By Heidi Scott Giusto, PhD
LinkedIn is the networking platform for professionals. With 660 million individual users and 30 million businesses on the platform, it’s safe to say a presence on LinkedIn is necessary for almost everyone. You can use the following tips to kick off the new year with a standout LinkedIn profile.
Develop a Clear Strategy
Many people have profiles on LinkedIn because … they know they are supposed to. This strategy is not adequate. Simply put, there are too many opportunities in LinkedIn for professionals to sit on the sidelines. Here are a few questions to help you develop a LinkedIn strategy:
• How often can you plan on actively using LinkedIn? Every day? Once a week?
• How will you grow and nurture your network?
• What topics will you post on? How will you ensure you post regularly and add value to your network? (Hint: creating a posting schedule can work wonders.)
Stay Current on New Sections and Other Features
LinkedIn made changes in the past year, so users should be aware of these updates to take full advantage of the platform. Overall, LinkedIn is trending toward becoming more of a mobile and content platform, so it is best to not think of your LinkedIn profile as a static document or simply an “online resume.” Some of the more prominent changes include the following:
“Featured” section. This section helps make your profile more dynamic because you can “pin” posts, websites, and other media you would like to feature. This section appears directly below the “About” section, meaning it is prime real estate in your profile that appears even before your work experience.
Stories. In the mobile app, you can record and view Stories similar to Instagram Stories. This is a new way to share content using videos.
Name pronunciation. In the app only, LinkedIn users can record a pronunciation of their name, but have the option to listen to the recording in both the mobile and desktop versions. This is particularly helpful to ensure proper pronunciation of a person’s name when an online connection converts to a conversation or interview.
#OpentoWork profile photo banner. If you have not seen this feature yet, it is a green banner that encircles a user’s profile photo with the words “#OpentoWork.” I am not in love with this feature for two reasons. First, I’ve heard recruiters say that this banner does not influence whether they will look at a person’s profile. So, at least in my small sample, it doesn’t seem to prompt more views by people who are looking to fill roles. Second, it feels desperate to me. In the same way I don’t instruct candidates to write “Actively seeking new opportunities” in the headline section immediately under the profile picture, I cannot yet promote use of this feature. I will continue to monitor it and perhaps change my mind later if I hear positive feedback.
Enhance Visual Appeal
No one should have a visually boring profile! There are many easy ways to make your LinkedIn profile “pop” aesthetically. Here are a few:
Use a professional profile photo. This one is a must. Making sure you look professional and approachable is a key way to improve your profile. You can solicit unbiased feedback from sources like Photofeeler.
Frame your profile photo. A nice way to make your profile photo stand out is to add a border. Profile Picture Maker enables users to do just that.
Emphasize text using bold or italics. You can selectively choose words to make bold or italicize in your profile or posts by typing your text into a “fancy font generator” and then copying and pasting it into your profile. (There are many fancy font generators online.) You can also experiment with different fonts, but I recommend sticking with bold and italics. Less can be more with this approach; remember that if everything is in bold or italics, then nothing stands out.
Customize the background banner. You can use a stock photo, a photo you’ve taken, or use a design tool to brand your background banner. Canva is a great tool that allows you to customize a background image and include text on it; there are countless design options using Canva’s free version.
LinkedIn’s ever-evolving features ensure that it will continue to offer incredible value to active users, even for the majority of people who do not pay for a Premium account. The tips above merely touch on the ways you can use the platform to create a profile that stands out from the crowd.
About Heidi Scott Giusto, PhD
Heidi owns and operates Career Path Writing Solutions, a communications consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals and businesses succeed when the stakes are high. She delights in helping job seekers navigate career change and guiding business owners to present their value proposition persuasively. Heidi earned her PhD in history from Duke University and teaches professional development for various university programs. She holds certifications in resume writing, interview preparation, and empowerment coaching, and sits on the Certification Committee of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.
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