Time to Renovate Your LinkedIn Profile

Whenever I’m chatting to a business person about LinkedIn, if they’re not on it, they are very aware that they need to be. The social media website provides a valuable way for professionals to reach out to new people, stay in touch with industry contacts, and to build their career. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is the 10th most visited website in Canada, and ranks 14th globally (Alexa Web Information Co.).

Many professionals know that they should be making better use of LinkedIn… yet they still don’t have a personal profile that stands out.

Here are some top tips for giving your LinkedIn profile a shot in the arm:  

1. First: temporarily turn off your activity broadcast. This allows you to quietly make several profile changes in one sitting without having LinkedIn announce it to your contacts each time.

How to: in the upper right-hand corner of your profile, move your mouse over the small icon of your picture; choose “Privacy & Settings”; under “Profile” you should be able to see “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts”. After you’re finished updating, turn the activity feed back on.

2. A complete profile will show up better in search results. Add in information on your past positions, education and any organizations to which you belong. As your complete your profile, LinkedIn will suggest additional sections. Besides, nothing says “newbie” like an unfinished profile.

3. Make good use of the summary section. This is your chance to tell your LinkedIn audience about what makes you one-of-a-kind and what you’re passionate about. Make it unique! Use first-person “I” statements, and keep it conversational. Use bullet points to break up long paragraphs of text.

4. Claim your name. Your LinkedIn profile web address is made up of random alphanumeric characters, but you can edit it so it reads with your name, such as: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenmoyes. Available on a first come, first served basis.

How to: Move your cursor over “Profile” at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and select “Edit Profile”; click “Edit” next to the URL under your profile photo; click “Customize your public profile URL”; type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box; click “Set Custom URL”.

5. Use a professional looking photo. Obvious advice, but really crucial – first impressions matter. Avoid group shots or casual party pics. The worst is not having any photo: to many, this implies you don’t care about your professional image.

Oh, and one other thing: make sure you get someone to proofread your entire profile – they can catch errors that you may be missing and it’s always good to get a second opinion.

If you’d like a helping hand as you improve your LinkedIn profile, feel free to contact me. I’ve written personalized LinkedIn summary sections for a wide range of professionals.


The power of silence in communication

Silence – even just a pause that allows for stillness – sounds so inviting. Yet, silence can make a lot of people uncomfortable. Maybe it’s our North American culture that makes us want to rush in and fill any vacuum created when talking stops. Maybe we’ve become used to a hurried speed of life, with instant messaging, texting, and constantly updated 24-hour news in the background.

Silence seems like the opposite of communication. But used strategically, silence can set the stage for extraordinarily effective communication.

Silence opens up space in a conversation. Susan Scott in her seminal work Fierce Conversations advises: “Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.” Indeed, Scott talks about letting silence do the heavy lifting in a conversation.

Silence can invite your conversation partner to keep speaking, keep telling their story. This can make the other person know that they are really being listened to, and encourage them to share more openly.

Silence can allow you to consider the impact of what you’re about to say. It can prepare the way for words that are more intentional, more insightful, with more substance.

Bernard Ferrari repurposes the well-known 80/20 rule when he aims for listening 80 percent of the time and talking the other 20 percent when engaged in conversation. In his book Power Listening, Ferrari suggests walking a fine line between keeping quiet and participating in such a way as to advance the conversation.

So, experiment with slowing down and making use of silence – it may get you to insights and mutual understanding a whole lot quicker.


We’re all a work in progress

Software companies often keep a product in a beta test phase long after it’s been introduced. This is to emphasize that their offering is not complete and that the company is continuing to make improvements.

You can also keep your career in “permanent beta” – a key idea in The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn. Hoffman writes that with this “permanent beta” approach, “each day presents an opportunity to learn more, do more be more, grow more in our lives and careers. Keeping your career in permanent beta forces you to acknowledge that you have bugs, that there’s new development to do on yourself, that you will need to adapt and evolve.” (p. 22)

As a business coach, I will sometimes discuss with my clients how to maintain the mindset of a learner, to stay curious about opportunities. Keeping one’s career in permanent beta is an approach that fits well with a willingness to be intentional about learning, and to make mid-course corrections. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Over the past year, what have I learned that improves my performance?
  • What types of learning can I access in the next year to boost my career?
  • What are my learning goals for the coming year?

Nowadays our world of work is marked by a white-water pace of change. A lifelong commitment to learning and personal growth is a good starting point to making periodic investments in yourself and your career, investments that will set you up for continued success.