Education: Include the university or college name and major area of study even if you did not graduate. Include exact degree designation if you did. Include continuing professional education programs, seminars, and training. If you are in college or right out of college and looking for an internship or first job, it is beneficial to fill out the Education additional notes or activities sections. In these sections, include specific school related projects you worked on, societies or groups you belonged to, exchange programs you participated in, or major fundraising you worked on. If you are over forty, do not include the years attended or the year graduated—the degree acquired is enough.
Additional Information Section: This is a creative stand-out opportunity section. This is where it is possible to really expand your dimension on paper (or screen actually) from a single flat written dimension to a live multi-dimensional person.
Web sites: If you have a personal blog and a company Web site include these links as two of the three available for input. If you do not have these or do not want to use them, get creative. Put in the Google and Yahoo public profiles you created. Put in a personal or professional Facebook link. (If you are using a personal Facebook link ensure you have the privacy settings on your page to Friends Only.) Do you contribute to a writing site or guest blog for anyone? If so, include one of these. Customize the link name to fit what you have included. The important thing is to include links to make your profile more complete and interactive instead of flat.
Twitter: Again, it’s free, so why not sign up for an account and include this link on your profile? (More detail in Part 4.)
Interests: Include only personal information, not professional here. This is the place to reflect you are a well rounded person—the type of person that fits in well with other people and is interesting. Make yourself come alive as a multi-dimensional person. Show off your creativity and great personality. Include your personal interests but do it in a creative way that makes you come alive as a person.
For example, instead of listing “music” as your interest—expand “music” to be “I am the lead guitarist in one of Naperville’s favorite blues and rock band Blue Dog. We are the house band at the popular Danny’s Bar & Grill Pub on Friday nights. My favorite song to play is Sweet Home Chicago.” Or, instead of “fishing”—expand “fishing” to be “I entered the Tierra Verde Fishing Tournament the last five years placing in the top three each year. I won a trophy and contributed greatly to the community fish fry.” Or, instead of “travel”—expand “travel” to “I have visited fifteen countries in the last ten years with Japan and Spain being my favorites. I now enjoy cooking sushi and paella regularly for my friends and family. My family room wall displays a collection of my photography from my travels.” Include your volunteer work with a brief description and favorite volunteer experience. Include charities you support with a brief reason why you support them. Give a brief story from one of your favorite charity outings or programs. Include a brief description of your pets and their names if you would like.
Groups and Associations: Make the most of your LinkedIn and overall public Internet presence by including URL links which cross promote you and your business and products and services. Again, a stand-out profile is interactive and not flat by including links. Of course you will include industry and trade associations and professional groups you belong. Include their links as well. Include the names of your company’s affiliates & partners and their links. Include links for the charities you support and where you volunteer. Do you provide articles to websites or a guest blog for a company or friend? Include these links. Include certifications and completed industry or trade specific completed course work again here with the link of the school or certifying entity. The most visually effective format is a bulleted list using an asterisk as the bullet. The logos of the LinkedIn Groups you join will appear here also if your account settings allow public display.
Honors and Awards: Use the H&A section even if you have no honors or awards to list if possible. Don’t let an inch of available profile space go to waste. Use this section for additional information about yourself including military service and experience and additional skills.
Personal Information: Your direct email and an office or mobile phone number is best to include. Always include some contact information even if it your company’s main phone number and general email address. Your IM, birthday, and marital status are at your preference. I do not include these.
Contact Settings: There are message options to accept Introductions Only or InMail and Introductions. I’m not sure why anyone would limit contact options as being on LinkedIn is about networking and interaction. If you receive too many messages you can always revise your settings if truly necessary. There are 8 options for Opportunity Preferences. Again, I’m not sure why you would limit any of these options, but that is a personal preference for your reasons. I hope everyone will select all 8 options as this indicates an engaged professional and contributes to a stand-out profile.
I concentrated on guidelines for setting up an individual professional profile on LinkedIn in Part 2 of my four-part series “A Strong Professional Internet Presence is for Everyone in 2010.” In addition, I believe anyone whom owns a business would benefit from including a company profile on LinkedIn also especially the small to medium sized business owner. This is inexpensive exposure and a wonderful networking tool for the business owner as well as the individual. Remember in today’s world, more than likely, at some point in your life you will be looking for a job. For those that are employed and secure in this, remember you are always looking for new business to continue your success. A LinkedIn profile is a great calling card for potential clients and customers to increase familiarity and confidence in you and your company.
Coming in the next two articles:
Part 3 of the series is Getting the Most “Professional Internet Presence” From LinkedIn.
Part 4 of the series is Cultivating Your Overall “Professional Internet Presence.”