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The Alternative Board Blog

How to optimize a personal LinkedIn profile for business

Nov. 15, 2012 | Posted by The Alternative Board
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A LinkedIn profile novice

A few years ago, I made the transition from traditional marketing professional to internet marketing professional. The first day after my promotion, I cockily strolled into my boss’s office, ready for some serious discussion about Pinterest strategy, or what awesome profile picture we wanted to upload to our Facebook account. My boss wanted to talk about LinkedIn.

To put it nicely, 23-year-old me did not see the utility of creating a better LinkedIn profile for our company. I didn't even have my own LinkedIn account. Apparently, my new job title made this unacceptable. At the request of my boss, I begrudgingly went back to my office, and created a (inadequate) LinkedIn account.

Seeing the need for LinkedIn

Flash forward 16 months: 25 year old me is doing web marketing for a business consulting franchise. In the five months since I've started my new job, I've put a ridiculous amount of effort into making my LinkedIn profile perfect, and I've added around 200 contacts to my network. These improvements haven’t been sufficient. The truth is, if you get a late start on LinkedIn, the improvements you make will never be enough. Now, when I meet friends and co-workers who don’t treat LinkedIn like it’s the most important thing in the world, I immediately become hysterical with rage. Without speculating, it can be said with certainty that LinkedIn is the most important tool for job searching, the most important social network for business to business marketing, and within the next decade, the LinkedIn profile will completely replace the resume.

To use financial parlance, LinkedIn is too big to fail. The social network is big enough that it can do whatever it wants, and it's obvious that LinkedIn wants to change. Furthermore, over the last few months, LinkedIn has made some changes that have really surprised me. If these recent developments are any indication of what to expect in the future, LinkedIn wants to become Facebook. Personally, I don’t like the changes. But we’ve already established that when it comes to LinkedIn, it doesn’t matter what I like. It doesn’t matter what you like either. All that matters is that you’re playing ball.

Strategies for the new LinkedIn

So let’s take a look at the three biggest changes that were made to LinkedIn, and I’ll tell you how these changes can be used to your advantage. Last week, I came into the office and was astounded when my boss, who is normally very low key and hands off, excitedly berated me with demands for a “new” LinkedIn profile. When I pressed her for more information, she showed me the profile of a colleague who had a profile with a layout that is more visually appealing than the standard LinkedIn profile.

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1. Changing profiles

I looked into changing profiles, and as you’d imagine, LinkedIn is doing the change as a beta rollout - probably so that the huge number of users that want the new profile doesn’t crash LinkedIn. So while it is to your advantage to sign up for a new LinkedIn profile, the only way that you can get one of the new profiles is by getting on this waiting list. 

2. Endorsements and recommendations

The next thing I’m sure you’ve noticed on LinkedIn is the new endorsement feature. The endorsement feature allows people to endorse you for the skills that you've listed in your skills box. Similar to the like feature on Facebook, when you are endorsed by someone, their picture appears next to the skill on your skills box; the total number of endorsements that you receive for each skill appears in blue on the left-hand side of your skills box. LinkedIn has stated that endorsements will soon be part the sites search vetting process, so it is important that you get endorsements on LinkedIn. Like anything else on the network, the best way to get endorsements is to endorse others, and request endorsements in return. Take the endorsement feature seriously; only endorse someone if you know that they are skilled in whatever you’re endorsing, only accept endorsements from people who know that you have the skills that they are recommending you for. I've received a lot of endorsements from people who I don't know, or barely know. Personally, I feel like this detracts from the overall quality of my LinkedIn profile. If you share my views, you can hide these endorsements by viewing your profile, clicking on the horizontal arrow to the right of the endorsed skills, and selecting hide endorsements. With time, LinkedIn may realize that endorsements and recommendations are redundant, and eliminate one of the two. For now, recognize that endorsements and recommendations both exist, and that recommendations carry more weight than endorsements. If you want to thank a colleague, or recommend a great service, the best thing you can do is offer a both a recommendation, and an endorsement.

3. Company pages

The last change I want to address in this blog is the new company pages. If you have a company page, you’ve probably noticed that some changes have been made to your profile. The more visually oriented layout is nothing to be afraid of, especially since LinkedIn made most of the needed changes when your company page was updated to the new profile. When your profile changes, the only imperative task that you’ll have is to add a cover photo. Make sure this cover photo is sized correctly, a good representation of your business, and professional. If you have additional questions about your new company page, check out the What’s New link. This link is located to the right of your status bar. 

Take-Aways

These changes are a lot to think about, but as I’ve stated before, LinkedIn is too big, and too important of a business tool to rebel against. It’s not important whether you liked the changes made by the social networks, it is important that you adapt to the changes. Interactivity is now an important feature on LinkedIn. To me, this is the ultimate proof that social media is not a fad. So log into LinkedIn more often, use your profile to post relevant business news, and interact with the profiles of your connections and the businesses that you follow. Despite the popularity of LinkedIn, it’s still very easy to keep a high profile on the social network. As more people grasp the reasoning behind the LinkedIn changes, space on the update page will become more and coveted. Take advantage of the new LinkedIn while you still can. 

The Alternative Board works with Business Owners who understand the value of social media. Our PULSE Survey on Business Leadership outlines the criteria they feel are important. 

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Written by The Alternative Board

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