Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future

Gradon Tripp I was speaking to one of the best upcoming tech bloggers the other day about LinkedIn, and how I view it. To me, LinkedIn isn’t a place to dump a snapshot of where you’ve been. It’s an opportunity to stay connected to people, and to demonstrate where you are now, and where you plan to go next. To that end, I’ve got a little advice for you to consider applying to your own profile.

Write Your LinkedIn Profile For Your Future

First Impressions

First, your headline matters. It’s what people see when they accept your invite, and it’s probably the fastest first impression one receives. If you work for a company, put that name in the headline. When I don’t see a company name, I wonder if you’re solo.

Your Summary

Here’s where I think the most work can be done. When I look at my profile, I think it’s a bit long, but otherwise, I’ve done the following:

  • Lead with what I do most.
  • Lead with the type of business I want to do.
  • Move into the reasons why you’d do business with me.
  • Move from there into all the nuances of what I do.

In every case within the summary, your plan should be to write from the mindset of the prospective employer (or client), such that when they read it, they think, “I need to hire this person.”

Tip: refresh your summary every two weeks.

Your Work Experience

Here, I do something you might not expect. I make sure my past experience still supports my current and future aspirations. I write the past work experience summary to highlight those functions I performed that will still be useful to the current and future goals. Why? Because if you’re still reading that far down my summary, you want to kick the tires a little on my experience.

Tip: Refresh your past work experience sections every four weeks or so.

Power Moves: Recommendations

Ask people for recommendations. Be smart about it, though. Ask people who can vouch for your abilities.

I receive a few requests for recommendations a week from people I know from Twitter. I’m sorry, but I can’t really vouch for you. And this, to me, the reputation engine part of LinkedIn, is the most important part of the product. I will only recommend people that I would hire for myself, or that I would work for. At the time of this writing (August 2008), I’ve written 146 recommendations.

In both cases, I feel that recommendations are powerful.

What’s Next?

A list of next steps:

  1. Review your LinkedIn profile. Look at it as if you’re a prospective new boss, or a client. Would you hire YOU to do something? If not, rewrite it. Keep it tight. Do as much editing as you can.
  2. Enter your blog’s RSS feed on the profile page. People want more color.
  3. Add a photo. Not one of those weird grown up versions of a school class picture. Find a good candid. If you don’t have one, go to a social media meetup. Someone will snap you a good one. Worried about discrimination? Guess what: they’ll figure it out eventually. Get it out of the way up front.
  4. Start writing quality recommendations for people you can vouch for. If they can do the same for you, ask for one back. If not, hold off. No sense making someone feel awkward.
  5. Grow your network. LinkedIn and I don’t agree on this. I say connect to whoever. It helps you build a network. (I only recommend people I can vouch for, and to me, that’s where who you know or don’t know really matters).
  6. Keep looking at your profile as it applies to your future.

My own LinkedIn profile is here. If you want to connect, I use linkedin at chrisbrogan dot com as my address.

And you? What’s worked well for you?

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

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