Before You Prospect, Profile (Yourself)!
My favorite moment of each LinkedIn training session I conduct is when I use the Advanced People Search feature and participants are presented with a list of potential prospects within their geographic region and network. The most common response? “I didn’t know you could do that!” That’s often followed by “That’s so helpful!” or “Wow, that’s awesome!”
They’re right. It is an awesome feature!
However, before you jump into reviewing others’ profiles and developing a prospect list, you spend a little time on your own profile first and here’s how:
- Ask – Allow someone you trust to view your profile and share their first impressions. What message does your profile send? Sales guy? Trusted advisor? Brown cow insurance agent? Purple cow risk manager?
- Consider – What message you want to send? Do you want to highlight your areas of specialty? Your alma mater? Any designations you’ve earned? Community involvement?
- Review – Look over your current connections to identify who’s using LinkedIn well and who isn’t. What can you learn from the profiles you view?
Before you make any changes, modify your settings to control who sees your activity feed as well as what activities are publicly broadcast. That way connections won’t be aware of all the updates you’re making.
Start with easy fixes:
- Customize your public profile URL to avoid the awkward default string of letters and numbers.
- Update your photo. Make sure you have a recent, professional-looking headshot.
- Include your contact information. Make it easy for connections to contact you by phone or email.
Once you’ve thought about how you want to portray your experience and expertise, tweak the rest of your profile. This takes time and energy but pays high dividends.
- Write a compelling headline. It doesn’t have to be your official job title. Consider “Outsourced Risk Manager” or “Risk Consultant” instead of “Vice President.” Write something interesting that makes the reader want to know more.
- Put energy into your summary. This is your chance to articulate your value proposition. What differentiates you from the rest of the crowd?
- Update your Skills & Expertise. Then give and receive Endorsements to further add credibility to your profile.
- Round out your profile by including your Education (facilitating networking with others from your alma mater, Honors & Awards, (if you’ve got them, flaunt them) and Organizations (show which causes and hobbies mean the most to you).
In addition to being a powerful networking tool, LinkedIn provides you with an amazing opportunity to manage your own personal brand. Don’t squander it! Instead, invest the time and energy into profiling yourself. A small investment of time will ensure that when you do reach out to new prospects, when they look for you on LinkedIn they like what – and who – they see.
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