There’s no doubt LinkedIn is a crucial social network if you care about your career. A recent Jobvite study noted that 73 percent of all hires made through social networks were via LinkedIn and 41 percent of employee referrals for jobs involved LinkedIn.
One of the most useful aspects of any social media platform is the opportunity for people to find you. The adage, “If Google doesn’t know you, you may be no one,” is becoming more prevalent in today’s socially focused environment. LinkedIn tends to rank very well in Google searches, so having an optimized profile is one useful way to be found online.
[See The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]
It’s also important to stand out within LinkedIn. When someone is searching for a candidate with your expertise in that network, how can you help ensure your profile comes up high in their search results? Brad Mauney, LinkedIn’s senior product manager, search & social graph, says part of the algorithm LinkedIn uses to determine where you rank in a given search takes into account 1) how often your profile comes up in LinkedIn’s search results and 2) how often searchers click through to view your information when it does appear.
How can you influence this elusive aspect of being found in LinkedIn? Mauney emphasizes the importance of creating a profile that engages viewers and entices them to click through to learn more about you.
How can you encourage people to want to know more about you on LinkedIn? Mauney suggests the following:
Include a picture in your profile. Krista Canfield, LinkedIn’s senior manager, corporate communications, says, “Folks who have a photo are seven times more likely to have their profile viewed in general than folks who don’t have a photo.” While the statistic does not include data about the type of photo, it’s a good idea to use a picture where you appear friendly and approachable. Smile, and be sure you look like yourself, but on a good day! Use appropriate lighting; a professional photo is a great idea, but if that is not possible, take a close-up of your face, wearing clothing that isn’t distracting or busy.
Write an engaging headline. What can you include in your headline to pique a reader’s curiosity? Since your headline appears in search results, it naturally affects how many people decide to click through to learn more about you. Since you can improve your overall ranking in search by earning more click-throughs, pay special attention to your headline. Mauney suggests incorporating an elevator pitch in the headline and not limiting it to your current job title.
Grow your network. Another important factor influencing click-throughs is whether or not you are connected to the person searching. Statistically, people are more likely to click through to learn more about someone if they share a common connection. (Search results list levels of connectivity.) Mauney says a baseline of at least 50 people in your LinkedIn network is important to help users begin to see a real benefit from their connections. He noted that a “trusted network” is the most useful, and encouraged LinkedIn users to connect with people they actually know or do business with.
Other suggestions to help people find you on LinkedIn?
Completely fill out your LinkedIn profile with as many details as possible. For example, don’t just list your master’s degree; include all of your education information. It also helps to include details from all of your past and present positions.
Think about the searcher’s intent. What terms are they most likely to use? What are the industry standard’s terms? Don’t be too creative. Maybe “guru” is a fun title, but is anyone really searching for a “guru?” Incorporate keywords in your profile and in the optional sections (such as skills, volunteer work, etc.) Mauney suggests adding information in the sections where it makes most sense; LinkedIn’s search will find it.
Titles and “headlines” are important in LinkedIn. Use them well, and be descriptive. For example, “vice president” may be your official title, but if you include more specific information, such as, “vice president, business development and strategic partnerships,” you may help someone find you.
Use LinkedIn’s various tools, including “groups” and “answers.” Engage with new contacts and grow your trusted network of colleagues.
Being found is important, and you want to make it easy for people who are looking for someone like you to find you. When using social networking tools, such as LinkedIn, your results are in your hands. Tap all resources at your disposal to improve your chances to connect with key influencers.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.