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Recently, when I was teaching my Spring Quarter Stanford CS class on business writing, we got to the topic of LinkedIn and how to write a good summary. This led to a surprising revelation that most of the 40 students didn’t really have a well developed, branded LinkedIn profile. And to my surprise, when I asked my own international clients (who live in Silicon Valley) most didn’t have an interesting, well-thought-out LinkedIn profile either. Why not?

Some of the comments I got were:

  • “I didn’t have time yet, but have been meaning to fill it out completely”
  • “I don’t need LinkedIn, I have a job”
  • “In my profession, I can’t really write anything, it’s all confidential”
  • “None of my colleagues has a LinkedIn profile, why should I?”

I don’t understand these arguments, isn’t LinkedIn the perfect vehicle to get your own persona brand out to be seen and read by the very people you might want to reach in the future?

LinkedIn is free or if you do upgrade to the paid account, it’s very inexpensive.

Three Key LinkedIn Profile Tips

The profile will take some time to write, I agree and the three key places in your profile are:

  1. The Headline under your photo – Have a good headline under the photo; this is your personal brand statement. You have 120 characters with which to write a good sentence, which captures the essence (and where you are different) about what you do.
  2. Your Summary – Your summary is where you can write from the heart – I know this sounds really corny – but people are tired of reading artificial jargon filled resume language. Just say what you are passionate about in your job, what makes you go to work every day and why you are good in what you do.
  3. Specialties, Experience, and Interests – In the sections, Specialties, Experiences and Interests, besides filling them out with relevant information, this is the place to load up on keywords that will lead people looking for your specialties to you.

There are lots of articles on how to find relevant keywords. Thomas Petty in particular, can give you all the information you ever wanted about finding and using the right keywords.

To complete your profile, get 3 recommendations from colleagues or supervisors – now. Besides, if you don’t ask now, you will hardly be in a position to if you are laid off in the next months or if you wanted to look for another job at a later date.

Finally, be sure you have a professional, or at least a good quality profile photo.

These tips can all help you brand and market yourself in the future. After all, you want to position yourself in the most positive light possible – just in case that next opportunity comes knocking.

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