LinkedIn offers tools that can grow your brand. Building credibility with your customers, prospects, and employees is not difficult. Begin by following my recommendations to tune your LinkedIn profile for maximum results. Then go on to leverage a company page to amplify your professional brand.
These nine steps will expand your influence on LinkedIn:
- Use LinkedIn to define your professional brand
- Add your work and education history
- Tell others about your skills
- Include a professional photo
- Upload a background image
- Write a compelling headline
- Complete your About section
- Customize your public web address
- Build your connections
Start Using LinkedIn to Define Your Professional Brand
Are you already on LinkedIn? Move along to the next point. If not, sign up to start using LinkedIn now. It is easy.
- Navigate to the LinkedIn sign up page.
- Enter your email address and a password to authenticate you.
- Submit the form by clicking Agree & Join.
- Follow the prompts to complete the process.
LinkedIn will prompt you to import contacts from your computer as part of signing up. It feels like an invasion of privacy. Allowing LinkedIn to access your contacts will help you make better use of the platform. If you feel uncomfortable with that step, please skip it. You can import your contacts later if you wish.
With that finished, continue reading to define your professional brand on LinkedIn.
Add Your Work and Education History
Your work and education history is a vital part of your professional qualifications. Take the time to tell your complete story. Explain how each experience helped you develop skills related to your career.
- Add your entire history to your profile. A complete picture of your career will help others understand and connect with you. LinkedIn does not restrict its length.
- Each part of your history should link to a relevant page. For example, you should reference the company page created by your employer. That link will allow others to find you through that page.
- Use your resume as a template for your history. Your resume already contains much of your work and education history, so this will save some time. If you ever join the job search, recruiters will compare your resume and LinkedIn profile. Tell a consistent story.
- Write complete sentences using active verbs to describe what you did in each role.
- Include relevant keywords to allow others to find you based on your history.
For more details on sharing your work history, read the article, 12 Tips to Improve Your Work Experience Section on LinkedIn.
Tell Others about Your Skills
Your skills are valuable keywords that make your profile discoverable. Customers for your business may want to verify your skills, especially if you own a consulting company. If you are an employee, recruiters will use your list of skills to search for potential hires. Your colleagues also want to network with others that have similar skills.
When your profile boasts a complete list of your skills, you open the door to those connections. Then, when others endorse your skills, they let the world know you are a qualified professional.
To add the Skills section to your profile,
- Click the Add profile section link below the profile banner.
- Select Skills from the dropdown.
- Input the name of a skill, then select it from the dropdown that appears.
- Continue adding your skills until your list is complete.
When you complete this step, browse a few profiles of your colleagues. Identify their top skills. To endorse them,
- Click the Plus icon beside a skill they have mastered.
- Follow the prompts to enter details about your working relationship.
- When you complete the endorsement, a Check Mark icon will be visible next to the endorsed skill.
Reciprocity is a powerful thing. After your endorsements, send a personal message asking them to endorse you in return.
If you want to research how the marketplace describes your skills, read The Expert Trick to Hone Your Skills Section on LinkedIn.
Include a Professional Photo
Images are powerful. Use them on LinkedIn. Your photo should be professional, friendly, and authentically you. Put your best foot forward.
Professional photographers are worth the investment. That said, if you need to save money, there are alternatives. Loved ones can often capture candid-but-professional images.
Get a second opinion from someone you trust before posting an image on LinkedIn.
For more detailed tips, read A Professional Photographer’s Guide to Getting the Right LinkedIn Profile Photo.
Upload a Background Image
A background image appears behind your photo on LinkedIn. A well-chosen background graphic or photo shows off your personality, interests, or location. You may want to show off your favorite bike trails in the woods, your design portfolio, or even outdoor hunting photos.
Whatever amplifies your professional identity will help others get to know you.
To add your background image from your profile page,
- Click the Camera icon on the top right corner of your profile.
- Click Upload photo to choose an image from your computer and then click Open.
- Click Apply to add your background image.
For another point of view on background images, read 3 Tips for the Optimal LinkedIn Background Image.
Write a Compelling Headline
Your headline is only 120 characters long. Use them well. Replace the default headline LinkedIn generates from your work history. Swap that out with something that makes you stand out. Make it about what you can do for others.
My LinkedIn headline is a work in progress. Today it is short and to the point: Every business should stand out from the crowd. I can help.
Perhaps it should include more context and keywords describing how I can help. Maybe I should talk about web design, branding, and marketing—still, it is a good start. If you write something similar with a few more specifics, you will not go wrong.
There is much more to consider when writing a headline. Read How To Write The Perfect Headline For Your LinkedIn Profile for more advice.
Complete Your About Section
The About section offers you an opportunity to sell yourself in 2,000 words. Use this section to tell your story. List your skills and valuable experiences. Use clear, short sentences with liberal paragraph breaks.
Experts recommend you think of this section as a biography. You may wish to share soft skills you would not include on your resume.
To learn more help, read How to Write a Dazzling LinkedIn About Section.
Customize Your Public Web Address
Every LinkedIn member can customize the web address for their profile page. Your custom web address will be readable and easy to share in print and on the web. Doing this says you are someone who pays attention to the details of professional life.
- Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
- Click View profile.
- At the top right of the page, click Edit public profile & URL.
- Click the edit icon next to your public profile URL on the right.
- Customize your URL and click Save.
For more on custom web addresses, read How To Create Your Custom LinkedIn Profile URL And How To Use It.
Grow Your Connections
Use LinkedIn search to find colleagues. Your past work and education experience are rich sources of relationships. Invite them to connect. LinkedIn recommends including a personal note to provide context for any connection request. A thoughtful comment creates goodwill and makes others more likely to respond.
Many influential people on LinkedIn are open to connection requests. They often welcome connections, even if you are not a personal friend. I have connected with authors, journalists, and consultants I respect. I sent them a note of thanks or asked for help. In return, they were happy to connect.
This openness to my requests has surprised me. Perhaps a thoughtful note goes a long way in relationship building. But it is likely more about them than me. I think their openness may be why the business world rewarded them with influence.
Before we wrap up, here are some more tips on building connections:
- Share high-quality content related to your skills. Set a schedule and stick to it.
- Avoid off-topic posts. LinkedIn is not Facebook.
- Mention colleagues to publicly congratulate them and the company.
- Share professional wins like completed projects or promotions.
- Find and contribute to groups related to your skills and interests.
For more tips on building your LinkedIn connections, read 5 Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Influential Connections.
Congratulations on Your Completed Profile
This process was not complicated, but I am sure it felt like work. Thank you for your diligence. Your career will be more visible to others because of it.
Every day this month, find several valuable insights shared by your colleagues. Encourage them with comments and shares. We are no longer face-to-face, but we can still have a profound positive impact on each other.
As a business owner, make it a high priority to use LinkedIn effectively to grow your professional brand. As you clarify who you are and who you serve, your business will flourish.