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How to make the most of your LinkedIn profile

How many times did someone tell you to revamp your LinkedIn profile while you were transitioning/starting a business? It is true that it’s still stuck on your previous job and the experiences and skills that aren’t quite relevant anymore… But how can you reshape it without lying? How can you highlight your worth and legitimacy in a field you have little experience in? Then again, is it really that important?

If only you knew how many times I’ve heard those questions from entrepreneurs… We’ll cover them all in this article.

Why is it so important to have a complete and up to date LinkedIn profile?

LinkedIn has over 930 million users worldwide. It’s the only professional social network with such success. The proof: have you ever typed your name into Google? If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s more often than not the first item in your search results, and always in the top 3.

Your profile is the first thing your online correspondents will see about you. Think of it as a digital hybrid between your resume and your business card: it showcases your experiences and skills, and draws in or secures new clients for your current activity. LinkedIn is a mine of information and an excellent way to maintain and grow your professional network.

So, is it really that important for your activity? YES! Unless you don’t want a network, prospects or visibility…

How can you improve your profile?

Before you get started, you should know that LinkedIn offers the possibility NOT to notify your entire network of every slight change made to your profile. Look in the “Privacy” tab in your settings and deactivate it prior to making any changes!

A few essential tips:

  • A professional and natural-looking photo. Yes, you do need one! The human touch in incalculable: it’s estimated that profile with photos get 11 times more views. Make the effort of posting a clear and well-framed picture that portrays your professional personality. The informal rule is that you should be recognizable on the street by your photo, so it should be recent and show your face well.
  • The title just below you name should indicate your current position, or immediately upcoming. It’s the first thing web surfers read. Keep keywords in mind and get creative, dare to stand apart from other profiles with the same job. Move away from the classic "manager" or "entrepreneur": take advantage of this space to be precise and concise about what you offer and to whom, for example: "I help SMEs to speak out on LinkedIn").
  • The banner: are you going to leave out a free billboard? Use it to highlight your value proposition, your social proof (the companies that trust you, the rating given to you by your customers, etc.). Make it in the colors of your visual identity to stay consistent!
  • An abstract. Do not skip this part: it’s your opportunity to present your new project and how it fits into your career path. What makes you unique? Your personality should be tangible and spark the interest of visitors.
  • I always recommend filling in the following sections, at minimum:
    • Experience: No need to go all the way back to student jobs, but explain your responsibilities in the different jobs you’ve held. Link to the companies’ LinkedIn page, and include any links you deem relevant.
    • Education: Once again, explain your skills you’ve acquired. Be sure to include any continued training you’ve completed and certifications you have obtained.
    • Languages: Especially in Luxembourg! Be honest about your language level.
  • Regarding skills and recommendations, only fill them in if you’ve certain you can quickly achieve a decent amount. To do so, reach out to your professional contacts! I prefer recommendations to skills. It’s more personal.

For all of the above content, remember to use keywords! Like other networks, LinkedIn uses an algorithm to retrieve the most relevant profiles. This makes keywords the easiest and fastest way to show up in search results.

What about when you’ve converted into another profession?

There are three major steps.

 First, do not stress. Don’t delete all of your previous experiences. Do realize that it’s not necessarily bad to be “new” in a line of work, even when you’re over 30. You may approach things from a different angle, come up with less conventional ideas. So, don’t scrap your former life, but take a look at your previous experiences through the filter of your new activity. How did they help you get where you are? What skills did you acquire through them that are useful to you now? Change the descriptions for each one to emphasize those things.

Keep your “old” contacts, they could become future clients, who knows! The more contacts you have, the more visible you are. You will, however, need to work on growing your connections closer to your new line of activity. Get into the habit of sending a request after each professional interaction (meeting, conference, networking, etc.), and include a personal note. I mean it! The people receiving your requests will appreciate your effort. But stick to that: do not add people randomly. A qualified network has more worth than a big one.

Lastly, don’t think of your profile as a static page. To display your legitimacy in your current sector, show that you’re present on a regular basis, either on relevant groups or by posting and/or sharing articles relating to your field. It will be good for your visibility on LinkedIn, and beyond. It’s well worth spending some time on and can be part of an online communications strategy for your new career adventure.

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