Before attending any event, I look up attendees’ and presenters’ LinkedIn profiles to learn more about them. This helps me come up with relevant questions and discussion points. An interesting pattern popped up. When the people are a senior executive, CEO, or in any other C-level position, sometimes their profile appeared vacant.
A typical profile lists their current job, their past positions, and little else. In fact, I had a meeting with the CEO of a company. You can guess what I did before meeting with him. Yup, I looked him up on LinkedIn. He had no photo, listed his three most recent positions without a description, and joined a couple of groups related to his industry. He didn’t have the all-important summary either.
One CEO’s story
I asked Chris (not his real name) about his LinkedIn profile, explaining that I was curious. He said that he had a successful career and didn’t need to work anymore. He started his company simply because he was passionate about his company’s products. He didn’t feel the need to have a complete profile based on his standing.
This attitude isn’t unusual, especially among older executives who still know LinkedIn primarily as a resume site. But LinkedIn has changed substantially over the past five years.
Chris constantly works to sell his product to other companies. Needless to say, he would love any publicity for his company. As do most executives. That right there is a good reason to put effort into your LinkedIn profile.
According to the Public Relations Global Network, there’s an 80 percent chance a journalist will look up an executive’s LinkedIn and other social media profiles prior to an interview. What executive wants to miss out on an interview?
Don’t miss out on publicity and being sought out
The 2014 Social CEO Report from CEO.com has found that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have zero social media presence. However, of those who join one network, 74 percent start with LinkedIn. Some of those may be your competitors.
The report says that taking advantage of social media lets the CEO represent the company’s image, build relationships with the media and employees, and put a face on a company. No matter your successes or number of connections, creating a complete LinkedIn profile does a lot for your company.
Executives may be able to get away with a thinner profile, but not so thin that people pass on their profiles. The key is to demonstrate leadership and to reach your target audience. Jump ahead of your competitors with these tips to build out your LinkedIn profile.
4 ways to create a strong LinkedIn profile
At a minimum, here are four things you must do to create a strong LinkedIn profile.
1. Post a professional photo.
The first thing to do is upload a photo that reflects your personality. If you never wear a business suit, then a photo of you wearing one wouldn’t be ideal. If you can, skip doing anything else on LinkedIn until you check this off. (If you don’t have a good photo, get one as soon as you can. Here are tips for a good LinkedIn profile photo.)
Many ignore a profile without a photo and move on to the next professional.
2. Tailor your LinkedIn profile to your target audience.
The CEO of a startup looking to partner with small businesses will have a different profile than someone who is a CFO at a publicly-traded company looking to impress industry analysts, stakeholders, and the press. Executives looking to generate leads would create a profile with keywords targeting small businesses based on the target’s industry, role, and problem that needs solving.
The way you talk to small business owners is different from IP lawyers, help desk managers, or Wall Street analysts. Furthermore, a B2C conversation is from a B2B one. It’s about speaking the right language, getting the tone right, and talking at the right level.
The CFO at the publicly-traded company would include slides, videos, and links to any interviews, presentations, and articles. Executives looking to attract journalists want to make it easy for them to notice they’re available for interviews and how to contact them. For extra help, refer to 8 tips to write a compelling LinkedIn profile summary.
3. Write a strong summary.
The section with all your current and past positions looks like a resume, as it should. That’s what makes the summary more important. You can highlight the most important things you’d like your audience to know about you in a narrative. This gives you an opportunity to tell your story with an emphasis on what you want them to know about you and what action to take after reading profile.
Seeking interviews? Tell them about known publications and resources that have interviewed you. Also highlight your expertise in the topics you’d like to discuss. If you’ve given keynotes or presentations on the topic, this would be a good place to mention it.
Remember to include media from presentations, if you have them. Again, mention how people can reach you. The more contact options you provide, the better your chances of being contacted. Whatever your goals for your target market in LinkedIn, tell your professional story with those goals in mind.
4. Fill in the details on your most recent positions.
Many executives leave these blank. You don’t have to write a book in describing your most recent positions. Keep it simple. Explain what the company does and how you helped the company achieve its goals. If you want to go the extra mile, check out LinkedIn profile tips for CEOs.
If you’re familiar with the TV show “Shark Tank,” you know the sharks on that show aren’t wanting for anything. They’re successful business owners and celebrities. No one will refuse to take their calls. Yet, they’ve made the effort to have complete LinkedIn profiles:
- Robert Herjavec: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/robertherjavec
- Barbara Corcoran: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/barbara-corcoran/74/718/7a7
- Daymond John: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daymondjohn
Examples of strong CEO LinkedIn profiles
Here are more executive profiles to inspire you as you work on yours.
Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group
Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO of Mightybell
Scott Case, founding CTO of priceline.com
Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin
Clara Shih, CEO of HearSay Social
Daniel Solove, president and CEO, TeachPrivacy
Brad Smith, president and CEO, Intuit
David H. Stevens, President and CEO, Mortgage Bankers Association
Randi Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg Media, founder and CEO
Know an executive with a strong LinkedIn profile? Tell us in the comments.
You don’t have to be a celebrity in your industry to work toward becoming a thought leader. Sure, there’s always someone who knows more than you do. Don’t let it scare you away from thought leadership. You know a lot. In fact, you know things that the more successful thought leaders in your industry don’t.
Why bother with thought leadership? Think about your competitors. How do you separate yourself from them? Thought leadership can do that. It provides exposure to your innovative ideas. As you share your ideas, your prospects get to know you. They’re more likely to remember you if you inspire, tell stories, or compel them to change. B2B companies especially benefit from thought leadership with their longer, more complicated buying cycle.
But what does it mean to be a thought leader? Search the web and you’ll get different answers. Here’s an insightful one from Daniel W. Rasmus:
“Thought leadership should also be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.”
A thought leader is a person or business who shares forward-thinking viewpoints, takes a stand, and encounters dissenters. You can accomplish this anywhere: conferences, social networks, blogs, forums, and so on. Be sure to include LinkedIn in your thought leadership strategy. You can’t get much better than a social network for professionals.
This article will tell you how to take advantage of the best opportunities to provide thought leadership on LinkedIn.
The key to sharing your expertise is to be timely, relevant and progressive. Tell stories using real-life examples and you’ll have it made. Here are seven ways to achieve thought leadership on LinkedIn.
1. Publish blog posts: Your company’s website may have a blog. Still, you’ll want to write blog posts on LinkedIn as it’ll show up high on search engine results. The fact the content appears on LinkedIn gives it a big boost. A valuable post would be based on interviews with industry leaders, connectors, and influencers. They’ll most likely publicize the post and it could go viral.
2. Post status updates: Share industry news, link to deep diver articles and guides, provide tips, and ask questions.
3. Participate in Groups: Answer questions without any sales spiel. This enhances your credibility to help you build relationships on LinkedIn. You can also pose questions that get people thinking and start interesting conversations. The questions you ask can make as big an impression, if not more, as your answers.
4. Respond to others: Respond to status updates, Group posts, and blog posts. People appreciate being heard and acknowledged.
5. Share other people’s posts: The simple act of sharing earns Brownie points with the person who originally posted the update and puts you in top of mind with them and those who catch your share.
6. Add media to your profile: You can add documents, photos, links to external resources, videos and presentations. If you give a speech or presentation at a professional event, get it recorded and have someone take photos. Documents can be white papers, case studies, articles and other useful tidbits. Do podcasts or webinars? Include those too. Mentioned in an online article, link to it.
7. Send messages: When you come across something of interest to a prospect, share that in a private message. The prospect will appreciate the thoughtfulness and you gain credibility, which increases chances of being remembered when the prospect needs your company.
Now that you know where to post your thought leadership, go give away your ideas. Don’t worry about sharing your secrets. Many companies won’t have the energy and resources execute them. Instead, they’ll go to someone whose ideas mesh with their company’s goals and can do the job well.
What other ways can you use LinkedIn for thought leadership?
Worldwide, the number of quality hires coming from social networks has increased by 73% over the past four years. Over that same time period, the number of qualified hires coming from staffing agencies has gone down 16%. Social professional networks are now the number one source for quality hires in the United States.
But simply knowing where to look is not enough.
Recruiting budgets and competition for talent in the workforce are both expected to increase this year. In the technology industry, where a majority of companies believe that there is a talent shortage, competition can be even more pronounced.
With these facts in mind, it’s important that business owners and hiring managers in technology understand how to use LinkedIn to quickly find the people who are well qualified for their open positions. Here are a few tips on using LinkedIn to recruit top candidates in the technology field.
Focus on value and brevity
The hard truth in technology recruiting is that a qualified candidate with a strong track record in the industry doesn’t care much about how awesome and innovative your company is. No one wants to read a longwinded mission statement in an initial inquiry from a prospective employer, especially when they likely have several companies interested in them.
When you contact potential candidates, you should briefly introduce yourself and your company and then move right into describing the position and its benefits. Don’t waste time with pleasantries or by talking up your company excessively: it shows a lack of respect for the time of your potential hires and will give them a negative first impression of you.
Research your candidates
One of the great benefits of LinkedIn is that it allows technology CEOs and recruiters to add a personal touch to their recruiting efforts. It is easy to check out a candidate’s profile and identify something that connects them to the company, such as a shared school or a specific certification. You could also comment on a project they have worked on or client they have had in the past.
Even if someone isn’t interested in your position, this makes your message stand out. They will remember your name and will keep you in mind if something about their situation changes or if they think of someone who might be a good fit for the role.
Consider your talent branding
LinkedIn defines a company’s talent brand as the social version of what potential hires think of them as an employer. Proper talent branding is crucial for successful LinkedIn recruiting: research shows that organizations with strong, recognizable talent branding have twice the InMail response rate of companies with no previous engagement with job candidates.
When planning techniques for talent branding, heed the words of marketing influencer and evangelist Guy Kawasaki: don’t put lipstick on a pig by trying to make your company seem like something it is not. Instead, your talent brand should be an authentic look inside your company culture. You can achieve this by adding personalized elements to your company website and LinkedIn profile, such as employee testimonials or videos and pictures from company events.
In a competitive field like technology where talent is in high demand, it can be tough for smaller employers to stand out. These strategies will help you use LinkedIn to level the playing field and improve your chances of landing the best talent available in your geographic area.
But LinkedIn won’t be nearly as effective for any of these things if no one sees your profile.
If you want hiring managers, prospects, and others in your industry to find you on LinkedIn, you need to spend some time optimizing your profile and its keywords.
Here are four ways that you can optimize your LinkedIn profile’s keywords to get found through search more frequently.
Reach 100% profile strength, but don’t stop there
LinkedIn measures the strength of your profile by the information that you include on it. Once you meet the requirements for 100% completion, your profile strength meter will be filled up and won’t go any higher. Reaching this status is critical: LinkedIn says that users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities.
However, reaching 100% doesn’t mean that you should stop updating your profile. As you gain experience and broaden your skills, make sure that you mention them and their related keywords by updating your profile accordingly. LinkedIn allows you to write a summary of yourself as a professional and describe projects you have worked on. These areas are perfect for including keywords that are relevant to the searches you want to be found in.
Write your headline carefully
After your name, your profile headline is the second most important search criteria that LinkedIn uses to rank profiles in search results. This makes your headline a critical place to use keywords to gain visibility.
The headline is where you’ll want to think about the most common job title for your position. It’s nice to have a creative title that distinguishes you from the crowd, but if your headline indicates that you are a “Grand Master of IT Projects,” you won’t get as many hits as you would if your headline was simply, “IT Project Manager.”
Remember to also include your skills in your headline. For example, if you are a project manager who specializes in cloud migration projects, include keywords related to work you’ve done in that area.
Consider industry keywords
When optimizing your LinkedIn profile for keywords, don’t limit yourself to keywords that relate directly to the skills and experience that you have. Instead, think about keywords that might relate to your industry as a whole: clients, vendors, and competitors.
For example, if you are a technician who works for a company with clients in healthcare, consider ways that you can include keywords relating to healthcare in your profile.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to finding the hot keywords in your field, Google’s Keyword Planner tool is a good place to start. You can search for keyword volume based on your industry and your geographic location. The Keyword Planner can also provide suggestions for keywords based on your product or service. Because Google crawls data from LinkedIn to use in search results, there’s a good chance that if a keyword gets a lot of traffic on Google, it also gets a lot of traffic on LinkedIn.
With these steps, you can take advantage of the power of keyword optimization to improve the frequency with which you get found by prospects, employers, and other people you want to connect with on LinkedIn.
What are some other ways to boost your keyword optimization on LinkedIn?
For some business owners and managers in technology, recruiting conjures up images of sifting through endless piles of applications, uncomfortable interviews, and lost productivity from open positions.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Companies that understand how to use modern techniques for recruiting will find that there is a much easier way to connect with talented IT professionals interested in career advancement.
One of those methods is LinkedIn. The rise of social media means that companies can instantly connect with candidates with the right skills and experience. According to LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report, in the past four years the amount of quality hires from social professional networks has increased 73%.
At ProResource, we make it easy for companies to use LinkedIn to build relationships with potential new hires.
How do we do it? Our process involves four key steps:
1. Understand our clients’ needs
We take time to gain a deep understanding of the kind of candidate that our clients are looking for. From certifications to employment history, we analyze every part of a person’s profile to see if they would be a good fit.
2. Perform a search based on skills and area
With a good sense of what our clients are looking for, we use our years of experience searching LinkedIn to perform targeted keyword searches that identify the right people in the client’s geographic area.
3. Send a connect request directly from the CEO’s account
After identifying fitting prospects, ProResource sends carefully crafted introductions through LinkedIn directly from the account of your CEO or hiring manager. These inquiries are sent as connect requests. They clearly state the sender’s interest in having the candidate apply for an open position with the company.
4. Follow up with specific job information
Once the candidate has accepted the connect request, we follow up with a message that offers information about the company and a link to a full description of the available role. This message also includes a referral request, in case the person isn’t interested but knows someone who might be.
Why does it work?
ProResource has found tremendous success matching qualified candidates to open positions at small technology companies using this approach, for several reasons:
- Candidates and employers can build a more personal relationship. Prospective hires are contacted directly by the interested company, which makes them more inclined to respond to the request. Even if they aren’t interested in a current opening, these connections become a part of your network, which makes it easy to reach out to them for future opportunities.
- The best hires are often those who aren’t actively looking for a job. In fact, research shows that 85% of employees in the workforce are either open to talking to a recruiter, looking for a job, or reaching out to their personal network for opportunities. By engaging these passive candidates on LinkedIn, employers broaden their access to the talent pool.
- New hires get to learn more about prospective employers. To perform at the highest possible level, new hires must feel comfortable with their employer. ProResource’s approach to recruiting allows this to happen much earlier in the hiring process, since candidates who are contacted will almost instantly begin familiarizing themselves with your company.
Unlike recruiting agencies, we don’t take a percentage of the new hire’s salary. Our LinkedIn recruiting services are billed at a flat rate of $1700 per month. In our experience, one month of reaching out to qualified candidates is all that is required for small technology companies to fill their vacant positions.