With everyone spending so much time on their phone, there’s no shortage of ways to connect with people. But what kind of people are you trying to connect with? If you’re on social media for the social aspect, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (to name a few) are great tools to keep up with family and reconnect with old friends. But if you’re looking to develop your personal brand and increase your professional network, then LinkedIn is still the king.
But even though Linkedin has been a staple in the professional world for years, so many people still have poor and unprofessional photos or profiles that just don’t stand out.
So what do you need to do to look professional and polished? Here are some simple and important elements of a strong Linkedin profile:
A quality photo.
Most importantly, you need a quality photo. The best option is to have professional headshots. These can be expensive but can be used in lots of ways, including personal websites and business cards. While these need to be well-lit and professionally done, they don’t have to be a stuffy, traditional headshot. Many photographers now offer “branding sessions.” These photos capture your personality and line-of-work and are much less formal. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you might have a photo of you working at a laptop. If you’re an artist, you could add a few paintbrushes.
However, if you’re not ready to shell out for these, find a friend who can take a well-lit photo. Many people make the mistake of using a selfie or a low-quality photo. These will stand out like a sore thumb and if your photo looks slobby and lazy, you might be giving others the idea that this is how you work, too.
Your photo should be just the shoulders and head, not a full-body shot. Make sure you’re wearing something professional, as well. The best options are solid, neutral colors. You want your experience to stand out, not your clothing. And of course, make sure you smile! You want to appear warm and friendly.
Add a background image.
For the most polished and vibrant photo, add a unique background photo. This image is displayed behind your profile photo and is a great way to grab people’s attention and help further brand your work. Choose an image that ties into your work or personal brand. If you’re a writer, maybe add a photo of a typewriter. If you work in health and wellness, perhaps a quote on mindfulness?
Just make sure your image here is not too cluttered or busy. You want the background to emphasize your headshot, not give the viewer a headache. Make sure the photo you choose isn’t grainy or blurry and is cropped correctly, as well.
Add written details.
Don’t just stop at a photo, though. Make sure you’re adding quality written information. You can be creative here, too. Don’t just add your job title as your headline. Use the headline field to say a bit more about how you see your role, why you do what you do, and what makes you tick.
Then, make sure to tell a little about yourself in your profile. Some individuals choose to write a narrative about how they got into the biz or a little about them personally. Think of this as a fun way to incorporate information from your cover letter.
Build your network.
Once you’re done crafting your profile, make sure to connect with others. Look for former classmates and colleagues. You can search by industry, workplace or school. Just make sure to add a little note when you send a friend request. Building good connections will ensure your professional network is strong.