The next couple of weeks may be a slow time for the job search or for developing new business, but that doesn’t mean you should take a holiday from your professional brand. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to do some winter clean-up on your LinkedIn profile and other accounts you use to market your skills online.
Done right, these updates will better position you for the job search or for sales success in the new year: Your profile will be refreshed, you’ll be taking advantage of LinkedIn’s new features, and you’ll get into the activity feed (and in front of the businesses and customers you want to impress).
With that in mind, we’ve packaged up 5 LinkedIn Tips for the Holidays.
[title size=”3″]Prioritize Your Recommendations[/title]
The new LinkedIn profile page makes recommendations more visible than ever before. The first two recommendations on each position are now prominently displayed beneath the job description on your profile. Each has a photo of the person who wrote the recommendation, along with a brief excerpt. Make sure the recommendations you show do you the most good: They’re from your most impressive connections, or they make the strongest case for your success.
To rearrange your recommendations, go to the Edit Profile page, scroll down to the Recommendations section and use the “up-down” arrows to drag and drop the recommendations into the order you want them to appear.
[title size=”2″]Start Using Endorsements[/title]
Endorsements are a new feature, but they’re becoming fairly popular, and there’s no doubt that they’ll play a significant role in search down the road. LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills to your profile, and then asks your connections to endorse the ones you’re good at. Don’t use that many. The idea here is to highlight your best qualities and the skills that will help you move ahead, rather than listing everything you’ve ever done.
Go to Edit Profile and click the pencil icon next to Skills & Expertise. Add the skills that you want to highlight — and be sure to spell and capitalize them the right way. Do some research. LinkedIn has a skills tool that tells you whether particular skills are on the rise or decline. When you enter your skills in the search box there, you can see how popular they are, who else has them, and related keywords you might consider. Focus in the the 12 or 15 top skills you want to market, and then ask your connections to endorse you.
[title size=”3″]Fix Your Branding[/title]
Now is a perfect time to have a good look at your headline and summary to see if they’re doing their job. The headline is your overall brand. It’s who you are and what you do. Think bigger than your job title, and use words that impart knowledge, credibility and experience. Don’t get stuck with “Sales Director” or “Sales & Marketing Professional” when you can be “Sales Leader & E-Commerce Enthusiast” or “Sales Executive with Bricks & Clicks Success.”
The summary, meanwhile, is your overall positioning statement. Use it to make the case for why you’re good — and leave them wanting to know more. Be positive, enthusiastic, and brief. Use short first-person sentences and make your case like you would in a cover letter: This is who I am and what I do. Don’t get bogged down in the details of your last job, but let them know what makes you a success.
[title size=”3″]Add a Photo[/title]
This is one of the easiest — and most important — things you can do to gain visibility. LinkedIn says that profiles with photos are seen seven times more often the profiles without pictures. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this, since we all have or have access to someone who has a quality smartphone or digital camera. Go somewhere with good lighting, stand in front of a light wall or clean background, and wear what you wear to work. Don’t get over-dressed, or under-dressed. You want to “look the part” so that employers get the sense that you’ll fit in.
[title size=”3″]Expose Yourself[/title]
LinkedIn is a visibility business. We create accounts because we want people to see us. We make connections, post status updates and participate in groups because we want people to know we’re here. But a surprising number of us have chosen to be “anonymous” or “generic” when we look at other people’s profiles. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but it works against us in a couple of ways. First, if we don’t let anyone see our name when we look at their profile, then we won’t see anyone else’s name when they look at ours.
Whether you’re trying to grow your business or find a job, you want to know when people are paying attention to you. And sometimes, you want people to know when you’re paying attention to them — before an interview, for example, or after you’ve sent a proposal. Most people who know about the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature on LinkedIn check it out often. If you’re not using it, you should. And if you’re “generic” or anonymous, change it now.
Go to settings, look for “privacy controls,” and click the link that says “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.” Go for full exposure here — your name and headline (and photo, of course).
How are you sprucing up your profile or business page this season?