When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? LinkedIn is a handy networking tool, but it can also be useful for job searching, recruiting, thought leadership and lead generation. With over 530 million LinkedIn users worldwide, your profile will reach a large audience. Shouldn’t you make sure it stands out from all the others and helps you attain your goals.

Optimize Your Profile

Optimization is about increasing your visibility in search engine results. It’s important to regularly review your profile to ensure you are taking full advantage of its potential. Here are some tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile:

Know Your Purpose

What are your goals for using LinkedIn? Are you looking for a job? Hoping to generate leads? Think about what you want to accomplish with your LinkedIn presence. A clear purpose will help ensure your profile reflects your intent and reaches the right audience.

Include Relevant Keywords

As with other social media networks and search engines, keywords heavily influence LinkedIn searches. Using the right keywords will help you appear in more searches, increasing your profile views. Research the keywords relevant your target audience and include in your headline, summary, job experience and skills.

Complete All Sections

Your profile should be 100% complete to ensure your profile appears in relevant searches. Don’t leave any blank sections or gaps. LinkedIn considers a profile complete if it contains the following:

  • Industry and location
  • Current job and two past roles
  • Education
  • Minimum of three skills
  • At least 50 connections

Upload a Professional Headshot

Profiles with headshots receive 21 times as many views as profiles without a photo. Ensure your headshot is high-quality and relevant to your industry. Do not use unprofessional or inappropriate images.

Customize Public Profile URL

Customizing your profile URL helps your audience find you on LinkedIn and looks more professional. Create an easy-to-understand URL and include in your email signature, resume, blog, etc. Generally, you should use your first and last name. However, if you have a common name, you can make a slight modification.

Keep Contact Information Updated

Whatever your purpose for using LinkedIn, you want people to be able to reach you. Your email, location, Twitter link and website/blog address should all be included.

Create a Powerful Headline

The default headline setting is to your current job title, which may not accurately reflect your professional brand. Instead, craft a headline communicating your value to your target audience.

Craft Your Profile Summary

The profile summary is your opportunity to reach your target audience. Write your summary with this audience in mind. Tell them what you can do for them, how you can help solve their problems. Be specific and use numbers to demonstrate results. Also, include your keywords in the summary.

Add Skills and Manage Endorsements

Listing at least five skills on your profile brings 17 times more profile views and up to 31 times more messages from recruiters and members. The more people endorse your skills, the higher the skill will display in your profile. You can list up to 50 endorsed skills but the skills should be relevant to the opportunity you want. Only first-degree connections can endorse skills. One of the easiest ways to obtain endorsements is to endorse your connections’ skills. They are more likely to reciprocate.

Request Recommendations

Recommendations validate your profile summary, work experience and skills. Your profile should include at least four recommendations from your target audience. Solicit recommendations from people who know you and your work well.

Stay Active

Interacting regularly enhances your visibility and keeps you involved and relevant. LinkedIn’s algorithm rewards you for sharing content and remaining active keeps you involved. Some activities to try:

  • Expand your network
  • Endorse connections
  • Update status daily
  • Regularly update profile
  • Like your connections’ updates
  • Publish articles

Join Groups

Find and join groups related to your industry. Your profile is more likely to be viewed by joining and being active in groups. Join as many groups as you wish, but actively participate in two or three of them to get your profile noticed by industry contacts.

Change Public Profile Settings

Set your profile to full public view to be included in web searches. A public profile can also be saved as a PDF file.

Upload Work Samples

Posting samples of previous work can validate your skills and demonstrate your abilities. Select samples related to your target audience.

Things to Avoid

Here are some practices you should avoid when optimizing your profile:

  • Headline violations – Your account name should include only your first and last name. Use your real name.
  • Keyword stuffing – Use multiple keywords instead of using the same keywords or phrases repeatedly. Don’t include keywords just to include. Ensure they are relevant.
  • Manipulating experience/education – These sections should be an accurate reflection on your professional experience and education.
  • Promotions and advertisements – Profiles are not to be used as advertisements for products or services.
  • Profile of an organization – Profiles are not for companies or organizations. Create a presence with a Company Page.

Summary

Having a rich, accurate, and complete profile is the best way to ensure the right people find your profile. However, a profile is the first step. Your LinkedIn activity will make the difference in achieving professional success.