How to Use LinkedIn to Stand Out
This is the social media platform for professionals, and it’s one of the places to be to get yourself noticed. I’ve had a profile for quite a few years now. However, I didn’t really start to utilize it to its full potential until a little over a year ago.
Over time I started to realize that this was another platform for me to get my voice out into the world in a more professional setting. This was also a way for me to get myself noticed in ways that I wanted to be noticed in the professional world.
The Light-bulb Came On
Once I came to this realization, I put more work in to my profile. And, I started to share content and create my own posts that highlighted the voice I wanted to project.
Utilizing this platform has gotten people talking more than I could have imagined and I’ve been able to show more people my personality. This has been great since I otherwise may not have ever had an opportunity to connect with these people before.
I also have had more job prospects reach out to me than ever before. Half of the battle is over if the actual companies are reaching out to you to talk about their open position!
When I have people sit down with me to talk about career paths or next steps, this is always a topic that I bring up.
Today, I want to share with you tips to setting up your profile and utilizing it to control your voice – just breaking down the process into more manageable pieces! This is an untapped resource in many ways and I want to help you set yourself up for success on all fronts. After reading this post, you will have a better idea of how to present yourself to the professional world in a meaningful way.
Professional Profile Photo
First things first, choose a photo that is professional. This isn’t your Facebook profile so step up your game.
I paid to get simple head-shots done a few years ago for something else but have continued to use that for my profile. If this isn’t an option, you can take a professional photo with your phone easily! Choose a simple background and a professional outfit and you will be ready to go. Don’t feel like you must do anything special or crazy, solid neutral colors are good here!
Remember, people want to know who you are so choose a pose that allows you to be seen clearly from the shoulders up.
Attention Grabbing Headline
The headline is a very important piece of your profile! You have 120 characters underneath your name that can be customized to help you sum up who you are and what you do.
Many people use this area to highlight what their current position is, or they may highlight being a recent graduate or a candidate of a certain degree/program if they haven’t yet completed it.
My current position doesn’t define me though. If yours doesn’t define you, feel free to step out of the box! Outside of my position at work, I am heavily involved in nonprofit work and have picked up many skills there. I am also passionate about strategic planning so those are areas I chose to highlight.
My current headline is Finance I Nonprofit Development I Strategy
Having my headline this way also has allowed me to put into the minds of others what I want to be thought of for.
Storytelling Summary and Media/Work Examples
Filling out the summary section of your profile is a must! This is your chance to highlight what you are all about.
In my summary, I chose to share why the industry that I work in is important to me. And, highlight what areas of nonprofit work I am passionate about, since it is an important part of my life.
This is a great chance to tell your story, here are some questions to prompt you:
- What is your experience? Give a brief description of this.
- What skills do you have that you want to highlight?
- Are you currently pursuing a degree or certificate, or recently graduated? Use this area to draw attention to that!
- What type of hobbies do you have that others can connect with?
- Include a clear call to action: Are you looking for more connections? Do you want to network over coffee? Use this area to highlight what you are looking for, if anything.
The summary area is also a great place to highlight any documents, photos, sites, videos or presentations that you’ve worked on. In the past, I had contributed to a couple of newsletters and wanted to include these to help tell my story. They were personal and allowed me to show off the nonprofit organization that I support.
If you have something that you can show off, now is the time to upload it!
Detailed Work Experience
This is one of my favorite areas. It became my favorite because I spent so long not knowing what to say. Have you ever felt stuck in this area too?
One day, I took the time to break down everything that I did in my current role and past roles. I didn’t know this was going to help so much in the future!
If you do an exercise like this, you will find that you did way more than you originally thought and that is a pretty cool discovery to make. This will also serve you well for when you want to look for jobs that are a little outside of your normal scope. So, be prepared!
I also used to feel really stuck because I always wanted to include awards or recognition that I received. But, I didn’t always have any to include.
So, what do you say or include if you don’t have anything?
This is a great opportunity to highlight areas that you want to highlight. In one role, I didn’t receive any recognition that I deemed worthy of mentioning. But, a big highlight for me was that I got the chance to help train people on a part of my job. I was very passionate about that part of my job, so I included that.
In my experience, this has worked just as well as any award. Employers have liked hearing I have an interest in training others. And, that I’ve mastered this skill set enough to be able to be successful at it.
Training, setting up a new process, or coming up with a new solution are no easy feats. Take the time to think about anything you’ve done, big or small, and package it up as one of your many skills!
Including your education on your profile is a must! You’ve completed it, so let it work for you.
In this area, I have highlighted courses I’ve taken and any activities/societies that I belonged to.
Once again, nothing is too big or small for this area.
I’ve included my high school, bachelors and master’s education in this area. It may be from a while ago, but I’ve included:
- My school leadership roles from high school
- Serving as dorm hall president in college
- Any sports I’ve participated in
Not that this is going to be the thing to get me the next great job, but it backs up the fact that I’ve been interested in leadership for a long time and that I’ve always lived a life full of activities. These also help to show my personality and tells my story, which is the desired effect.
This is an area that I don’t always see being used. This is an area full of untapped potential.
I started to include my volunteer experience years ago once I started working on projects that were more than one day in length. One Project I did, I would go to once a week for an hour or two. For years, I stuck with it and saw that as a great item to list.
Since that point, I’ve also served as a driver for Meals on Wheels, been on nonprofit boards and gained many more skills to talk about.
I also list this type of information on my resume.
I’ve found that a lot of employers enjoy hearing about this. It has been a great connecting point with others because they usually have their own projects that they work on and want to share.
The organization you are interviewing with may also have their own projects that they get involved with. It could help to support the fact that you are a good fit because they see other areas of potential.
The skills list is a great area that can help you highlight your knowledge. You’ve already included these throughout the other areas of your profile but here is the time to call it out directly. The other great part about this area is that others can endorse the skills you mention.
You can politely ask people if they will endorse certain skills or write a review. We live in a digital age for better or worse. Trust me potential employers will most definitely check out your profile. This could be a good opportunity for them to see what others have to say about you.
If you are at a loss for what to include in this area, don’t be afraid to pull up your detailed work and volunteer experience and begin to pull out words that fit with the skills.
As I mentioned earlier, I am more than my work in the finance industry. So, I have not been afraid to include other skills I have like volunteer management and fundraising strategy.
I chose to utilize the organizations list because I belong to a few different ones. I saw this as a way to connect with others over similar interests and show my support for organizations.
For example, I am a member of the Risk Management Association and the Women’s Foundation of Oregon, and I wanted others to know this.
If you belong to any type of professional organizations or societies, share them! You never know which one will start a conversation with someone or surprise, they may belong to the same one!
When I set out to start creating my own posts, my first thought was what am I going to say that will add value? Don’t get discouraged! There is plenty for you to say that will allow your expertise and personality to show through.
Here are some of the things that I will write a post on:
- Networking events I attend
- Training’s that I am a part of
- Something interesting that I learned during my morning development time
- My nonprofit board involvement
- Interesting articles/blog posts that I come across with my own short summary included
- Presentations that I’ve listened to
I’ve found that the secret to creating your own posts is not that it must be an event you put on yourself or content that you’ve created. Rather the real value is sharing information that is thought provoking, educational or informational.
I’m always taking photos wherever I go which is common in our social media world these days anyway, right? I have begun to share my own photos from places that I go which has added value to the topics that I am sharing. Look for great photo opportunities!
Creating posts on LinkedIn is all around a great way to allow your voice to be heard on topics that are important to you. Showing your thought process and things you are a part of is also a great way for you to show your personality.
The Untapped Resource
LinkedIn has so much to offer to those working in the professional world or those who have their own business. It has served me well with networking opportunities, job prospects and presenting myself as a qualified candidate to those already in my network.
You are now armed with great tips for setting up the important sections of your LinkedIn profile and have some tips on what types of content to post to generate the right kind of buzz.
Go work on your profile today and follow along with our downloadable checklist to make sure your bases are covered.
Even if you aren’t looking for a new job today, there are always opportunities, so be ready!
What are your best LinkedIn tips? Share them with us in the comments.
Be sure to share with your social network too! Just hit the share button.
Brandon and Cristal