The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect LinkedIn Profile

The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect LinkedIn Profile

The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect LinkedIn Profile

Last Updated: Mar. 13, 2015

Because LinkedIn began as a platform for connecting employers with employees, essentially an online resume service, our LinkedIn profiles are far more complicated and advanced than the other social networks. This is no 140 character Bio like on Twitter. You've got sections for a Summary and Experience, Education and a custom cover photo, and more.

And I have to be honest here, setting up and optimizing a LinkedIn profile takes time. This is not going to be a "Clean Up Your LinkedIn Profile In 5 Minutes" kind of post. So while it will only take a few minutes for you and I to run through these suggestions, be prepared to spend a considerably greater amount of time actually implementing some of them. Fortunately, once done, you can relax, have a glass of wine, and just pop back into your profile every few weeks or months to make a couple updates.

Now would be a good time to bookmark this article (CTRL-D / Command-D).
You can also download the guide for later reading.

Before we jump into these recommendations, let me make one more point perfectly clear. These are not necessarily recommendations for the perfect LinkedIn profile if you're looking for a job. I am writing this from my own perspective, as someone who is using their LinkedIn profile to connect with influencers, partners or prospects. I already have a business and I am counting on LinkedIn to help me grow that business and reach more of their nearly 200 million active monthly users.

All of the recommendations below are just that, recommendations. Take 'em or leave 'em however you'd like. Each can be implemented by going to LinkedIn, logging in, moving your mouse over to Profile in the top menu and then clicking on the Edit Profile link. This will put your profile in edit mode, and you'll be able to change anything you need to. You may also want to take advantage of LinkedIn's suggestions and recommendations for completing your profile. LinkedIn will ask you a series of probing questions designed to get your profile even more complete, starting with a couple of recommendations displayed below your profile image.

Optimize your LinkedIn profile by following LinkedIn's recommendations.

To edit, simply mouse over elements of your profile and click on the pencil icon that appears to the right of each section to edit it. Edits will be saved as soon as you click out of each profile field. Your profile essentially is always in edit mode.

Edit your LinkedIn profile by mousing over elements and clicking on the pencil icon.

Note that the LinkedIn for iOS app supports making edits to your profile, while the LinkedIn for iPad app does not. If you want to make changes to your LinkedIn profile while using your iPad, you'll need to log into LinkedIn using either Safari or Chrome on your iPad. You can then edit the various fields, though I would still recommend doing so from desktop. It's faster, easier, and you can't upload images, like a new LinkedIn cover photo (background image), from your iPad. Throughout the rest of this guide, I will assume you're editing your profile via desktop.

We will cover:

  1. Why Use LinkedIn At All?
  2. Research Keywords for LinkedIn
  3. Use a Current, Professional Profile Image
  4. Consider Premium, and Then Add a Cover Photo
  5. What's Your Name, and What Do You Do?
  6. Offer Complete Contact Information
  7. Grab a Custom URL
  8. Make Sure Your Profile Is Visible
  9. Consider a Profile Badge
  10. Support Additional Languages
  11. Update Your Connections
  12. Update Your Background
  13. Add Media / Links
  14. Review Skills & Endorsements
  15. Move Sections Around
  16. Add / Update Projects
  17. Add / Update Publications
  18. Ask for Recommendations and Give Recommendations
  19. Regularly Share Relevant and Interesting Status Updates
  20. Regularly Publish Posts
  21. Review Group Memberships
  22. Check Your Profile on Mobile and Embeds
  23. Daily LinkedIn Activity
  24. BONUS: Expert Tips on LinkedIn

Let's get started.

1. Why Use LinkedIn At All?

You may be wondering, if you're not looking for a new job (or just keeping your options open), why bother trying to craft the best possible LinkedIn profile? What good will an optimized LinkedIn profile do for you or your business?

The answer, of course, is plenty. Here's why.

First, bear in mind that a lot of people use LinkedIn. LinkedIn has over 300 million users and most of them login monthly. That's a lot of potential contacts. There are 107 million users in the U.S. alone, yet over 200 countries are represented.

LinkedIn has over 300 million users and most of them login monthly. That's a lot of potential contacts.

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What's perhaps more interesting is that the average LinkedIn user spends approximately 17 minutes per day on the platform. That means users go there with the intention and expectation that they'll be spending some time, unlike Google+, for instance, which sees an average time spent of just 7 minutes per day.

LinkedIn's membership includes a high percentage of CEOs and Millionaires, along with millions of people who have neither Twitter nor Facebook profiles, making it the only platform you can potentially reach them.

Second, LinkedIn has worked hard through the years to establish and maintain a platform reputation as "the network for professionals." People tend not to share personal, off-topic information or imagery to the platform, and are therefore more receptive to professional, business-related topics and discussions. This means that initiating professional connections and conversations on LinkedIn is not only normal, it's encouraged.

LinkedIn's messaging system, InMail, is designed to help you create connections with interested individuals, and recently went through a revision that resulted in new policies going into effect January 1. In essence, now, if you have one of the LinkedIn Premium plans that give you an allotment of InMail messages, you can use them to email any other member of LinkedIn, regardless of your connection to them. And if they respond to your message, you get credit back for that InMail. Therefore, you have incentive to craft personalized and relevant messages, rather than bulk spam. Since, according to LinkedIn, 48% of B2B decision makers won't respond to sales professionals who don’t personalize their messages.

48% of B2B decision makers won't respond to sales professionals who don’t personalize their messages.

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And Investis IQ reports that "Since 2010, the number of B2B and B2C marketers generating sales via LinkedIn has grown consistently. U.S.-based agencies rate LinkedIn as the most important social media platform for new business."

So, given the overall membership profile of LinkedIn, and the incredible opportunities to be seen and to prospect, I think you'll agree it's time to start improving that LinkedIn Profile of yours.

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2. Research Keywords for LinkedIn

Before editing your profile, it will help you if you have a list of targeted keyword phrases in mind for which you would want to come up in search. These are the actual words and phrases that you think prospects and potential connections might actually type into a search. If you're a plumber, make sure you use the word "plumber" in your profile, along with variations you think might work like "plumbing." We will be reviewing specific instances where you can and should use these targeted phrases, so write them down. I suggest coming up with 10 - 12 and then prioritizing them so that you know what your most important keyword phrase it.

Before finalizing your list and implementing them, you may want to do a few LinkedIn searches yourself to see who comes up and if it would be advantageous for you to be seen ranked above those individuals.

Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for search by including your targeted keywords.

Jot these down in Evernote or someplace handy, and refer back to them throughout the following recommendations, each time you have an opportunity to talk about you and your business. While you want to write everything with your profile viewers and prospects in mind, it is a good idea to make an effort to work in keywords when possible.

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3. Use a Current, Professional Profile Image

First, let's get this out in open right now. If your profile picture is so old you no longer resemble that person, and your own children wouldn't know that was you, change it. We're all getting older and most of us would rather be defined by our younger, better-looking selves, but your professional image needs to reflect who you are today. I've written at length about what makes for a good, personal brand image. You should have an excellent profile pic on LinkedIn and one that's used on all of your other personal profiles as well — at least the ones you're using to promote your business.

That means this image needs to be up to date and professional. This image will be showing up anywhere there's a piece of information associated with you on LinkedIn, which means status updates, published posts, search results, group discussions, and of course your profile. People will begin to identify you by your image, and your image will help some people decide whether to further a conversation with you, so make it count.

And of course, the implied fact is here is that you must have a profile photo. According to LinkedIn, profiles that include a profile image receive 14x more views.

According to LinkedIn, profiles that include a profile image receive 14x more views.

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One option is to use a fun, yet professional, selfie, and LinkedIn has offered this great SlideShare presentation to create the perfect #WorkSelfie.

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4. Add a Cover Photo

7/17 UPDATE: LinkedIn has opened cover photos to everyone.

Are you a LinkedIn Premium member? If not, you may want to consider it. As a premium member, you'll be able to see more information about other members, who's looking at your own profile, and you will be able to take advantage of the new LinkedIn Cover Photo.

I had not been a huge proponent of LinkedIn Premium for business owners like myself until these recent changes, and now it's a bargain. For a few bucks a month, I'll get enhanced listings in search results? I already know from Google Authorship what a benefit that can be. Sign me up! And I love the branding and customization that a cover photo brings me.

So strongly consider upgrading, and if you do (or have already), create a custom cover photo for yourself (dimensions and requirements here). Don't just upload an image you like — make sure that image communicates something about you and your business to prospects, and add text to help contextualize the image, or at least add additional information.

Here's mine:

LinkedIn Cover Photo from the perspective of a connection.

Sorry it's a bit squished, since the live graphic is quite wide. This is how one of your connections will view your cover photo. You can use the "View Profile As" button to see how your profile looks (but you'll need to ignore an overlay bar that appears below the black menu bar). Or, if you have someone else nearby who can look at your LinkedIn profile logged in as themselves, that works better.

Note the following challenging aspects of creating a LinkedIn Cover Photo:

  1. The black "Home" menu renders on top of your cover photo, cutting off the top slice of your graphic (approximately 25 pixels).
  2. Your profile image and current details render above the center of your graphic (975 x 175).
  3. The bottom slice of your graphic is cut off (approximately 25 pixels).
  4. A next profile widget appears in the lower right quadrant, suggesting other similar profiles viewed or the next profile in your search (150 x 150).
  5. Left and Right portions may be hidden depending on the width/resolution of the viewer's browser.

The result is a cover photo graphic that will have the majority of the graphic hidden from view. Plus, when you are viewing it within your own profile, the overlays are displayed differently suggesting that your cover photo graphic needs to be edited. Here's what mine looks like to me:

LinkedIn Cover Photo from the perspective of yourself.

As you can see, my profile and contact area is larger and now covers the title of my second book, while the next connection widget is missing entirely. So, it's important when crafting your LinkedIn Cover Photo that you ignore how it looks to you and concentrate on how it looks to your connections and potential connections.

While I had been very happy with how my cover photo looked on other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), I was not happy at all with the result on LinkedIn. Even though I'd created it specifically for LinkedIn, due to the size of the graphic, the image I'd used looked pixelated, was cut off, and the text I'd wanted displayed was mostly hidden. So I created an entirely new set of cover photos in Canva, with the goal in mind of having a LinkedIn cover photo that did a better job of communicating something about me.

Here's what the new graphic looks like on it's own:

Mike Allton's LinkedIn Cover Photo Graphic

I decided that I wanted to test using my cover photos to promote my books, and went with the same color scheme, design, and font choices as my Hootsuite book cover. While  I love Canva (www.canva.com) since it allows non-graphic designers like myself to create great graphics, there are some limitations. Namely, you cannot transfer or copy elements from one design to another. So while it was easier to create each of the social network cover photos once I'd decided on and finalized the first one, it was still a process of starting from a new graphic each time. Fortunately, Canva does offer templates for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ that not only set your graphic to the right size, but also insert profile elements, like your profile image, as markers so you'll know where they're going to go in relation to the rest of your graphic (sorry, no template for LinkedIn yet).

To use Canva yourself, go to canva.com and instead of choosing a template, click on Use custom dimensions and enter 1400 x 425 for a LinkedIn cover photo, like this:

Create a professional LinkedIn cover photo using Canva.

This will simply provide you with a blank canvas on which to place whatever visual elements you wish. A few recommendations:

  • Remember that the top 25 pixels will be cut off, as well as the bottom 175 within the center, leaving you about 175 - 200 pixels of space to work with. With the left and right sides fluctuating due to the screen, and potentially covered with a widget, concentrate any text within this space.
  • Consider using graphics elements instead of a picture. With Canva, you can upload any images you like, and in fact that was the route I took with all my cover photos last year - using a picture of radio telescopes to convey the idea of communication. But nearly every image you might choose to use is going to be severely limited in this instance. Instead, consider the use of colors, textures and shapes, or a picture which doesn't have specific items in it that will be cut off.
  • Adjust the zoom within Canva to work or view your work accordingly. When you start, your graphic will be zoomed out so that you can view the entire thing, but with such large dimensions, you'll want to zoom in to have an easier time working with individual elements, so keep that in mind.
  • Like any professional graphic, make sure that your LinkedIn cover photo, and all of your cover photos, use consistent colors, fonts and elements for great branding and a wonderful overall look. The fonts also do not have to be too large. The main text (book titles) on my LinkedIn cover photo graphic are just 24 pt.

If you can have a set of cover photos professionally created for you, I highly recommend it. A graphic designer will find it much easier to work with the peculiarities of LinkedIn's cover photo implementation, as well as offer tremendous visual and branding recommendations. But, if that's just not in the budget, Canva offers a great alternative. (In case you're curious, I do all of my personal profile cover photos, but my business cover photos for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even LinkedIn were all professionally designed.)

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5. What's Your Name, and What Do You Do?

Give careful thought to your Name and Title. Along with your profile image, these are the pieces of information most commonly associated with your account throughout LinkedIn, so they're extremely important.

Are you using the same exact version of your name as on other web properties? Make sure you're consistent and professional, and have your full name with proper capitalization. Do not use your business name or anything else here. Here's a full checklist to run through:

  • Use your full name, both first and last, completely spelled out. i.e. Mike Allton vs. Mike A.
  • Do not add nicknames or locations or other keywords to your name. Mike "St. Louis" Allton is not a good idea!
  • Always capitalize the first letter of each of your names. All caps or all lower case looks unprofessional.
  • Do not use any special characters or symbols.
  • Use the exact same version of your name as you use elsewhere, for consistency. Don't use "Michael" if you're using "Mike" everywhere else.
  • Include your maiden name, if appropriate, in parentheses.
  • Triple check spelling and that you've put the correct name in the correct field: first name first, last name second.
  • Consider adding any former names and determining their visibility.

Not only is your name the first thing any viewer of your profile sees, it's the first thing people read in the news feed, suggested connections, and most importantly, in search. If someone's searching for you, or for someone with your skills, make sure they can find you easily, recognize you, and not be immediately unimpressed by your profile. While you won't score points by having your name perfect on your LinkedIn Profile, you can definitely lose points by presenting yourself as anything less than professional.

For your title, you should attempt to strike a balance between coming up with something creative, while at the same time using keywords from your industry for which you'd like to be associated. "Owner" or "CEO" may be appropriate, but are hardly helpful to getting you seen by prospects. Mine, for instance, reads, "Content Marketing Consultant, Author" as that communicates what I do and who I am.

This is referred to within LinkedIn as your Professional Headline and has a limit of 120 characters.

LinkedIn Header for Mike Allton

While you're editing the information in your header, be sure to check your location. If you're providing services to a specific geographic area, this is a critical component. When entering my own zip code, LinkedIn gives me the option choosing my local city or the greater metro area, which worked better for me.

And finally, give careful consideration to your Industry. This will appear to the right of your location at the top of your profile, and give viewers a quick indication of what kind of business you have. LinkedIn actually suggests that adding your industry will bring your profile 15x more views!

LinkedIn actually suggests that adding your industry will bring your profile 15x more views!

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6. Offer Complete Contact Information

Below your header is a tab for Contact. This contains all of the contact information that you've chosen to share with your connections. Make sure this is complete! At a minimum, you should have your email address, phone number, website and Twitter accounts.

If you want to make yourself available for instant message, like through Skype, you can include that as well.

Under Websites, you can include up to three. You might link to your Home page, to your Blog, and to your RSS Feed. Or perhaps you have a second website you might want prospects to go to, or even your Google+ profile. Do take advantage of all three slots. And make sure that you edit the label for each website name to be more interesting and descriptive, rather than just "Website."

Update & Complete Your LinkedIn Contact Information

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7. Grab a Custom URL

Have you claimed a vanity URL for your LinkedIn profile yet? A vanity URL is easier to remember and use, and of course looks more branded and professional. Mine, for instance, is http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeallton/.

Customize your URL by going to http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?editwp=# and clicking Customize your public profile URL down on the right-hand side. Definitely use your name or as close to it as you can get based on what LinkedIn will allow you to choose and what others may have already taken. Don't use nicknames, handles or your business name, or anything that could change in a year.

Create a custom URL for your LinkedIn Profile.

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8. Make Sure Your Profile Is Visible

If you're hoping to get business from your LinkedIn profile, than you want to make sure that anyone can view it, whether they're logged in or not.

In the same drop down menu next to the Edit Profile button, click on Manage public profile settings. The left side will be what anyone can view from your profile, and along the right you'll see a set of checkboxes for each of your sections. Generally, you'd want to have them all visible, but do take a moment to review them and make sure you're not invisible to the public.

Also, let's take a moment to review what other LinkedIn members can see as well. Click on your profile image in the upper right corner of the screen to access your account menu, and click on Privacy & Settings. Here you can:

  • Make sure EVERYONE can view your activity feed.
  • Turn on or off your activity broadcasts
  • Select what others can see when you view their profile (image, name and headline recommended)
  • Enable Open Profile if you're a Premium member

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9. Consider a Profile Badge

While technically not an optimization of your profile itself, it's certainly a good idea to make sure that other people know they can find you on LinkedIn. I use a rich signature in my email that includes linked icons for my top social networks, and have a similar set of icons in my Bio below this and every other blog I write. Depending on your own site and situation, you might take advantage of one of the LinkedIn Badges available here: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/profile-badges

Here's what mine looks like:

View Mike Allton's profile on LinkedIn

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10. Support Additional Languages

Do you cater to other countries and languages? If so, you can offer your profile visitors an alternate version in their language. Visitors to your profile will see available languages as a drop-down to the right of your top details box.

Choose which available language to display a LinkedIn Profile in.

To the right of the View Profile As button, click on the down arrow to reveal an additional options menu and click on Create profile in another language.

Create multiple versions of your LinkedIn profile for different languages.

You choose from several dozen languages, with more being added regularly.

Create your LinkedIn profile in another language.

When you add additional languages, all you've done is create a template for your profile with much of the same information duplicated. What you don't have is an automatic translation. Once you've added one or more language templates, you'll need to create or obtain accurate translations of your Summary and other fields, and enter them accordingly.

To add translated text to one of your alternate language profiles, simply select that profile from the drop-down selector and then edit as normal. Only that version of your profile will be changed. New sections or aspects of major sections, like Experience or Projects, have to be added to the primary profile first. They will then be automatically copied to all secondary profiles.

PRO TIP: If you have an international audience, consider each language / demographic carefully. If your scope of services or products is different for, say, Italy, you can use your Italian profile to reflect those differences and say something completely different in your Summary.

While I have not yet had time to secure accurate translations, I intend to offer complete Spanish, French and Italian versions of my profile. What languages might make sense for you?

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11. Update Your Connections

If you've never used the LinkedIn Networking tools, or perhaps it's been a while, now's a good time. In fact, I recommend doing a quick check every month so that you can connect with people you've emailed recently. Basically, LinkedIn will scan your email accounts (with your permission) and offer to send a connection invitation to any existing members LinkedIn finds in your address book.

Head up to Connections and click on Add Connections. Select an email service that you're currently using, like Gmail, and follow the online instructions to authorize your account and allow LinkedIn to identify potential connections.

Once LinkedIn has scanned your account, you will be presented with a list of individuals whom you've emailed and have LinkedIn accounts associated with that same email address. Since you already have their email, LinkedIn won't ask you to confirm or supply anything — you can simply select the people who you know and want to connect with and LinkedIn will issue the invitation. I recently connected my Gmail account and was presented with over 400 potential new contacts.

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12. Update Your Background

The Background section includes your Summary and any media you choose to associate with it. Your Summary can include up to 2000 characters and I strongly recommend using every single available space. According to LinkedIn, summaries that have more than 40 words makes you more likely to turn up in appropriate searches, which makes complete sense. The more you're talking about your business and industry, the more likely you are to use important keywords.

The first and most common mistake here is to write a brief biography of yourself or your work history. Not only is that boring, it's also ineffective when you're trying to land business for yourself. You aren't trying to get hired, so why write for a job interview?

Instead, treat the Summary field like it's the Home Page of your website. Talk to your prospects and really try to reach out and engage them. Explain a little bit about who you are, but focus more on what you do for people. And this should not read like a list of services. People don't buy services. They buy solutions or experiences. If you talk about how you're going to help me, I'm far more likely to relate and to want to learn more.

That said, at the bottom of my Background, I do include a list of specific services or topics. This certainly helps your profile's optimization, but it also mentions some specific services, like Pay Per Click or Social Advertising, that you may not be able to work into the rest of your prose.

If you're a Premium member, when you go to edit your Background, LinkedIn will offer suggestions of additional keywords to add, and highlight strong business words that you're already doing well to integrate.

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13. Add Media / Links

One of the outstanding features of your LinkedIn profile is the option to add Media to some sections. Media can include images, links or video, and can serve to help educate and engage profile visitors.

Look for this icon in the upper right of sections: Add Rich Media to LinkedIn Sections

Under your Summary, you can add up to 10 Media entries, which will be displayed in a layered brick fashion. I strongly recommend selecting your best, most appropriate blog posts and videos and link them here. Only the first five will be displayed initially, so prioritize your media links and make your first two the most important two.

Add Rich Media to your LinkedIn sections.

In addition to the Summary section, you can also add Media to individual positions you've held within Experience, and individual institutions you've attended within Education. Again, since you're using your LinkedIn profile to get leads and sales for your business, it's likely that your past jobs and the schools you attended are meaningless. However, you have presumably put your current business as your current job within Experience, so take advantage of this feature and add a couple more links there, perhaps to specific services or key landing pages. I chose to link to The Social Media Hat's About Page, as well as our key services page.

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14. Review Skills & Endorsements

The Skills & Endorsements section is one of the most misunderstood and berated features of LinkedIn, so it's not surprising that most people aren't taking advantage of all this section has to offer. Yet according to LinkedIn, members who include skills and utilize this section receive 13x more profile views.

According to LinkedIn, those who use the Skills & Endorsements section get 13x more profile views.

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And most of the criticism stems from the fact that members can endorse other members for anything, so it's possible for other people to endorse you for skills you don't have, or wouldn't want to display on your profile. Yet you retain complete control over what skills are displayed, and even which skills you can receive endorsements on.

Click on Edit next to the Skills & Endorsements section to edit your skills.

First, if you really don't want to use this feature, you can turn it off here.

Next, you can choose whether or not your connections should be encouraged to endorse you (YES!) and whether or not you want to be encouraged to endorse them (ALSO YES!).

Next you'll see a list of the skills you've already added, and a field to add more. You can list up to 50 skills, so fill it up! Make sure that you've decided for yourself what 50 skills you want to be endorsed for, as this will ensure you don't get lots of endorsements for random skills. Refer back to the LinkedIn Keywords list we created earlier.

Now it's time to prioritize those skills. The skills that are most relevant to your business and the kind of work you want to get should be listed first, so drag your skills around until they're in the order you want. Once saved, the top ten will be listed along with thumbnails of your endorsers, followed by a list of the next 15 skills, and a button to see the final 25. So note that only your top 25 skills are seen on your profile.

Since the first ten skills are the ones that viewers of your profile can easily endorse, I often cycle different skills into that top ten listing to give them a bump in endorsements. For instance, I recently added "Blog Coach" as a skill in addition to the "Blogging" and "Content Marketing" skills I was already displaying. Since it's a new skill, it hasn't received many endorsements yet, so I put it in my top ten to get it more attention. It will soon be in the 99+ listings like many other skills.

Edit and Prioritize your LinkedIn Skills.

Having these skills serves two important purposes. First, they are additional uses of the keywords we talked about earlier. Your skills should reflect the topics and expertise that potential clients are looking for. Second, many potential clients will see this list and if you've done a good job of optimizing skills and getting endorsements, this section will help reaffirm what you were talking about in the previous Background section.

So before we move on, let me touch on an obvious question many of you may have at this point, "how do I get more endorsements?" I don't ever recommend asking for endorsements. Either you're asking people you don't know and that's awkward, or you're asking people you do know and whom you've worked with, and that seems a waste. If I've worked for you and done a good job, I'm better served by asking for a recommendation, which I'll get to in a moment. Instead, focus on giving endorsements. Each time you view someone's profile, LinkedIn will suggest a few endorsements, and as long as they seem appropriate, go ahead and endorse them. Then, LinkedIn will bring up four of your other connections and recommend skills to endorse them for, do those too. Each time you endorse someone else, they'll get a notification that you did that for them, and be prompted to endorse you for a skill in return.

Do you see the beauty of this system? Not only are you being nice to other people and encouraging more endorsements for yourself, you're also regularly "dripping" on your other connections in a very unobtrusive yet valuable way.

So as soon as you've finished optimizing your own skills, go endorse a bunch of your connections. Make that a party of your daily LinkedIn routine (which we'll expand on in a moment).

(That said, if you think I've shown particular expertise with LinkedIn as a result of this or other posts, please do feel free to visit my LinkedIn profile, scroll down within the Skills & Endorsements section, and give me a happy endorsement for "LinkedIn" by clicking the + button to the right of that skill. Thanks!)

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15. Move Sections Around

Another feature that many LinkedIn members aren't aware of is that some of the sections of your profile can be moved around, allowing you to customize and prioritize the information you present connections and prospects.

Look for this icon in the upper right of your sections: Move LinkedIn Sections

Sections that can be rearranged include:

  1. Summary
  2. Skills & Endorsements
  3. Publications
  4. Certifications
  5. Projects
  6. Additional Info
  7. Volunteer Experience & Causes
  8. Organizations
  9. Experience
  10. Education
  11. Courses

And that happens to be the order in which I currently display my information. Note that Experience and Education are near the bottom — that's because none of my clients and prospects have ever asked me where I went to school, or what my previous jobs were. If you're trying to get hired, these are critical points of data, but not important for getting business.

Within some of the sections, you can also reorder elements. We already talked about Skills & Endorsements, but you should also review the order of information you have within:

  • Publications
  • Projects
  • Volunteer Experience & Causes
  • Education

You might also be using a few sections that I'm not: Languages, Honors & Awards, Test Scores or Patents. If those apply, make sure you use them and place them accordingly.

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16. Add / Update Projects

The Projects section is an ideal place to show off some of your actual work, similar to a portfolio. One of the great ways in which you can communicate to a potential client what you can do for them is by showing them what you've done for other similar businesses.

Unfortunately, it's currently a rather static section. Individual projects are listed much like past job experience, without the option to add Media. If you can provide an outstanding description of what you did, or perhaps the names/brands themselves will lend some weight, definitely take advantage. If, however, you work in a more visual field, I recommend having a gorgeous portfolio on your own website and linking to it from here.

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17. Add / Update Publications

Publications isn't just for published books and written work, though if you've been published that should definitely be included here. You can also include links to blog posts, particularly if you've contributed articles on sites other than your own.

I list my book first, and then some of my best guest articles on other sites and publications.

Edit and Add Publications to LinkedIn

I wouldn't recommend listing every single one of your guest articles here — just a nice sample to show a prospect that you've been published elsewhere, beyond your own website. 4 - 6 entries in this section seems like a reasonable number. But of course there are always exceptions. Just like the one-page resume rule can be broken by someone with an exceptional history, if you've been published in a dozen incredible places, or have an extensive library of books that you've authored, list 'em.

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18. Ask for Recommendations and Give Recommendations

Recommendations are an extraordinarily powerful tool within LinkedIn. They represent independent reviews of your business, and can go a long way toward establishing your expertise with potential prospects.

And while recommendations can only be displayed for the specific position for which they were given, they're still a powerful conversion tool.

Make sure that you're displaying all of the recommendations you've received. And then take the time regularly to ask your satisfied customers and connections for recommendations.

Note that I said "your satisfied customers and connections." Do not ask your other connections, who have never worked with you, for a recommendation. If I don't know you beyond our LinkedIn connection, why would I recommend you?

Now, that said, it's becoming increasingly common for people to offer recommendations for other people based on the value they've provided, even if it wasn't a paid position. For instance, I recently wrote a recommendation for Peg Fitzpatrick based solely on her blog content and the incredible knowledge she's shared with me freely. I offered that recommendation without any expectation of receiving one in return, but the fact is the more often you recommend others, particularly for less transactional relationships and benefits, the more recommendations you will receive in return.

I also have an article that can help you with writing LinkedIn recommendations so that they're both powerful and effective, yet not time consuming to create.

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19. Regularly Share Relevant and Interesting Status Updates

Sharing status updates to LinkedIn isn't just about putting your content into the stream and driving traffic - it's about establishing your reputation and authority on a given topic. It's about demonstrating a willingness to share information that your followers might find helpful. And it's about making sure that your presence on LinkedIn is active and engaged.

So sharing updates helps keep your profile fresh, as well as bring more attention to it.

But don't forget the "relevant and interesting" part. You can't just spam company news and specials, or random news items. Unlike Facebook, your connections expect you to provide real value and professional content. That means sharing your own blog posts as well as links to other people's articles and content. News and information that relates to your business and is of interest to your followers.

For instance, if you're in the social media field, or business/marketing in general, sharing this post to your LinkedIn stream would be helpful to followers and an easy update. Just click the share button and add a sentence about why you think others will find this guide useful.

I recommend a combination of live updates and pre-scheduled activity.

The live updates are simply shares of content that catch my attention throughout the day. They're most often published posts from my other connections, which I'll get into in a moment. The updates might also include the latest posts from my favorite bloggers, news items from my industry, or other articles I've surfaced using tools like the Syndicator app within my Hootsuite dashboard.

The pre-scheduled activity is 75% my own evergreen content. I've got over 400 articles here on my site that are all evergreen and interesting... and have been missed by many of my followers and connections. By routinely re-sharing this old content, I can surface those articles for many more people. I use Buffer to schedule and manage my LinkedIn status updates.

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20. Regularly Publish Posts

LinkedIn has implemented an actual blogging platform within the network which allows you to craft and publish posts like you would on your own blog. I will be sharing more soon on my own experiences and why I think it's such a great idea in general, but for now, let's focus on what Published Posts do for your profile.

When you share a status update on LinkedIn, it appears in the stream of your followers and is quickly buried under the updates from all of their other connections. When you create a Published Post, however, it appears at the top of your profile, just above your Summary. In fact, your most recent two posts appear. If you include a great image with the posts, they really add a great element front and center. (This is also why it's so important not to publish rubbish there.)

Publish Posts to LinkedIn through your status update bar.

So just like with your own blog, make sure that you're regularly sharing great new posts directly on LinkedIn.

If you don't yet have access to this feature, just wait. LinkedIn is gradually rolling it out to all members.

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21. Review Group Memberships

Finally, take a moment each month to review the LinkedIn Groups that you're a member of. Are they offering you valuable discussions and connection opportunities? Are you in groups that are appropriate for your business and industry? And have you joined the maximum 50 groups? While many LinkedIn Groups have devolved to nothing more than link dumps, there are still many that can be valuable assets. Participate in those groups, and make sure that viewers of your profile can see the groups that you're in.

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22. Check Your Profile on Mobile and Embeds

With more and more people using their smartphones to network and research (and LinkedIn reports 47% of usage is via mobile currently), how your profile looks to a mobile user is important. So take a few moments to open the LinkedIn app on your device and review your own profile.

Nearly half (47%) of LinkedIn usage is via mobile app, resulting in 15 million daily profile views.

Tweet This Stat

Now, some of the fields will be a bit different since you're logged in and able to edit your profile on mobile, but the overall layout and information will be the same for you as for other users.

Is your profile image clear? Is your title succinct enough? Does everything else look OK?

Check your profile within the mobile LinkedIn app.

Along the same lines, think about whether or not you're embedding your LinkedIn profile anywhere. Most people aren't, or if they are, they're only using the LinkedIn Badge as a static image. But LinkedIn does offer a widget that displays a portion of your profile, much like Google+ and Facebook, so keep that in mind. If you're embedding that widget anyplace within your website, double-check it as well for both functionality and appearance.

By the way, if you're interested in displaying your own profile widget or any of the other available LinkedIn widgets, they're available on the LinkedIn Plugins page.

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23. Daily LinkedIn Activity

Like every other network, success on LinkedIn requires that you be present regularly. There are many activities that you can be doing with regard to lead generation and prospect research, but there are a specific set of activities I recommend you perform daily.

  1. Endorse Others
  2. Review Recent Profile Views
  3. Share Evergreen Content
  4. Share Curated Content
  5. Comment on Group Posts

We talked above about the importance of regularly endorsing other people. Whether or desktop or mobile, take a few minutes each day to endorse some of your connections, and you'll be rewarded for the effort.

One of the interesting and unique aspects of LinkedIn is that the network will show you a portion of the members who are viewing your profile. While this may feel somewhat like stalking at first, the reality is that people are checking out our profiles on every social network all day long. We usually just aren't given the courtesy of a heads-up. So take advantage of the fact that you have access to this information, and pay attention to who is reviewing your profile. You may find that a prospect or even a cold lead has viewed your profile, and might be an opportunity to open a conversation.

Throughout each day, you should be sharing status updates that offer your connections interesting, valuable information. To me, as mentioned earlier, that means sharing a combination of links to my own articles, and links to articles other people have published, creating a constant, helpful stream of posts. I use a combination of manual shares, Buffer and Hootsuite to make sure that each day, I'm providing value, but also ensuring that those posts aren't all shared at once. So each morning, at a minimum, queue up some shares for throughout the day.

And finally, make sure that you have some measure of activity in your most important LinkedIn Groups. Have some specific groups identified and pop into them for a few minutes each day to see what other members have shared, and engage with them. Like a few posts or leave a comment if you're so inclined. If you find a particularly interesting article, share it with your own audience and mention that person so they know you appreciated what they shred.

A lot of this activity can be done via mobile, so make sure you have the mobile LinkedIn app installed for either iOS or Android.

Here's a quick infograph to help you remember all of these tips:

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Business Success

Share this Image On Your Site

If you take the time up front to make your LinkedIn profile as good as it can be, and then follow up with these kinds of regular activities, you'll see see your number of connections rising, your engagement with others improving, the traffic to your website from LinkedIn increasing, and your number of leads and sales as a result of LinkedIn going up.

Once you've made some or all of these changes and improvements to your LinkedIn profile, be sure to review how it looks! LinkedIn has upgraded your ability to preview your profile. Click on the View Profile As button to transition to preview mode. LinkedIn then allows you to toggle between Connections and Public. Make sure everything about your LinkedIn profile looks perfect for you, and in line with your business goals.

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BONUS: Expert Tips on LinkedIn

Expert Tip #1: Sarah Santacrose suggests, "I would add [to work on] the 'Additional Info' section where you can add your 'interests' = think keywords and add 'Advice for contacting Mike'. This can be used as a 'closing' where you remind people one more time how they can reach you and you sign off with your first and last name (just like you would close a letter)."

Expert Tip #2: Stephan Hovnanian points out that it's important to remember your LinkedIn profile when you have new campaigns or events going on. Your Summary is a great place to highlight what's happening right now or special offers, and a good place to invite viewers into your opt-in list, particularly if you have a digital download to offer.

Expert Tip #3: Andy Foote writes that the Summary remains one of the most important sections on your LinkedIn Profile. Why? Because it’s the only area on the Profile where you get to define yourself from scratch, with a blank sheet, unencumbered by dates, labels or other text boxes. Because it’s the first thing people read whether they’ve decided to click on your Photo/Headline or if they’ve actively searched on your name. Because it’s personal – it’s where people look to find out what makes you tick. This excerpt is from his post "3 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Profile Summaries" which has been shared on LinkedIn over 1,000 times!

Expert Tip #4: Theresa Merrill says that being proactive is the key to generating leads on LinkedIn. "Who's viewed my profile" is where you engage with LinkedIn users that may not be connections yet. What I advise is you acknowledge this viewer, just as you would acknowledge someone who walked into your place of business. First, look at the person's profile to learn who they are, and what common bonds you share. Then use that information to compose a customized invite that shows you did your homework. I use an invitation to do this, so at the very least I obtain a new connection, which is always a goal. In addition to mentioning you saw they viewed your profile, and something you know about them, I always provide a valuable tip for their profile. This builds a strong foundation for your new relationship. To learn more networking tips read Theresa's post.

Expert Tip #5: Neal Schaffer suggests that, "In order to maximize your company’s exposure on LinkedIn … every sales and marketing employee that represents your business needs to have a LinkedIn profile." Such connections increase your own company's visibility, as well as that of your individual employees. For more on employee advocacy from Neal, click here.

If you have other tips on LinkedIn that have helped you grow your business and influence, please share them in the comments below.

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The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile



References:

While most of the above recommendations and information were obtained through personal observation and experimentation, there are a few statistics and pieces of information shared that came from external sources.




Mike is a Social Media Consultant and Blog Coach in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management" and "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile."

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