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How to build the perfect LinkedIn profile

By Sarah Bloomfield on 14.01.16 in Your Career

While LinkedIn is technically social media, it's for professionals - rather than the party pages that are Facebook and Instagram. It is a market place and networking platform that can, if done properly, boost your career prospects as well as being a place to showcase your skills and expertise. In order to elevate yourself above the mundane, there are several things you need to do to make your profile perfect. 

Your name. 

Make sure you use your real name - the one you are known by professionally. LinkedIn is not a place for your alias. You can customise your URL - so that it reads: www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME. If you personalise your URL, it will make searching for you very easy. You can also share it on your email signature, blog, website and even stick it on a good, old-fashioned business card. 

Photograph. 

It may seem obvious, but a professional picture of you is essential. LinkedIn is no place for skimpily clad party shots. This is not a dating site; it is where prospective employers and recruitment consultants will go to check you out before approaching you for an interview. You don't have to spend a fortune, enlist a friend to take some headshots - digital cameras produce high-quality images and you can view them immediately they are taken. An unprofessional photo speaks volumes and can be the difference between an interview and being overlooked. 

Top line. 

The headline of your LinkedIn profile is vital. You need to keep it short, snappy and relevant. For example: Digital marketing/social media/available for work. Recruitment consultants and employers tend to do a key word search. If you include them in the top line of your profile, this will make you visible. It is a good idea to update it regularly, but remember not to waffle. 

Research keywords. 

Before you start to write your summary, it is best to try and work out the sorts of keywords recruitment consultants and employers are likely to search for. If you are looking for a job in marketing, you should be pretty familiar with the sorts of terms associated with your role. You can always check them by using the Google keyword search tool. Whilst it is important to include as many relevant keywords in your profile, you need to bear in mind that it has to be readable and engaging at the same time. 

Summary. 

This is perhaps the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It is best to keep it to around 150-200 words. Eloquence is the key - that and the keywords mentioned above. Make sure you include your best career moments, what motivates you, what you are looking for, your career goals and how people can contact you. 

Experience. 

This is effectively your CV - indeed, you can upload it if you want to, but make sure it is readable. Bullet points are always best and make sure you have spell checked it! If you have a blog or website, remember to include a link. Visuals that can illustrate your experience are also useful - so remember to upload them. 

Get recommended.

Recommendations are a fantastic way of showing off your expertise and personality. If you have done good work, ask they write a recommendation - far better to have someone else blowing your trumpet than doing it yourself. The more you can accumulate, the better your LinkedIn profile will look. If someone asks you to write one, get him or her to return the favour. 

Lastly, aside from making sure your profile is 100% complete, aim to expand your network to the max. It is through networking that opportunities arise. Get involved with relevant groups - there are so many to choose from, engage with your peers and those you look up to. Sensible comments in a group discussion will showcase your expertise as well as expanding your contacts base. You can also use the blogging tool on LinkedIn to write about issues relevant to your industry - this can also be shared on Twitter too. Check your newsfeed daily and comment or share items that interest you and are useful to your connections. But remember, keep it real, keep it truthful and stay professional.