Five Steps for Improving your LinkedIn Profile in Just Five Minutes

It has been on your to-do list forever, hasn’t it? Updating your LinkedIn profile can seem daunting. And for good reason. The site is constantly adding more features and capabilities at what feels like a dizzying rate. Don’t get me wrong, more is definitely better. But keeping up with the pack can be time consuming. Don’t fret. Here are five simple LinkedIn changes that will boost your profile in just five minutes.

Create a custom URL

This is the quickest, simplest change that has a huge positive effect on your LinkedIn profile. It is also one you want to jump on right away, especially if you have a common name. LinkedIn automatically generates a long and ugly URL for your profile, but also allows you to customize it. All you have to do is follow these simple steps. Most people use their first and last names. The result is something like linkedin.com/in/danielleyocum. Not only does a custom URL look more professional, but it also helps with sharing. Instead of sending a long URL with all kinds of numbers and letters to your contacts, you can send one that is concise, logical, and memorable. It is also much simpler to print on business cards or resumes.

Create a better headline

If your headline is just your title, I have one word for you: boring. I can find your title right below your headline, so repeating it is useless. Your headline is the perfect opportunity to brand yourself, so make it juicy. Remember your target audience, of course, and tailor your headline to what you think will resonate most with them. Here is a list of brilliant headlines that communicate much more than a job title. Some of my favorites are from a writer who says, “Cut me and I bleed content,” or the editor who states, “Wordsmith with proved ability to translate business objectives into communications strategies and tactics.”

Drop in some multimedia

Ever write a blog post? Have any visual samples of your work online? What about YouTube videos or links to webinars? Add them! Here are some simple step-by-step instructions. Multimedia makes your profile more dynamic and gives you some quick credibility. And don’t be shy. The samples don’t have to be of work you single handedly accomplished. Even if it is work you contributed to, feel free to throw it up there with a description of what you did.

Add something personal

Here is another easy one. Take a look at your summary (Note: If you don’t have a summary, add one). If it is all about work, take another look. Are you mountain biker? Trapeze artist? Scrapbooker? Try to slip in a sentence or two about what you enjoy outside of the office. Don’t overdo it; just a quick mention is enough. This humanizes you and makes you more likeable. Besides, you never know whom it may resonate with.

Join a group

Well, you should join a few groups, but lets start with just one. Groups are a great way to get more involved with LinkedIn and become an active participant rather than a passive observer. They are also a great way to meet and connect with prospective clients. Find and join groups by following these easy steps. Look for groups that apply to your industry or topics of interest. Ready to take it to the next level? Tune into group discussions and posts, and if you find a thread that you can contribute to, chime in. This is a great way to establish expertise and grow your network.

Why Thought Leadership Works

Business development is about building relationships over time. And part of the challenge is maintaining a meaningful dialogue with your prospects.  One tried and true way to keep the conversation going is to offer up something that prospects can get without actually hiring you. An offer gives them a chance to experience your thinking and expertise without the scarier commitment of saying, “yes.”

So make sure your marketing approach includes enough offers to create a dialogue. These offers can take many forms such as white papers, surveys, blogs and seminars. Each offer must include content that adds value and drives a prospect to want to learn more. And remember these offers don’t have to be long or particularly complicated to be effective. Just think of the popularity of any type of “Top 10″list in a magazine or newspaper.