For those of us who live in cold weather climates, turning the calendar page to April is a glorious moment. Although it’s still cold outside, you know that spring really is on the way. If you’re like me, that first whiff of warm air also gives you the decluttering bug. That’s right — it’s spring cleaning season. While most of us do some spring cleaning in our homes and offices, today I’m going to talk about spring cleaning online. These days, our computers and databases and social networking profiles can become just as cluttered and musty as our closets and garages and desk drawers.
If you feel as if your LinkedIn experience could use some sprucing up this spring, try implementing these 5 tips:
1. Kick-start your keywords. If you’re not attracting a lot of interest to your LinkedIn profile, take a look at what words you use to describe yourself. They might be doing more harm than good. Last month, LinkedIn released a list of the top 10 LinkedIn profile terms that are most overused by professionals based in the United States. According to LinkedIn data, those terms are: Extensive experience Innovative Motivated Results-oriented Dynamic Proven track record Team player Fast-paced Problem solver Entrepreneurial Why should you avoid these words? They’re not “bad” in and of themselves, but because they are so common on LinkedIn profiles, they can appear empty or meaningless to a potential employer or networking contact; there’s nothing memorable about them. If you have these words on your profile, try replacing them with more specific descriptions of your accomplishments and skills.
2. Feature a new photo. One of the first things people see when they click on your LinkedIn profile is your headshot. Could yours use some improvement? Your LinkedIn photo accompanies all of your status updates, group discussion comments and any other activity on the site, so you want it to be a positive reflection of you. I like LinkedIn photos that are high quality (not blurry or grainy), professional (not casual snapshots or screen grabs of wedding photos with the spouse cut out) and those that feature a smile or positive expression. One recent trend I’ve noticed is taking one’s photo in career context. For instance, if you work in the sports industry, take a photo in a stadium. If you work for a university, take a photo in front of the school’s main building or statue. This immediately places you in context and makes you memorable. (Note: It’s okay if you don’t want to include a photo for privacy reasons, but if you’re going to post a picture, make sure it’s a good one.)
3. Add a few apps. Another smart way to perk up your profile is to add some LinkedIn Applications. If you travel frequently, try TripIt, which enables you to share your travel itineraries and potentially set up appointments and build deeper relationships with LinkedIn connections in the cities you visit. If you’re a visual type, consider SlideShare or Google Presentation, which allow you to add presentations to your profile. I also love the Reading List by Amazon, which invites you to post books you’re reading and share your reviews with your LinkedIn connections. The overall goal of adding more applications is to give people as many reasons as possible to find something in common with you.
4. Get active in groups. As the manager of a LinkedIn group, I’ve noticed that my group has some “stars” — people who consistently post thoughtful, engaging comments and draw the attention and admiration of other group members. There’s no reason you can’t be one of those stars. All it takes is a commitment to share interesting and relevant articles, to comment on popular discussions, to help people when they ask for advice or ideas and to respond to group who comment on any discussions you begin. Think of posting a discussion in a LinkedIn group as the online version of hosting a table at a conference luncheon. When you’re the host, you get to know everyone and you gain the credibility and respect of being a leader.