It’s 4:54am in Las Vegas, and I can’t sleep. Yesterday, the Ajax team helped 83 people optimize their profiles at our “Pimp My Profile” kiosk, and I’m going through the data. We had 3 consultants on site, each spending an average of 13.4 minutes with our guests and creating a sheet with notes. I played host, keeping things flowing as best as possible. Today will move just as fast, and we’ll work with at least as many guests, and I’m getting ready by reviewing the carbonless copies of yesterday’s notes.
Without even putting this into a spreadsheet, some trends are already becoming clear about common fixes people need right at the top of their profiles. Whether mistakes or oversights, it doesn’t really matter. If you want your profile working for you, take a look and make these changes right away!
- Know your goal! What is it you’re trying to achieve? Without knowing your goal, you can’t know who you should be writing for, or what impression you should be making on them. You can’t know which keywords to prioritize. You can’t know which elements of your current and previous jobs to emphasize, or how much personality to inject into your writing. You can’t know which groups to join, or which to avoid. Or how best to approach building your network. Knowing your goal gives you direction, purpose, and clarity. Without it, you’re likely to turn your LinkedIn profile into an online résumé. (Who needs that?!) Start here!
- Write a headline that is at least informative, and ideally also compelling. People are not looking you up because they couldn’t find your biography on Amazon and this is the next best thing. They’re looking you up because they have a problem and they want to know if you can help them solve it. So to find you, you need to tell them what you do in a way that makes you more interesting than other people who do the same thing. I just did a keyword search for “manager” on LinkedIn. The term appears on 20 million profiles. A little specificity could make you more compelling to people who are looking for a manager with your particular skills!
- Get a vanity URL. The last item in the top gray box on your profile is your public URL. The default is an ugly string of letters and numbers, but by clicking edit, and then scrolling down the right column, you will find the option to turn this link into something that you can put in email sig files and on business cards. Do it! If nothing else, it suggests to visitors that you care enough to shape your environment and make it work for you. And at best, it makes you easier to connect with. Which is the whole point—to build the network you need to be successful!
- Customize your website links. The majority of the people we saw had “Company Website” and/or “Personal Website” links. Which doesn’t tell me anything. Why should I click on those? Hit edit next to your website links. In the dropdown boxes where “Company Website” or “Personal Website” appears, select “Other.” An additional field will appear. Use it to name your link something more descriptive! And while we’re at it… don’t send me to your company’s homepage; send me to a specific page on the website that will be more helpful to me!
- Choose a photo that will help you support your goals. It may be a gorgeous shot of you, but ask yourself: will it help you achieve your goal? We saw a number of people with gorgeous shots of them… taken at weddings or other parties. Maybe these’ll work, maybe not… just ask yourself, “Assuming I’m trying to communicate X to audience Y in order to get them to connect with me so I’m better able to achieve goal Z, does this photo provide the right context to the rest of my message?”
There will be more learnings from the conference, but I’ve got to finish getting ready for a day that starts in an hour and thirteen minutes… I just wanted to quickly share a few things that are jumping out at me. Have a great one!
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.