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Barry MacQuarrie

Are You Missing the Seven Essential Elements of Your LinkedIn Profile?

August 5, 2010
by Barry MacQuarrie, CPA

LinkedIn has become the premier business-related social network. Almost everyone that I know has a LinkedIn profile and has started using it to connect with other business professionals. I have had the opportunity to look at numerous LinkedIn profiles. Some are great, some are good and some are not so good.

I think it is very important to have a complete LinkedIn profile. It makes it easier for people to find you and for you to find colleagues, clients and classmates. According LinkedIn’s website, “Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.”

This article will focus on seven things you can add to your profile to make it great:

1. Your Photo — You attend a conference and you meet Joe Sullivan, a colleague from Boston. During your discussions, you agree to connect on LinkedIn. You search LinkedIn and discover that there are almost one hundred people named Joseph Sullivan from Boston. Unfortunately, only a few have pictures on their profiles! Good luck finding the right Joseph Sullivan. I recommend that you add a recent professional photograph to your profile so that it is easier for others to find you.

2. Headline — Your headline is very important. There are several places in LinkedIn where a user will see a shortened version of your profile that includes only your name, photograph and headline. According to LinkedIn, “Your headline gives you a way to sum up your professional ‘identity’ in a short phrase.” I recommend adding a fun, creative and meaningful headline to your profile. Try to avoid using your job title or generic phrase such as Accountant.

3. Job History — You can add your current and past positions to your LinkedIn profile. As you add them, LinkedIn will automatically connect your profile to your employer’s company profile. Use the Position Description field to give other users a summary of your responsibilities. LinkedIn uses your job history to build lists of current and former co-workers with whom you might want to connect.

4. Education — LinkedIn provides drop-down menus and text fields that allow you to select Country, State or Province and school name. In addition, you can enter information about your degree, the years you attended the school and the activities or societies in which you were involved. LinkedIn uses your education information to build a list of classmates with whom you can connect. Also, you can use education information or “schools” to filter search results making it easier for you to find connections.

5. Websites — Click the Add Websites hyperlink on your profile and it will open the Additional Information window. From here, you use the drop-down menus to enter the address of your website, your employer’s website, your blog, your RSS feed or your portfolio. Once you add the address, LinkedIn adds a new hyperlink to your profile that reads something like My Website.

Try selecting “Other” from the websites dropdown list. This opens up another field that allows you to customize the website name that is shown on your LinkedIn profile. You can enter the name of your organization, your blog, etc. If you look at my profile, you will see that I have entered SocialCPAs Blog instead of the default My Blog. Why is this so important? It increases your website’s rank within various search engines.

6. Public Profile — LinkedIn assigns a unique address or URL to every profile. By default the address looks something like this:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/99/123/987a

This is not the kind of address that would conveniently fit on your business card or in your e-mail signature. But, this problem can be solved. From the Edit Profile screen, click the Edit link that appears next to your Public Profile. This will take you to a screen that allows you to select a new address. I recommend using your full name if it is available. If your name is as common as Joseph Sullivan, you may need to get creative and use initials or professional designations.

7. Summary — The Summary section of your LinkedIn profile includes sections for Professional Experience and Goals and Specialties. LinkedIn recommends using these fields to “give a brief description of what you have done, what you are doing and the kinds of things in which you are interested.” The site gives numerous examples of short concise descriptions of a person’s professional career. This information allows you to learn about your colleagues and may even allow you to discover that you have a lot in common with a client or co-worker!

Conclusion

Don’t forget that LinkedIn is about building professional relationships. It’s not about advertising your products or services. Your profile should reflect who you are, not what you are trying to sell. A complete profile makes it easier for people to find you and make your connection more meaningful. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you build a great LinkedIn profile.

Enjoy!

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Barry MacQuarrie, CPA, is the director of technology at KAF Financial Group. MacQuarrie has extensive experience working with CPA firm technologies and expertise in workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning, security and paperless office technologies.