keeping your current job!). You need to market yourself to your network and your LinkedIn profile is the perfect way to do so.

Let’s start with what a lot of LinkedIn users have been doing wrong.

As I have mentioned already, many LinkedIn users have filled out their profile in exactly the same way as they did their resume. People don’t want to only see a list of what you’ve done, nor do they want to see an uninteresting few bullet points of who you are. The point of your LinkedIn profile is not to copy and paste the exact information from the standard CV that you’ve been sending out to every employer (and you shouldn’t be sending out the same CV to different jobs either but that’s a different point). The chances are that, if you have done this, you will have forgotten to add keywords as well and therefore you are making it very difficult for people to find you. Finally, some users have not recognized LinkedIn as a professional network and therefore have uploaded a profile picture which I can only describe as inappropriate. Your picture is the first thing people look at so if you don’t look professional, it will only have negative consequences. You may be missing out on potential connections so remember not to make these mistakes.

But if your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be used as a resume, then what should it be? And how can you fix the problem and better market yourself online?

Well, instead of just telling people who you are, your LinkedIn profile should represent who you hope to be and what you hope achieve. It’s all about marketing yourself to your potential network. I mentioned keywords, and I can’t stress the importance of these enough. By converting your skills, education, goals and even interests into keywords you are allowing people to find you more easily. However, be careful not to use the generic keywords which everyone will use. Think of some which are specific to your industry, words that the industry professionals are likely to type in their search engine. Of course you want to include your most important keyword in your headline to maximize your chances of being found.

I also mentioned the profile picture. It is statistically proven that the first thing a person looks at on a profile (on any social network) is your profile picture. You need to represent yourself as a professional. People always ask why they can’t represent their personality in their picture and why they have to look so serious and business-like. Well, that’s not what I’m saying. Just because you’re wearing a suit doesn’t mean you can’t smile. All you need to remember is that people will make a spilt-second judgement of you when they see you for the first time, so don’t let it be when you’re sunbathing on the beach! (Or something equally as unprofessional).

The next point of key importance is actually similar to what you should be doing on your CV. Think about what job you want to aim for and take a look at your employment history. One thing that is essential on your CV is being relevant to the job that you are applying for and you should take that into account when completing your LinkedIn profile. You only want to include work experience which is relevant. For example, writing a detailed description about how you worked in a bar some years ago when you are applying for a job as a management consultant isn’t really worth putting. In fact, it can be pejorative because it may act as a distraction. So, make sure your employment history is simple, easy to read and well laid out.

Another essential addition to your profile, which is guaranteed to help you improve your marketability, is getting recommendations. Now, most people are aware that most recommendations come about by you physically asking someone for them, but that doesn’t matter. Recommendations can help back up everything you’ve said about yourself and, according to the experts, people tend to trust them.

Finally, one thing that might not have come across perfectly yet is your personality. You’ve focussed on everything LinkedIn has set specific titles for but now you should try to include something which shows your passion, your enthusiasm and your ambition. Tell people what you love and what you want to achieve (A few keywords added into this can also prove beneficial).

So there are a few things you can do to market yourself better on LinkedIn.

Just remember your LinkedIn profile isn’t your CV. It is the perfect opportunity to market yourself to an ever-expanding network of professionals. So give your profile a personality and increase your chances of getting the job you want.

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2 Comments

  1. I agree with many of your points, but I do think the CV/resume and the LinkedIn profile should be closely aligned (although not the same). There should be some cutting and pasting because it ensures the reader can see you understand that consistency has to be applied in the career marketing effort. True, LinkedIn should portray more personality, but then CV’s/resumes shouldn’t be inert documents either. Also, the photo is a chance to look unique and creative, but not odd. It’s a fine line to tread, but judgement and positioning is all part of the marketing mix. Best to get strong reactions (as long as at least half of them are positive) than get everybody saying “that’s ok” and passing by.

    Finally, I realised today that the LinkedIn profile is now probably more important than the CV/Resume. Indeed I wrote my own blog piece earlier at http://fastheadhunter.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/warning-candidates-your-linkedin-profile-is-at-least-as-important-as-your-cv/

    Thanks for the provocation. I enjoy the stimulation.

    Reply
  2. I think what you said about it being a fine line is spot on. You want to seem professional but not boring and it isn’t an easy thing to do.

    For me, the main similarities that a CV and LinkedIn profile should have are about being relevant to the work you want to do. However, it isn’t impossible to get your personality across in a CV and that is one thing job seekers have to remember.

    The problem lies in the fact that everybody is different, reacts differently to your profile and that there is no such thing as the perfect LinkedIn profile or the perfect CV.

    I think you’ve made some key points in your article in terms of the 3 types of LinkedIn user and it is possible that your profile on LinkedIn can be more important than your CV. As the world becomes more social and connected than ever predicted, the CV may even become extinct in the future. However, this is not quite happening yet. Although LinkedIn has been around for a while and it has over 135 million users, it never ceases to amaze me how many people neglect it.

    So, in terms of your LinkedIn profile being more important than your CV, I would say yes it is in many circles but it remains irrelevant in certain industries and the CV is not dead yet.

    Reply

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