11 Tips for Maximizing Your LinkedIn Professional Branding You Need to Know Now
By Beth Granger
Healthcare professionals should be using LinkedIn as part of their professional branding and thought leadership activities. It is powerful because it is content you control.
LinkedIn changes its interface and features frequently, and doesn't always announce it. People sometimes get a bit freaked out when they log in and it looks different than the day before. I've even had different experiences on different browsers.
Here are 11 tips to be aware of now:
1. Yes, you need a profile photo.
No one likes his or her photo, but get over it. Really. No one wants to do business with an "empty head" icon. The same goes for Twitter by the way. You need a professional image. Please don't use a photo from vacation with the people next to you cut off.
2. Making a background image will set you apart since not everyone has one. Think of it as your personal/professional billboard.
"But, I'm not a graphic designer," is the excuse I often hear. You can always hire a designer to make your graphics, not just for LinkedIn, but for all your social media. You can also use an easy, and free application like canva.com. Pick the custom dimensions button and enter 1584 x 396 pixels for a profile background image.
Be aware that only the center section shows up on mobile, so don't put anything you consider vital on the outside edges of your image. Learn more in another article I wrote.
Some organizations will develop background graphics for their staff so the branding is consistent.
3. Think of your headline (text under your name) as your 120-character elevator speech.
By default, your headline will be your job title, but don't waste this space. Use it to start telling your story. It can be a single statement or multiple keyword and phrases. The format that works for many people is: I work with (insert your ideal client or industry) to (what do you do for them?). Do include the keywords that apply to you.
Secret extra tip (shhh, don't tell anyone): If you need an extra character or two you can currently get them if you update your headline on the mobile app.
4. How to get special characters to use in your headline or profile text.
You have probably noticed special characters in headlines, and noticed because it gets attention. LinkedIn doesn't allow formatting such as making text bold within your summary or job descriptions. This makes it hard to highlight content, so special characters can be helpful, as long as you don't overdo it.
In addition to using all caps, dashes, pipes, bullets, or spacing, you can use special characters. If you look at my profile you will see I use a phone and an email icon at the start of my summary, and currently (I change things frequently) bullets in my headline.
You can access the hidden characters in different ways depending on your operating system. Learn more about accessing characters on the Mac or PC (Windows 10).
5. If your headline is your 120-character elevator speech, your summary is what you say when someone says, "Tell me more."
Your summary is the place to tell your story, express your passion for what you do, and be findable for appropriate keywords. Do write it in first person. This is not your third-person bio.
6. Attach media to your Summary and current role under Experience.
"Lead with the need" as in all writing online. In this case, only two lines of text from the Summary show up on your profile before the "see more" link to click. Those two lines need to be compelling enough to get people to click.
Also, people don't really read online and tend to scan instead. Use short paragraphs, bulleted lists, and other techniques to make it a quicker read.
You can attach PDFs or link to video or other content. This is prime real estate on your profile. Use it! If you upload media under your current role it will be visible as people scroll, unlike hidden within the "see more" of the Summary.
7. Write articles, like this one, and post status updates about relevant topics.
You will get good exposure with your connections and their connections (your second connections) by writing articles and status updates that highlight your expertise.
A great thing to note is that when you write an article here LinkedIn does not take the copyright from you. It is still your content. I have a friend that wanted to write a book. He wrote a chapter at a time as an article. Then pulled them together, added the intro, conclusion, and some additional content... and there was his book.
Also, your articles and updates will show up on your profile. Again, real estate you control! See a screen capture below of what my articles and updates area of my profile looks like below.
An example of LinkedIn changing things... Just this morning the link in the image below that says "Manage Followers" appeared on my page. This is a powerful update. Thank you LinkedIn. I can now see who my second or third-connection followers are and decide if I want to interact with them directly.
8. VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO.
LinkedIn has added the ability to do live video or upload video on mobile, and is rolling out the ability to have video on desktop.
Video is so powerful. I urge you to use it here, and on other platforms as well.
I was asked what types of video to do and how produced it should be. I mentioned that the first video I saw on LinkedIn was someone walking outside. The sound quality was horrible. I wanted to shout, "Get a mic with a wind shield."
Most people realize that when a video is live the quality will not be as good as a produced video.
9. Change the order of your endorsements
By default your Skills and Endorsements are ordered most endorsed to least. Since only three of them show on your profile without clicking to see more, you want the most important three (to you) to show.
To change the order:
Go to your profile and scroll to the Skills and Endorsements
Click on the blue pencil to the right of the heading
See the reorder section on the right.
Click and drag on the three lines (called a hamburger) to reorder.
Save your changes.
10. Get recommendations
Having recommendations on your profile is a powerful thing, whether for career advancement or for potential clients or patients to see how fabulous you are.
I was asked how to get recommendations when it is so much easier for people to endorse you with a single click. The time to ask, I explained, is when someone is thanking you in person, on the phone, or by email. That is the perfect time to say, "You are very welcome. Would you be open writing what you just said as a recommendation on LinkedIn?"
11. Stay current on the frequent LinkedIn changes
Following me on LinkedIn is an easy way to learn about all the updates because I share updates about LinkedIn and other social media frequently. Here is a recent example.
Of course, checking in here on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network is also a great way to stay current on LinkedIn and all things social.
Beth Granger is a member of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network and has participated in Social Media Residency. She is a consultant based in the greater New York City area.
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