LinkedIn photo spot at a military career fair in Washington, DC (image credit Brendan Hoffman/Getty)
Washington, DC (written by Andrea Kay/Gannett) -- My father always said, "If you're going to do something, do it right or don't do it at all."
On a mission to accomplish that with my online presence, I had a makeover session with the LinkedIn folks to make my profile as "right" as possible.
First, let me say that I am and will always be the world's biggest cheerleader for going out of your way to meet, greet and be eye-ball-to-eye ball with fellow homo sapiens.
But we now have tools that help us connect to more people faster and in some cases, more directly, which can lead to live contact.
So why not use those tools - the right way?
LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network with 161 million members, has been around since 2003. Some people just jump aboard, and many don't use it to their advantage.
Although I'm not a LinkedIn expert, here are five tips to make your profile more inviting.
Just like your resume, LinkedIn is an official place to park your credentials while positioning yourself the way you want to be seen - only you're doing it online and in a different format.
And like all communications, before you dash off a word, think about the audience you're trying to influence. Who are they? How do you want them to see you and why?
1. Make the most of your "headline," right below your name.
If job hunting, this is where you first influence potential employers and position yourself the way you want them to see you. Is that as a "Sales manager with 15 years experience," or better yet: "Sales expert who increased revenues 100%?"
The latter undoubtedly will get more interest. You're not just saying, "Hey, I'm looking for a job. I've got 15 years under my belt." You're saying, "Here's what I can potentially do for you," which is what every employer looking to hire wants to know.
Include a professional head shot, not you in a one-legged king pigeon yoga pose unless you are a yoga instructor or you in a low-cut blouse or other inappropriate clothing.
Your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed with a photo, according to LinkedIn statistics. You just seem more approachable and unforgettable when people see a face with a name. Going photoless makes one wonder what you're hiding. Or if you really exist.
2. Complete the section asking for past experience.
Let's say you post only your current job that you've been in for one year. You've got 15 years experience, but if you list only your present position, you look like you have one year of experience.
What if an employer wants someone with more experience? According to LinkedIn stats, you're 12 times more likely to get "pinged" for opportunities if you list more than one position.
3. Customize your LinkedIn URL.
If you don't, it's really long and has a bunch of meaningless words, numbers and slashes that look goofy on a business card.
Plus, if someone is looking for you, it helps with search engine optimization. Don't ask me how. It just does.
4. Move around the various sections of your profile to best position yourself the way you want to be seen.
If you're a new graduate and your degree is the most important, grab and move it under your one-liner at the top: "New graduate who is passionate about business-to-business sales and marketing."
5. Update your profile headline when something changes.
If you get a new job, your headline should reflect your role and speak to your new audience.
You still need to reach out and connect. But having your profile in tip top shape online will get you closer to connecting eyeball to eyeball.