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How to Set-up a Stand-out LinkedIn Profile, Part 1

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We are living in an attention economy. Last week I began my four-part series on “A Strong Professional Internet Presence is for Everyone in 2010” with Part 1—Why? I discussed why a strong professional network is valuable to everyone whether they are looking for a job, looking for an internship, looking to enter the work force for the first time out of college, looking to compete more effectively in their current position, or looking for clients for their new or existing business. Part 1 presented a real world look at the competitive need for a professional Internet presence. Purposeful and thoughtful networking helps ensure accomplishment of professional goals and business success for anyone in any industry at any level. Consider a “professional profile” to have the meaning of “for all employment levels in any vocation with a desire to network.” A LinkedIn profile is beneficial for everyone, not just white collar or management or degreed. Part 2 of the series provides practical guidelines to setting up a stand-out LinkedIn profile. 


In an attention economy, the squeaky wheel does not necessarily get the grease—or the job or the new client. In an attention economy, it is only positive attention that increases your favorability factors for success. Negative attention can in fact doom your professional prospects just like a poorly written or incomplete resume can. Positive professional attention starts with a good public Internet presence which starts with an interesting, honest, complete, and interactive online professional profile. An online professional profile is your resume PLUS to potential employers, potential clients, and potential networking connections. It is a resume PLUS, for it includes connections, recommendations, interests, and connectivity in addition to the traditional resume work experience and background. As noted in Part 1, there are several all professional social networking websites with LinkedIn being the most significant at this time. I use LinkedIn, and since it is the most widely used with 55 million users, I have followed the LinkedIn profile format in the following resume PLUS set-up guidelines. The points made in my guidelines would of course easily apply to any professional profile website.  


First, a few overall LinkedIn profile guidelines: 


  • Just like in preparing a traditional resume be honest and accurate. A profile on LinkedIn is your online resume, and it is a verifiable representation of you.
  • Pay attention to the details. Double-check the spelling, grammar, and capitalization and punctuation consistency. 
  • LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or MySpace. It’s great to have a sense of humor, but keep the presentation of you (profile, statuses, comments, and email) professional at all times. Consider my LinkedIn test—Would you say it to an HR Manager or potential client? It’s a plus to be creative and to reveal a great personality, but keep it professional.
  • Provide a full name in your profile. If you don’t want to have a named professional presence, why did you bother to put a profile on LinkedIn?
  • Include an email address and phone number whether personal or strictly through your company. Contact availability is an important part of networking.
  • If you do not provide input in a format category, that section will not display in your profile. Complete all sections if possible.
  • Allow InMail and Connections. No one is too important to not professionally network. If you are not open to connections, why are you on LinkedIn?
  • Allow connections to be browsed by others. It is networking after all. Be collaborative and provide two-way networking.
  • Set your account privacy to everyone. Unlike the intelligent desire for some privacy on pure social networks, you want as many eyes as possible on your LinkedIn profile especially if you are looking for a job or new clients. (More detail in Part 3.)
  • Sign up for a public Google profile, a Yahoo public profile, and a Twitter account. They are all free and can be used in your LinkedIn profile to increase interactivity in the website category especially if you are just starting out or unemployed right now. (More detail in Part 4.)
  • Signing up with LinkedIn and having a basic profile account is free. You may upgrade to the premium service if desired; however, I don’t recommend this expenditure at first or if you are unemployed. Ensure your LinkedIn public profile URL link contains your actual profile name to maximize consistency in your Internet presence. For example, my LinkedIn profile name is Brenda Krueger Huffman. My LinkedIn public profile URL is LinkedIn.com/in/brendahuffman.
  • Keep your name and photo consistent in all professional profiles and URL links as much as possible when setting these up. This will come into play in the quality of your overall Internet presence. (More detail in Part 4.) For example, my Google profile URL is google.com/profiles/brendakruegerhuffman; my personal Facebook is facebook.com/brendakruegerhuffman; my professional Facebook is facebook.com/socialmediawriter.brendakruegerhuffman; and my Twitter is twitter.com/bkruegerhuffman.


How To Set-up an Effective LinkedIn Profile:
Name: Provide a full name including for your display name. Use the same name you would use on an actual resume including middle initial to distinguish yourself from others with the same name. There is an option for former maiden name. I recommend utilizing this feature if you have been married less than five years or the majority of your work experience years were under your maiden name. 


Professional Headline: You may type in a custom professional headline. If you do not customize, the title of your current position will be automatically pulled from the Experience section. If you are currently unemployed, please do not use the title I see often—“XXXXX at Unemployed.” I believe this unconsciously discounts you at first glance and in group discussions somewhat. There are many places on LinkedIn to more directly advertise you are unemployed and looking for a position with recruiters and companies. (More detail in Part 3.) As an example, the professional headline “Senior Sales Manager” or “Senior Sales Manager—Open to Relocation” is better. Forego the limiting industry indicator or employment search objective in the headline space if you are unemployed. 


If you are in college, use your area of study. You may include the name of your college and pending graduation year. Watch the cutesy or over used descriptions. I know creative titles were quite popular in the dot.com boom of the nineties to reflect certain new-breed coolness. Chief IT Vision Sculpture and Customer Happiness Director would be a no. In the reality of ageism choose a more modern headline description than Guru (1960-70s images) and Pioneer (1800s image). I like strategist and innovator as replacement descriptions.

Zip Code: LinkedIn will automatically fill in the geographic region in your profile from this. My zip code is for Naperville which is a western suburb of Chicago. LinkedIn filled in “Greater Chicago.” 

Part 1 ?(Part 2)

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