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What if LinkedIn is the New Business Card?

LinkedIn touts itself as the world’s largest professional network with close to 530 million users in 200 countries. It is also referred to as a ‘resume-on-steroids’ because it’s available for viewing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. As the platform continues to evolve, it is probably time to consider it as an online business card.

Over the past  year, I made a conscious decision to reduce my use of business cards, preferring instead to carry post cards. These are not the most convenient to carry around, but they have more space than a business card to add information about who I am and what I do. During a recent conference at which I spoke, I observed attendees interacting with speakers, and when they asked for a business card, they were told to “Connect with me on LinkedIn”. Suddenly it dawned on me that a LinkedIn profile could be considered a business card.

At the end of one session, I went over to Melody Adhami, CEO of Plastic Mobile, and mentioned that I thought I was the only speaker without business cards, although I had pot cards. She did not say she had abandoned the use of business cards, but said LinkedIn was more convenient for two reasons: 1) everything that anyone needed to know about her was on her profile, and 2) she uses LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. Anyone who engages with her on the platform will get her attention, and more often than not she will peruse their profile, and decide whether or not to connect.

Why am I suggesting that LinkedIn is the new business card? Unlike a real business card that is restricted by size and space, or a resume that is limited by number of pages, LinkedIn offers a good deal more. Users are allowed to include as much information as possible about their background, skills, and accomplishments. They can upload media (videos, images, presentations, etc.). It could probably be the most significant online business card that one will have to tell one’s story, build a professional network, and find opportunities. Assuming that’s the case, many users are doing themselves a disservice when they do not maximize its benefits.

 

Below are 10 easy tips to help you create an almost perfect LinkedIn business card:

  1. Use a professional head shot. Some people are shy and do not want to use a photograph in their profile, but if you are serious about your job search, or about connecting with people, a professional photograph is a must. LinkedIn’s Michael Shamshoian said, “…one’s LinkedIn Profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if a photo is included.”
  2. Headline. The entire LinkedIn profile is important, but the headline and summary sections are considered ‘prime real estate’ spaces, and should be maximized. Think of your headline as an online 30-second elevator pitch that quickly describes who you are and what you do in 120 characters. For those who believe that job titles and degrees must be included in the headline, there are no rules to that effect.
  3.  Create your own LinkedIn URL. Did you notice when you first created your account LinkedIn assigned you a default URL with numbers and letters that don’t seem to make sense? They don’t, neither do they add any value to your brand. Create a simple URL with your name. If your name is already taken, use one from the options LinkedIn offers. Make sure it’s a name that will be found when people search for you.
  4. Write a captivating summary that will entice readers to want to connect with you. Use every last one of the 2000 characters allowed in this space to tell your story and describe your most noteworthy accomplishments. The Summary section is where most people spend their time.
  5. Weave keywords throughout your Profile. Research the keywords that will show up when people search for you on LinkedIn, then weave them throughout your profile. Hint: Most keywords can be found in the job posting.
  6. Complete your Profile 100%. Recruiters have said that the more incomplete a profile is the more likely they are to ignore the profile. Don’t be bypassed by recruiters and hiring managers because you have a skeleton of a profile.
  7. Personalize your Invitations. People are less likely to accept your invitation when you use the generic “I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Help them answer the question, “Why should I connect with you?” Were they in the news? Are you a member of the same Alumni?
  8. Build the relationship first. Asking for favours, or trying to sell to someone you just connected with, kills the relationship before it starts. Some people have even used their LinkedIn Invitation as a way to sell – long before establishing the relationship. Don’t fall into that trap. Begin building the relationship slowly. Comment on, or Like their posts, or share articles and resources that could be of interest to them.
  9. Join LinkedIn Groups. Joining and contributing to industry or interest groups is one way of showcasing your expertise and building your brand. As people see the value you are adding to these online conversations, they will be more likely to connect with you.
  10. Request Recommendations. Recommendations add credibility to your profile, so ask people who know you, and who can attest to your skills and attributes, to write one for you. This takes time and thought, so make it easy for them to comply by drafting one yourself, highlighting what you would like to focus on. Pay it forward, and write a recommendation for them.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is not your personal web page. Save your profile as a PDF, and download your connections from time to time. You do not want to lose your contacts’ information, neither do you want to be left without a back up of your Profile.

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