In my LinkedIn workshops I ask how many attendees are on LinkedIn. Some reluctantly raise their hand, clarifying they're on LinkedIn but haven't touched it in years. I tell them we'll do something about that, because otherwise it's a waste of time.
Alison Doyle of About.com wrote an honest article entitled “Don’t Waste Your Time On LinkedIn.” This is a truthful article that seem out of character for her.
“If you're not going to do it right, there is no point wasting your time (and everyone else's) on LinkedIn,” Alison writes. “LinkedIn is ‘the site for professional networking.’”
Amen. Furthermore, she explains that when she is invited to connect with people on LinkedIn and goes to their profile to glean information on them, only to find a “Private Profile,” she’s unlikely to connect with them.
I understand her sentiment. What motivation would I have for connecting with someone who is secretive? Or someone who has a profile that gives you very little information in terms of their skills, accomplishments, and related experience? The answer to both is a resounding none.
The LinkedIn profile is where it all begins. A profile that is devoid of many important components is the first sign of a half-ass effort. Below are some of the components I see lacking in many profiles.
No photo. This will send a message to recruiters, employers, and potential networkers that you have something to hide—namely age. Whether we like it or not, LinkedIn wants us to be visible. While business people may feel they have no reason to fear age discrimination, jobseekers often feel they do. Jobseekers simply have to bite the bullet and have faith that their age will not hurt their job search.
An undeveloped title is the quickest way to turn someone away from your profile. Don’t be vague and announce yourself as a “Public Relations Professional,” when you’re a “Strategic, bilingual HR leader/business partner who achieves strong results through innovative solutions.” Not only should you give people an accurate sense of who you are and what you do, you'll want to provide as many keywords as possible to be found by recruiters and employers.
The Summary section is often neglected by people who simply copy and paste their four-line résumé Summary statement. Folks, we have 2,000 characters with which to work. Let’s use them to craft a creative, descriptive Summary that states our value proposition and showcases our attention-grabbing skills and experience. Have fun and use the first person narrative, or even third person narrative if you're accomplished.
The History section is also an area where visitors like to learn more about your identity. Simply listing your job title, company name, and dates of employment says, “I’m too lazy to give this any effort.” This laziness will get you nowhere. List three, four, or five major accomplishments at your companies.
The last section I’ll address are recommendations, which do a tremendous job of telling visitors who you are through the eyes of your former supervisors, colleagues, vendors, partners, etc. Ask for and write at least five or six recommendations. This is especially important for jobseekers who need to deliver a quick punch.
Like Alison, I wonder why people who don't want to put the effort into their profile are even on LinkedIn. A half-ass profile will impress no one, particularly recruiters and employers who are looking for talent. If you're going to be on LinkedIn give the people who'll view your profile the respect they deserve--don't waste their time, even if it's 10 seconds.