Let’s get something straight from the outset: LinkedIn is not Facebook/Instagram/Twitter or any other social media network. While they each have their respective value, LinkedIn should remain what it was designed for: A professional network. Let’s also leave politics and religion out of it.
I’ve read through several articles and posts trying to guide folks to make a professional profile and found that despite much information available, all too many people have not taken any advice. So, for my network, I write this post for you. I will also make certain assumptions and they are: you will always maintain truthfulness, honesty and integrity throughout. Here are a handful of strategies to enhance your LinkedIn profile.
1. Temporarily Turn Off Activity Broadcast
If you’ve already connected with folks and are looking to re-build or modifying your profile, temporarily turn off your update broadcasts. Forgetting to do this will fill your connections ‘Wall’ with all your update notices. There is nothing more frustrating to connections seeing every little detail about you being modified/updated/edited however many times. For illustrative purposes let’s assume you are preparing your personal statement to send to your 100 connections and prospective employers. Turning this function off is equivalent to editing your personal statement privately. By leaving it on, it sends every sentence to your group in real time. Get the picture? Good, turn it off.
To do this, go to ‘Profile’, => ‘Edit Profile’ and right hand bar you will see the disable button Turn on/off ‘Notify your Network’. There is another way through settings and they do the same thing. You can choose to leave it off or turn it on after you’re done editing. I would turn it ‘On’
2. It's All in the Details
Take advantage of the LinkedIn guide as it step by step asks you to add/plug in information. Each section tells a more complete story about you. Let’s face it when you see your life as a proverbial book, it’s less inviting and somewhat frustrating when you’re missing some chapters. Your profile is similar to your CV/resume, where you display your past education information, work experience, skills, current work position and profile picture. Just like you would put on your CV an Objective/headline be sure to add one on your LinkedIn profile. Newspapers have perfected this since “yellow journalism” was founded in the 1800’s: learn from it and you’ll make an impression. Where this differs from your CV, LinkedIn can be your digital brand. Use what you like to stand out. Be creative and have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to be a little personal. Your profile is like a sales ticket, nobody is interested unless you stand out. Be truthful and it will all come together.
In the age of internet searching keywords has become the new Index to look things up. Throughout your profile, headline, summary and the body, use key words. Think about the last time you wanted to “Google” something, you use keywords to search. This is no different. Advanced searches allow for prospective employers to search using keywords.
Quick Tip: Go to “Google” and start entering your keywords. Google will auto-populate suggestions for searches. These suggestions are top searches performed on Google by other people. You get the picture
Would you ever submit anything to a professor or employer without proofreading? I hope not. You’re CV and your LinkedIn profiles are no different. Grammar and spelling are important. If English is your 2nd language, get help! When telling a story, tell it so it is coherent and well structured. A fragmented thought conveys confusion. Your story is important so make people want to read it without struggling. This also means check your name: is it clean, did you accidently put your last name first? If you are a doctor is Dr. capitalized properly? Proofread!
4. Profile Picture
This is not an option. If you do not use a picture you’re foolish. The default avatar is for idiots and folks who are disinterested in their profile. People like to know who they are connecting with and makes it more personal when there is a photo rather than a blank space. You’ve been looking at yourself in the mirror for years; let others see you as well. Be proud!
Again, this is not Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat or anything else. Professional photos are not necessary but you want to look professional. You should be alone in the picture and not some cropped photo you took when you were out with your friends. Take the time to get it right. Also, I can’t believe this needs to be said but if you upload your photo, make sure it is not upside-down or sideways. Also, pictures of you as a baby or your pets or the beach are nice but not on LinkedIn. A Good quality and recent profile picture of you is the safest bet.
5. Stay Active & Be Opinionated
If you ever went to a school dance or a dance club there are those who are dancing and having fun and there are those who are looking at those who are dancing (wishing that someone would dance with them). They are the ones usually looking on from the perimeter. The only way to join the party is to get involved. Staying active on LinkedIn either through group discussions, writing posts, and/or sending relevant updates can make all the difference. Don’t play devil’s advocate but share your thoughts. This is sure to bolster discussions.
- Add your linked in profile as part of your auto signature on your email. This is an indirect way of exposing your profile.
- If you have a twitter account that is personal, DO NOT connect it to your professional LinkedIn account. Remember the two are not the same. If you maintain them professionally then connect, you can selectively share posts from LinkedIn to Twitter. This connection is easily done under ‘setting’ => ‘Manage Your Twitter Settings’.
- Get recommendations. Don’t be shy: ask for them.
Now that you have the perfect profile start reaching out to folks. In 2014 LinkedIn reported that they have nearly 300 million users worldwide: Get Connected! I'll be waiting.
As always, comments and suggestions are welcomed. If you have an idea for future topics please share and we can collaborate.
Michael Farca served as a residency program coordinator for the Department of Medicine at one of the largest training programs in the country. He became the Department Administrator with continued oversight of the residency program, 2 primary site fellowships and 3 rotating fellowships. Michael has dedicated over a decade to graduate medical education and is board certified in Teaching Administrators for Graduate Medical Education (C-TAGME).