The B2B Guide to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile—During and After a Pandemic
Optimizing your social media profile on LinkedIn starts by assuming ownership and responsibility to ensure you remain relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
Yes, everything has changed as a result of Coronavirus. The question of whether life will ever go back to “normal” would be best answered by stating the obvious—yes, but it will take some time, maybe months or even years. One thing is for sure: it will take a lot of mental preparation to go about our business without worrying about someone coughing next to us and wondering about what they may have.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us working from home, while others have lost their jobs as a result of the economic slowdown. Still, the opportunity to remain “distant but social” has led to a surge in virtual conference users across the B2B world. And in that process, we have been meeting with prospects and others who would like to know about each other ahead of a meeting—and LinkedIn has been a formidable “know before you join” tool ahead of our Zoom meetings.
Without question, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for companies to communicate information, value and quality to their industries. It is also a direct channel to your markets and both current and potential customers. Think of LinkedIn as the “Professional Social Media” and here are some basic rules to use when creating or managing your LinkedIn Profile.
Some of this advice is not limited to LinkedIn since what you post on Facebook and Instagram can also help communicate value as a member of a group or as an employee of a company. The basic rule is to do your best in using good judgment when communicating information—particularly if your employer, fellow employees and clients may read your Social Media posts.
Here are some ways to optimize your LinkedIn Profile, which is the primary professional social channel—and don’t hesitate to ask your HR department or supervisor if any of this is not clear:
- LIKE or FOLLOW Your Employer’s LinkedIn Page: When you like your employer’s LinkedIn Page, particularly soon after joining the company, you are actually helping your network of contacts see where you are at now. This can lead to inquiries for new business because it is a well-known fact people like to do business with those whom they trust and value as a business contact.
- Use Your Personal Email Address to Create a Profile or as Primary Email: Quite often people fail to use their personal email address on LinkedIn and if they use a company email and someday they decide to leave, their profile can no longer be recovered if you forget your password. You should check and see what email address you are using and updated according to this Best Practice. Once you have added or updated your Primary Email, you can add additional emails such as the one your employer assigns to you. This can help you come up in searches for people whose smartphones share information with the LinkedIn app.
- Look or Search for the Official Name of the Company: Some companies have variations of their name, which may include an “Inc.” or “LLC” or in some cases they will include a tagline. When adding a new job on your LinkedIn Profile, always start typing and select from the drop-down the correct name.By selecting the proper company name, the Company’s Profile can accurately report the number of people who are actively working in it. A similar process can be performed on Facebook when posting where you work, which uses a search feature to locate the exact company name—considering that these days many companies have similar names.
- Posting on Social Media is a Big Responsibility as a Professional: When posting on Social Media—be it Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram—it is important to keep in mind that as an employee of a company your opinions about a variety of subjects (including religion, activism and politics) may be scrutinized by others. The question of “would people I do business with approve of me saying this?” should apply.Avoid incendiary, contradictory or abrasive comments when posting or commenting. This often leads others to think less of your, even if you think you are defending or advocating for what you believe to be right or just. As the old adage says, if you don’t have anything nice to say—then don’t say anything at all.
- Your Company’s LinkedIn Page is its Official Source of Company Information: We live in a time when the manipulation of news stories to fit a particular cause or purpose, often leads to inaccurate information being shared on social media. This can lead to negative press, misinformation and a bad reputation—and in some cases legal issues. Your employer’s official Company Profile on LinkedIn serves as an official source since its content is curated to let others know the information is current and valid.Sharing information from “official sources” ensures a company’s market communicates effectively information that has been carefully curated, planned and vetted internally to ensure accuracy. This is why your LinkedIn Page, as well as Facebook and Instagram, are official “channels” of communication to protect the company’s image, its branding and the work you do with quality information.
- Posting Company Content on Your Social Media Content: You already know it is a big responsibility to post company information on Social Media. If you have to share an update about a particular event, project or interaction—always get pre-approved to do so by your employer. Failing to get the appropriate permission can lead to a variety of marketing and legal issues because your post may release information ahead of its official disclosure or worst, other parties involved (such as clients or strategic partners) may be limited contractually from sharing it.To avoid being the one who inadvertently released inaccurate information that can compromise your employer’s relationship with customers, partners or governments, do not post on Social Media unless you have explicit approval in writing. It will save you a headache and could save your job—as well as your company’s reputation.
- Be Social by Liking/Loving, Sharing, Commenting, and Tagging on Social Media: Social Media is called that for a reason, allowing you to socialize with others in a virtual environment by sharing ideas, introducing new perspectives and engaging in conversations that can lead to new learning, business growth and exposure for you and your employer. So, as long as you are communicating information prudently with your network, social interaction ensures you are seen as a leader in your field.When your employer shares official information, consider liking (or loving) the curated post, as well as commenting with enthusiasm. You should also share any official company posts with clients or prospective clients who could benefit from the information being shared. Last, but not least, commenting with a tag of your colleagues or customers on a post can help
- Clean Up the Information on Your Profile: Do you know what the word “curate” means? In Social Media terms, to curate content means to apply careful consideration to the information you share in social media, including the protection of a brand. Curating your own personal brand or projection of a personal image as a professional in your field involves doing some cleaning up of the information you have made available for public view.Just as we have asked you to protect the image of your employer—which also curates its official information—you should be aware of a number of opportunities to establish a positive reputation for your image, which on LinkedIn includes the following:
- Create a Custom Profile URL: Your profile URL is a direct link you can share with others to your LinkedIn profile. Check yours and if it reads anything other than a sequence like “first_name-last_name” or “firstnamelastname” you should edit it right away. Using an easier naming convention can make it easier to share your LinkedIn’s profile address on email or a text message.
- Add Basic Contact Information: Yes, this is where you can add your professional or current email address (remember, you use a personal email to create/control your LinkedIn profile) for others to see and communicate with you. Don’t forget to add your company’s website and any other opportunities to list additional contact details.
- Use a Professional Photo: If you are wanting to project a professional image that others can recognize in public, consider having a headshot taken with a smile in your face and with enough light in your face (not necessarily using a camera flash or facing the sun) to show your facial features.Most smartphones these days have a “portrait” mode that blurs the background, so ask a friend to stand 3 feet from you and frame your head (leave some space above it) and chest area with the middle of your belly at the bottom edge. This can then be uploaded to LinkedIn and then framed or trimmed online. That’s it.
- Use Sentence Case for Your Name: Many people think that spelling is not important and if you can’t spell your name, then you have a bigger problem to deal with. However, capitalizing your name as in “John E. Smith” is the proper way to depict a name—not “john e. smith” nor “JOHN E. SMITH”.
- Use a Professional Headline to Communicate Value: On LinkedIn, the headline is located directly under your name and you can use it to let others know what you do for a living—particularly if you’re expecting to generate business or interest by others who may want to connect with you. You get up to 120 characters in it, so make it count and use as much of the space to share your headline.
- Update Your Current Location with a City and State: If you recently moved to a new city for a job and you had lived in another location outside of the area, be sure to update your LinkedIn profile to reflect it. This can help your employer when a prospect searches for your profession, which can lead them back to Company Profile to inquire about the local services it offers.
- Add Your Professional Services: If you are an engineer, list all your core competencies and areas of focus to show you cover a broad range of specialties in the work you do. After all, developing an expectation with a prospective client begins by letting them know you can perform specific services they may be searching for online.
- Write a Professional Summary: Writing is not difficult if you can answer a set of basic questions to let others know in more detail what you can deliver (with examples):• Who are you? I am a civil engineer with more than 20 years of experience in the Construction and Development Industry in the Central Florida region.• What do you do? In my role as Senior Engineer for ABC Industries, I lead a team of engineers, architects and CAD technicians who provide XYZ solutions for customers involved in the design, construction and planning of commercial development Real Estate projects.• What are some highlights of your career? During my professional life, I have been involved in projects to include (list 3-5 project types). In addition, my work has covered (list your areas of expertise or leadership).• What industry organizations or trade associations do you belong to? I am a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). On a personal level, I belong to the Rotary Club of Orbit City, where I serve as Club Treasurer.• What industry credentials or licenses do you hold? Since 2003, I hold a Professional Engineer (P.E.) certificate from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
• What kind of clients do you seek? At ABC Industries we actively seek the opportunity to work with national and global Real Estate developers, construction consultants and municipalities needing a professional engineering team involved in their planning and execution of large-scale projects.
- Update Your Education and Work Experience: This should not be too hard since you know where you went to school and where you worked. In fact, your LinkedIn profile should mimic your resume, which tracks all the different jobs you’ve had in the past—so, use your resume as a reference. And don’t pass on the opportunity to share a brief description of the work you did in those companies, to assure your future clients that you offer the experience and insight they need from your employer.
- Ask for Professional Recommendations: This section is perhaps one of the most underused of all LinkedIn features. Not only does asking for a recommendation from a friendly former colleague or client adds value to your profile—it also gives you an opportunity to reach out and update them about your employer and perhaps prompt them to inquire about the services it offers. And by the same token, always reciprocate by giving a heartfelt recommendation back to them.
- Fill Out all Other LinkedIn Profile Sections: The information you’ve read will give you a starting point for cleaning up and curating your public information. However, LinkedIn offers a lot more sections to add Awards, Licenses, and Skills & Endorsements, among many more. The more you add—the more complete your effort of projecting a positive image on your behalf and by proxy, of your employer.
The subject of updating a LinkedIn profile can go on forever but you need to take ownership and curate it to the best of your abilities. We live in a world where being connected digitally is not a matter of choice, but rather an expected behavior by professionals in all fields. With LinkedIn being the largest professional Social Media network in the world, it has also become the primary way to validate a professional by employers and clients alike.
Today’s professionals know it is their responsibility to update their LinkedIn profile regularly if they expect to be recognized for their efforts and achievements—but it also means that such an online presence demands personal responsibility and accountability.
As a final point, always check with your Supervisor and your employer’s HR department about specific policies on Social Media usage as an employee. These days, many companies have specific Social Media policies in place based on their own contractual commitments to clients, as well as related to laws and regulations that require employees to maintain confidentiality about their projects.
Remember that curating your company’s image, as well as your own personal LinkedIn profile can keep you relevant during these unprecedented times. Be active—like, share, comment, and tag—to engage others in constructive engagement that can lead to new business or a new job.
Updating your LinkedIn profile during and after the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic can result in new business or a new job based on the details you provide.
About the Author
Andres Goyanes, MBA
Andres is the Founder and Chief Alchemist at AETHER Marketing Communications. He supports our clients with a wealth of experience and insight gained over more than two decades managing marketing operations in a variety of industries. Connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/andresgoyanes