LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social platform and is a very important one for accountants. Think of it like permanently having a place where you can advertise the best of “you” so that anyone with an opportunity could find you. It’s a great way to extend your professional network, get more work opportunities and demonstrate your knowledge.
Here we’re going to show you how to optimize your personal LinkedIn profile. On average, optimized profiles gain five times more profile views.
So let’s get started:
1. Your Picture
Your picture should be just of that – you! Chose a simple headshot where you are looking straight ahead. It doesn’t have to be boring, but you do need to look professional and pleasant. People will always remember faces more than names, so ensure the picture is of your face and not some other part of you.
2. Your Headline
You have 120 characters at the top of your profile to describe what you do. You can just put your official job title or you could choose descriptive and compelling keywords to highlight your differentiation in the profession. Remember, LinkedIn is a search engine.
3. Your Summary
In LinkedIn’s summary section you can include high resolution photos, a slideshare presentation you’ve given, or a video about your practice. It’s well worth putting in the effort to write a unique and captivating summary section. Think of it as your virtual “elevator pitch.”
There are several ways to write a good summary. It could be a copy/paste of your CV summary section, could be a short biography, you could list key differentiating factors, or you could even get creative with it. A great one we’ve seen is pairing an interesting story with a section called “what you won’t find on my resume”, adding real personalisation to the section.
In any event, at the end of this section, the reader must have a strong idea of who you are and how you help people. End with a call to action for example, “Please reach out to discuss opportunities in X, Y, and Z.”
4. Your Experience
This is the body of your profile, where you really showcase your experience, expertise, and skills – much like on your CV. You include your current position and at least two other positions, however make sure they’re relevant. No one needs to know about your short stint at University you did as a supermarket attendant, if it doesn’t add to your current role and direction.
There are two basic ways to handle this section:
- Adapt it from your CV; you can copy/paste the relevant job descriptions and accomplishments for each position.
- If you are uncomfortable listing too much information under specific employers, you can simply add the name of employer, your position, dates, and include in the summary a more general description of responsibilities and achievements there
5. Keywords and SEO
Include keywords everywhere, especially in the summary and experience sections, for search engine optimization purposes. These are the terms that will help you show up in their search results within LinkedIn.
Think about what words and phrases people in your target market use to search for someone with your background, experience, and service offering. If you’re looking for recruitment opportunities a great trick is to go to the careers page of some potential employers you are interested in and pick common keywords around that job or industry to use.
This is one area that can be easily forgotten about, yet it is great for credibility especially if you’re looking to be recruited, join committees or apply for speaking or presentation spots at events.
Recommendations are something you have to be proactive about asking for and then can be from anyone that you have as a LinkedIn connection. It’s best to have a strategy when asking for recommendations. Think of particular skills or illustrations of your work you want to highlight and then think through people you can ask that can vouch for them. There’s no harm in helping who you’re approaching by giving them a topic you’d like to receive a recommendation on.
Always thank your recommenders and offer to recommend them too. In fact, go one step further and send along a draft of a potential recommendation – everyone likes a two way street!
7. Groups and Associations
There are over two million groups on LinkedIn and growing. They are a great way to build relationships with people who are doing similar work or have similar interests as you, especially those that are not in your immediate network already.
Join as many relevant groups as you can and contribute to the conversation. To get started, join the alumni groups for where you went to University and any industry association groups pertinent to your line of work. Don’t let it be a time consuming task, put aside a little bit of time each week to scan the discussions and lend your expertise to benefit the conversation where applicable, to show your interest and your value.
8. Ensure you have a “Fully Completed Profile”
LinkedIn says your profile will appear forty more times more in search results if it is “complete.” Here is LinkedIn’s definition of a 100% Complete Profile:
- Your industry and location
- An up-to-date current position (with a description)
- Two past positions
- Your education
- Your skills (minimum of 3)
- A profile photo
- At least 50 connections
9. You’re Set
Your profile is now ready. Keep adding content and optimising it for best results. If you haven’t started connecting with people already, start with your colleagues and clients. You will find suggestions from LinkedIn based on your profile and who your connections are connected to as well. Make it a habit to send a connection request to new contacts you meet, whether it be directly through work or at events. You can even incorporate your LinkedIn URL onto your business card if you like and a direct link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature. Once you’ve got a good base of contacts it’s a great idea to use status updates to share professional news and industry relevant content. This helps keep you front of mind and your network up to date.