When we meet people no matter how much we might think we are non-judgemental every one of us is ‘guilty’ of making first impressions, whether in business or socially. It’s often said it can take as little as 10 seconds to make an initial first impression .Anyone who has every interviewed a potential new team member greets the candidate and decides in 10 seconds whether or not the job is theirs. We spend the next 59 minutes 50 seconds confirming we have it right!
Because of this, most knowledgeable candidates or sales people know exactly how to behave in those first 10 seconds.
Your Linkedin profile
These same 10 seconds apply here too; in fact it’s potentially going be reviewed by a global LinkedIn audience of 250m+. Not so; your public profile as opposed to your LinkedIn profile (the one only registered users see) can be viewed by anyone with access to the Internet. However fulfilled you feel in your present position if someone came along with an offer of, say, 50% more income you’d consider it. We’re all in the market place for the next opportunity and / or to improve our lot. Whether self-employed or employed ensure you have an attractive and interesting profile.
This list is not exhaustive but I set out the more essential sections you should consider when publishing your profile. You want to guarantee, when someone looks at your profile in 10 seconds they don’t immediately click off to another site. Just like you want someone to engage with you whenever you meet a potential employer or client.
1. Profile picture: Make sure that there is one and that it looks professional. Head and shoulders shots generally work well unless you’re a ‘creative’ and want to express that side of your personality
2. Heading: This stays with you on everything you post and so make sure that you use it appropriately. Tell people what you do not what you are. You don’t need to say you’re a partner in x they will see that later in the experience section(s). Say something like ‘Advising SME’s reduce their tax bills’ or ‘ Helping clients with their employment law issues.
3. Status Update: After your profile is complete become more proactive by posting an business/ career related update. This appears right at the top of your profile so keep it relevant and timely for your audience! If you read a good article on the net then hyperlink it or if your company has exciting news share it. This ‘newsfeed’ appears on the home page of your level 1 connections. If you have a vacancy mention that too, very cheap recruitment costs!
4. Company Profile: link up with your company profile and, if it’s your company, get one written, submitted and optimised. This will allow you a second focal point on the site which is accessible externally and gives you the chance to display a different focus. Ensure the letters you use on your profile accurately reflect your company profile. E.g. don’t say you work for xxx partnership if your company profile shows xxx LLP. Once you say you work at xxx LLP LinkedIn will automatically pick this up and link your profile to your company’s.
5. Summary: this is all about you – you have 2000 characters but you don’t need to use them all! If you want people to read it through, you need to get people interested so it might be worth phrasing it as a story … that helps it flow and will more often retain people’s interest. Use this section to tell people who you are as a person not who you are as a professional or business person.
6. Specialities: a good place to get those keyword terms highlighted. You have a 500 character limit so keep them just right – this will help for LinkedIn’s search but also a good place to have the “sound bites” where people can tell at a glance what you do. I have the phrase ‘Business networking’ included in a number of phrases meaning if people search that phrase I appear 2nd on the listing out of 128000+.
7. Public Profile: When you register with LinkedIn they give you a public profile URL. It has numbers and letters at the end of the URL. Try to get rid of those by editing it to just your name. I say try because if your name is John Smith the chances are someone has got there before you. Mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/willkintish it used to have 12/ ab/ 123 after my name. With just your name you publicise your LinkedIn profile externally and you are likely to get higher placements in Google which is no bad thing.
8. Websites: you have 3 links so use them all. Make sure you customise the headings so you make it clear what people are going to click through to – don’t just leave it as “My Company” and “My Blog”, e.g. ‘LinkedIn free tips’ or ‘Mistakes people make when working the room’
9. Recommendations: they are a powerful way of demonstrating that all of the things you have on your profile really are true and they do have an impact – do make sure that they are real (of course!) and that it really is a recommendation from someone who knows you!
10. Applications: there are some excellent applications helping you to link your content and demonstrate your areas of interest, so make the most of them.
11. Endorsements: most people say these are a ‘waste of time’. All I say is take care if you’re thinking of starting a relationship with someone who has hundreds of connections but few or no endorsements.
If you’re profile is incomplete or full of errors I compare that to meeting someone inappropriately dressed, limp handshake and no eye contact. You wouldn’t do that would you when trying to make a great first impression?
The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both offline and online. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.linkedintraining.co.uk and www.kintish.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking.