Your LinkedIn profile is your online billboard. Make sure it's doing its job for you!
Here are ten common LinkedIn mistakes that hurt your credibility and make it harder for people who need your expertise to connect with you.
An unfortunate LinkedIn profile photo turns off visitors to your page immediately.
You don't need to get a professional head shot for LinkedIn, but you do need a head-and-shoulders photo that shows your face clearly. Don't re-purpose a group shot that includes somebody else's phantom hand on your shoulder, for instance.
Your LinkedIn headline (right under your name) is a critical piece of your profile -- and your personal brand. You don't have to use your current job title as your LinkedIn headline. You can choose a LinkedIn headline that brands you more powerfully.
Shari is an administrator at a hospital. Her job title is Operations Coordinator I, but Shari is not going to use her job title as her LinkedIn headline. She chooses the headline "Health Care Administration, Budgeting and Procurement" instead. Now that recruiters know what Shari is capable of they'll be more likely to contact her.
The Summary at the top of your LinkedIn profile is valuable real estate. Don't waste that real estate by leaving it blank!
Use your Summary to tell your story, like this:
I'm a Sales Support person who loves to create and maintain databases, handle customer emergencies and give my Sales team whatever support they need to hit their numbers and keep moving ahead. I love creating customer newsletters, building custom sales reports and using (and teaching) Salesforce.
If you had a job opening for a Sales Support person, wouldn't you want to interview this LinkedIn user? I would!
Cursory Career History
Don't make the mistake of thinking that a simple list of your past employers and job titles gives visitors to your LinkedIn profile all the information they need.
People want to know what you came, saw and conquered in each of your past jobs -- so tell them! Here's an example:
2014 - present
Acme is a $10M family-owner supplier of stick dynamite to the coyote market. I joined Acme out of college to support our HR VP by scheduling interviews, handling employee database updates, organizing employee events and updating our employee handbook.
Now, I also lead new employee orientation, run our annual Open Enrollment process and lead weekly lunch meetings with our 18 department supervisors.
This young person is on the ball -- just like you! Make sure your career history on LinkedIn shows the world how you rock and rule.
You need LinkedIn recommendations and luckily there's an easy way to get them.
To get LinkedIn recommendations, start leaving recommendations for people you know. A good LinkedIn recommendation is specific (not "Jane is a great coworker."). Here's an example:
I worked with Jane on the X-15 project at Acme Explosives, where the product spec shifted late in the game because of customer requirements. Jane and I crammed three months of work into three weeks and got the product launched on time. Now the X-15 is Acme's best selling product. I would work with Jane again in a heartbeat -- she's incredibly dedicated, warm, wise and funny.
List your Skills in your LinkedIn profile -- there's a whole section just for that purpose -- and your first-degree connections will click away to let the world know you can do the stuff you claim you can.
Don't be limited by stuffy, traditional business convention when you list your Skills. Here are some of the Skills listed in my LinkedIn profile:
Musical Theatre, Singing, Making Business Fun, Punditry, Reinventing HR, Banter, Jokery, Doodling
"Jokery" isn't even a word. Oh well! Everybody knows what it means, anyway.
You get to decide how to brand yourself, and your Skills are an important aspect of your brand. What do you want visitors to your profile to know that you do well? That's where your Skills listing will come in handy!
You are an active person with many interests and a lot going on in your life and career. Tell us about that stuff, too! Your activities on LinkedIn tell us what you read, follow and care about. Don't leave that information out of your profile.
Be careful not to drag down your LinkedIn profile with business jargon like "Results-oriented professional," "Motivated self-starter" or "Skilled at managing cross-functional teams." Everybody is sick and tired of this say-nothing zombie language. Write the way you speak! Your writing will be more interesting and more powerful when you do.
Tasks and Duties Instead of Accomplishments
Don't tell us what you were assigned to do every day at your past jobs. Tell us what you left in your wake, instead! Tell us your proudest accomplishment at every job. That's what inquiring minds want to know!
No Clarity or Direction
Your LinkedIn profile will be strongest when you know what you want next in your career. It's worth taking some time to reflect on your path so far and to decide what you want to do next. Things will keep changing -- that's how the world works. Still, your clarity about your own talents and your mission will come through loud and clear in your LinkedIn profile.
People are drawn to other people who share their interests and passions. Let your passion shine through in your LinkedIn profile. We are people, not machines -- thank goodness!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.