10 Ways To Fix Up Your Personal Brand With LinkedIn

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Maybe personal branding is egotistical, dehumanizing, or otherwise bad. Still, everybody needs a resume, everybody uses LinkedIn, and it's free.

The platform can be daunting for people who aren't used to it. But you don't have to be a technical wizard to fix up your profile.

Here are the first 5 things to do, when you have about half a day of quiet time:
  1. Professional headline: Describe yourself briefly and uniquely in a way that will make sense to your target audience. Do not put your job title here. Example: "Seasoned Knowledge Management Professional." 
  2. Photo: Use a good close-up photograph of yourself looking happy and businesslike. You should be wearing corporate attire. It does not have to cost you money to get a good photo. You do not have to be a model or a movie star. The key is the genuineness of your facial expression. 
  3. Summary: This is a short bio written in the third person. Start it off with an expanded sentence about your professional headline. Example: "Jane Doe is a seasoned knowledge management professional with more than twenty years of experience in all aspects of the field." Then go on to say what practical benefits you bring to the organization (e.g. teambuilding, eliminating stovepipes, building consensus). Then provide substantive details that prove you are who you say you are - whether it's professional experience, volunteering, publications, blogging, or you name it.
  4. Specialties: In the summary, at the end, include a list of keywords in the summary that clarify to the viewer what specific skills you have. 
  5. Experience: Make sure that all your relevant experience is listed. Take the time to fill out the profile with a description of your duties. This will enable you to use LinkedIn as your resume, literally, either by printing your profile to PDF or using the LinkedIn "Resume Builder" (Google it, link didn't work today) to create their version of a formatted document to share via URL or PDF. Do not feel that your resume only has to include your professed area of expertise. Get everything you've done in there, briefly. You never know what a recruiter is looking for. The point of the professional headline is to highlight your greatest area of skill, not to eliminate you from the running for every potential job.
Do this stuff as a next step. Give yourself more time to tackle it, maybe one item per week. If it's annoying to sit around working on your LinkedIn, remember that your business card is not just something you print on card stock anymore but rather a living, breathing testament to your commitment to the world of work:
  1. Post updates at least twice a week to show that you are reading something related to your field, interacting with others in a professional setting, or contributing in some meaningful way. Doesn't matter if you link it to Twitter or not.
  2. Increase your circle of contacts. They don't have to be your best friends, just people you know, whether you've worked with them in a paid setting, volunteered with them, or even know them in a personal capacity.
  3. Join a professional group. You can also create a professional group. Either way, be part of something related to your professed area of interest, and contribute to conversations. A lot of people join groups and never say anything in them. Remember that your comments become part of your resume and prove your expertise. 
  4. Increase your number of recommendations. This is very difficult, especially if you are shy and averse to self-promotional activity. You can always recommend others. This may or may not prompt them to recommend you. But it shows your appreciation for others who have been helpful to you in your career.
  5. Post a portfolio. The easiest way to do this is to set up a SlideShare account, upload your presentations or documents (such as articles) to it, and then link the SlideShare account to LinkedIn (go into "Settings" then "Applications" and you'll see it - it will take a couple of minutes to find this.)