4 things you need to do when getting your LinkedIn profile in shape for 2016

If someone came to a business meeting in a pair of scuffed shoes, a shirt with buttons hanging off it, and a garbled, half complete spiel, what would you think?

Scruffy? Half hearted? Doesn’t really care about professional brand, or maybe even about their job?

You’d never dream of turning up to a business meeting like this.  First impressions count, we all know that.

Now consider your LinkedIn profile. As the business world moves increasingly online, our online representations now matter just as much as encounters like this. So, how does your LinkedIn profile look right now?

Scruffy?… Half hearted?… Doesn’t really care about professional brand, or maybe even about their job?

Point made! So, this New Year, alongside your grand ideas of becoming a capoeira convert and a mandarin master, do something really practical: review and improve your LinkedIn profile.

Here’s some tips we’ve pulled together to help you on your way:

#1 Be prepared to give it some time, and ensure you complete all sections

Your LinkedIn will take some time. And remember, this isn’t your CV – this is your online profile. Resist the temptation to copy parts of your company website, or paste / upload your existing CV, and ensure you complete as many of the sections as you possibly can, including uploading a (professional) photo.

Before you start writing content, consider your audience. Who might look at this? Colleagues, customers, recruiters, your boss, and your team are probably the most likely culprits. With this in mind, think through what each of those parties might be looking for. Most likely, what they want to see can be distilled down to the following points of interest: who you are, what you do, what your company does and can offer, why you are are good at your job, and what you have accomplished.

#2 Be personal, and carve out your USP

Think hard about what makes you different to your peers. Think of your LinkedIn summary like the landing page of a website, you need to give people a reason to stay and read on. You should use this section to really provide a high-level overview of your key strengths, key skills and your motivation for why you do what you do. If you’re struggling, think about why you have performed better at some tasks than others. Think about when you have been relied upon by management, what skill is it that you have that others may not? Don’t worry about being too “personal” – the best LinkedIn summaries have character and voice. Don’t seek to be “quirky”, but if you are naturally creative, embrace this as the platform to be professionally personal.

#3 Make it achievement focused, and keep it concise

If you’re a Financial Accountant, I don’t really want to read your entire job description on LinkedIn, so don’t do a copy and paste job! I want to read a succinct overview of your role mandate, including your main objectives (3-4 lines maximum), and then see few highlights, in bullet point format, to demonstrate how you’ve added value in each role. Just like when you are writing a CV, what accomplishments can you put forth – reduction in month-end close, business improvement projects, systems implementations? That’s what I want to read about!

#4 Be conscious of your language style, and write in the first person

We’re in the online world here. It’s the land of Gen Y, of Google and Twitter, and what isn’t needed is a formal suit. Yes, absolutely, grammar must be spot on, but you can certainly become more “you” in your approach to language. This isn’t a professional business case, letter or CV, and as such, you have a degree of creative input. Write in the first person, definitely not the third, and keep your language style much more conversational than on a CV, or business document. Avoid the use of overused words like “dynamic”, “creative” and “extensive”, and try to keep company specific jargon or acronyms to a minimum, unless they are an industry standard.

Above all, be honest, and remember the public nature of your information. Your LinkedIn profile should definitely “sell you,” but get your facts, dates, numbers and claims straight. Make sure it represents your career history correctly and consistently, down to qualifications and months of employment.

New year, new you. Do justice to your LinkedIn profile, and get your online representation as smart as your offline one.

For more great insights from Barden see here.

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