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How to improve your LinkedIn profile

Written by Paul Stallard

While out for a few beers last night with some mates, that don’t work in PR, Amanda (the wife) started telling them how I had my own blog that I work on daily, I contribute to the company blog and use a tool called LinkedIn instead of FaceBook. 

At this point I tried to explain why I use the LinkedIn and what I hope to get out of doing so especially as I have been such a vocal anti-Facebook user in my circle of mates.  I don’t have a Facebook profile and am quite happy not having one.  After every horror story I hear about the dreaded social network I feel that I have taken the right stance…regardless of how sad I sound saying this.

This said, it has got me thinking about LinkedIn and why I use it today.  Initially I started using it when I was leaving my last agency when I wasn’t allowed to tell clients, journalists and other contacts where I was going but instead was expected to let them all think I had fallen off the face of the Earth.  I realized that it was a way of letting these people know where I had gone and most importantly what my new contact details were.

This said, as a PR professional I have found LinkedIn invaluable.  At Berkeley PR we use Gorkana as our media database, a service which I think is excellent, but every now and again it doesn’t have a direct line or email for a journo I want to contact.  At this point I always consult my LinkedIn to find these details.

Below are some ideas from the excellent Chris Brogan’s blog on how to get the best out of LinkedIn:

Who are you?  The headline you use is vital as this is what people see when they choose whether to accept your invite.  If you work for a company, put that name in the headline and don’t lie…..that means you Mr Recruitment agency.  When writing your summary try where possible to lead with what you do, the type of business you want to do, the reason why others would do business with you and then look at what you actually do.

As a Pr person always try to write this not only with journalists in mind but also prospective clients.  Hopefully they will read your profile and think “this is the type of person I want to lead my account”.

I have to admit that the next point is something I am quite poor at but I am trying to improve.  It is vital to keep your summary fresh by updating it every two week and your work experience sections every four weeks.  LinkedIn needs to be more than just something you add contacts to.

Recommendations, is a key part of LinkedIn but you need to be smart about using them.  Can you vouch for the person you are recommending’s abilities?  I have heard many people say that they are recommending someone in return for the one they received from someone else.  Ridiculous.
The reputation engine part of LinkedIn, is the most important part of the tool and you should only recommend people that you would work with again.  Recommendations is an extremely powerful part of LinkedIn and it is important its strength is not weakened by recommending everyone and their dog just because they ask you.

Points to always remember include:
1. Review your LinkedIn profile. Look at it as if you’re a prospective client or journalist.  Would you want to work with this person?  If not, rewrite it.
2. Ensure you include your blog address on your profile page. 
3. Always add a photo.  As a PR we have all gone to meet a journalist we have never met before so this is an important way of getting them to know what you look like.  Use a good picture.  
4. Start writing quality recommendations for people you can vouch for.
5. Grow your network. If you deal with someone on a press release, press interview or case study send a request.
6. Keep reviewing your profile and ensure it is up to date.