How to improve your LinkedIn profile: 10 steps you should take today

LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media networks and is one of the best social media channels for your professional life. Professionals sign up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second. I have had the opportunity to LinkedIn to hundreds of employees over my career and students at Duke University with their LinkedIn profile and advise them on the steps they should take to improve their LinkedIn profile.

10 steps to take to successfully improve your LinkedIn profile

There are 10 things every working professional should do to optimize their LinkedIn profile. These tips can help you find your next job, grow your personal brand, and become a thought leader.

1. Update your profile information

Make sure you add all of your basic info such as your full name, title at your company, location, correct industry, and company (linked to your company’s page).

There are some essential points to consider when updating your personal information:

  • Add a custom background. The image should not be distracting and should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels in size.
  • Include a professional photo. Make sure you take the time to get a real professional picture taken by a photographer. Taking it on a white background is the recommended way but it is up to you.
  • Your name should ONLY contain your name. Please avoid adding any additional titles, acronyms or credentials. Please keep your name clean and concise.

2. Customize your public profile URL

When customizing your LinkedIn profile URL, aim to just have your full name without anything else. If you have a more common name (sorry, John Smith) then you might have to resort to a slight modification. If you can’t add your full name consider adding your middle initial.

3. Add important websites

Add important websites (LinkedIn, unfortunately, limits you to three). Make sure you check off “other,” then add the Website title and URL so people quickly understand the website title. It is better to use “Other” than “Company Website” or any other pick list items LinkedIn provides.

4. Add or tweak your LinkedIn summary section

Ensure your LinkedIn profile Summary section captures your overall career and specifically your current role at your company and how you help others and your company’s clients. This summary section is basically your elevator pitch in written form. Remember, LinkedIn is not your resume so make sure you are always writing in first person. Think of your summary section as your career summary that communicates your value proposition to others.

5. Make sure you have company logos for each of your positions in your LinkedIn Experience section

Go through your Experience section and make sure you have logos for each of your old positions. Please go to “change company” and find the correct company to ensure the company logo is set up. If your company was acquired by another company, find the acquired company, link it to that and then in Edit Display Name, change to XXX (acquired by XXX). When you have company logos, it makes your profile stand out.

6. Add articles, blog posts, videos, or work samples to your LinkedIn profile

Under your Summary section and past positions in Experience, there is the capability to “add a link” to your profile. Go to your Summary and add articles or blog posts you have written. Or you may want to add videos or samples of your career work. This section gives you an opportunity to link to other websites and provide a portfolio of your work.

7. Update your LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements page

Take a proactive approach to editing your endorsements by adding skills you want to be known for with your network. For example, you may want to add “Team Leadership” to your skills. You can’t change the order of these endorsements because LinkedIn has them ranked by number of endorsements for particular skills and orders them accordingly.

8. Follow companies to keep up-to-date with your ecosystem

At the top of LinkedIn in the black header, go to the white search bar and find some companies you want to follow. There are four main categories of companies that you should follow: 1) analysts; 2) partners; 3) competitors; and 4) clients. Following these types of companies will keep your LinkedIn stream with interesting content and you’ll stay up to date with companies that are essential to your professional life.

9. Connect with “People You May Know” to grow your network

Make sure you have at least 501 people but only connect with people you know. LinkedIn will show how many connections you have until you hit 500. Once you reach over 500 connections, LinkedIn will continue to count. It says “500+” connections on your profile. Remember: People like to connect with “connected” people.

10. Update your LinkedIn status at least once a week

One of the pillars to social media success is how many people view your profile and share content consistently. Be sure to update your LinkedIn status daily. Share at least one piece of content a week. Share with your network something that provides value and is interesting to you and others. You may want to put a reminder on your calendar to share an article. You should also think about publishing through LinkedIn.

Bringing it all together

There are 10 things you should do to improve your LinkedIn profile today. These simple yet powerful tips can help you grow your career and personal brand. When you update your LinkedIn profile and share content, you can position yourself to become a thought leader and stay top of mind with your network. What steps would you add to this list to improve your LinkedIn profile?