A large percentage of the profiles that are currently on LinkedIn are incorrectly utilizing the platform as nothing more than a place to post their resume. First impressions are crucial, and with so many social media platforms out there, these first impressions are becoming more and more digital versus in person. What does your LinkedIn profile say about you?
By just spending a little bit of time on your profile, you can be that person that continuously shows up in searches and generates a lot of buzz and attention. Personalizing your profile with things like a professional photo, non-generic headers and a vanity URL will not only get you noticed but it can also strengthen your SEO game.
Amanda Healy is a social media rockstar who knows a thing or two about how to stand out from the pack. She runs the corporate media accounts for her employer, TIBCO, as well as leading a team whose job is to devise and execute multidimensional campaigns for lead generation.
Rich: Amanda Healy is an award winning B2B marketing manager and social media expert, national speaker and syndicated blogger. She currently works as a marketing manager for TIBCO Software overseeing a global budget of $1.5m and leading a team of 3 to devise and execute multi touch, multi dimensional campaigns for lead gen.
She runs all corporate social media accounts for TIBCO, as well as the company’s internal social advocacy program, Post Beyond. Ms. Healy writes for PersonalBrandingBlog.com interviewing thought leaders and celebrities like Jonah Berger and Michelle Phan. The site has over 100,000 monthly readers and is syndicated by AOL, Yahoo!, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur magazine, among others.
She was recently featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author Dan Schawbel’s book “Promote Yourself” and was spotlighted by the Washington Post.
Amanda, welcome to the show.
Amanda: Thank you so much for having me.
Rich: Well I’m really glad to have you here. I actually found you because I was researching for LinkedIn experts, because I felt like we just hadn’t talked to a LinkedIn expert in a while, and I discovered you. So I guess my first question is, what drew you to LinkedIn and why do you think it’s such a powerful platform?
Amanda: I have been incredibly blessed by LinkedIn. I have actually never searched for a job before – aside from my very first one out of college – but each and every job since then has been a direct result of LinkedIn. Because of the strength of my profile and the SEO value, I’ve had recruiters come to me, I’ve had executives in marketing come to me, I’ve had people like you come to me.
And most recently an online webinar series that focuses on marketing, CMS Connected, found me on LinkedIn and brought me into their recording studio and we did a webinar. All of this was sourced by LinkedIn, so I owe a lot of my success to this platform. It’s something I’m super passionate about, I love that it’s a free tool and I think that people kind of discount the power of it.
So I’m hoping in our session today we can teach both beginners and advanced users of LinkedIn that there is so much untapped in this platform that you can be doing with it.
Rich: Well Amanda, that’s a nice segue, because my next question was all about the idea that I talk to a lot of small business people about social media. They’re always focused on Twitter, Facebook, occasionally Pinterest or Instagram. So rarely is it LinkedIn, they just don’t find it that interesting. Why do you think entrepreneurs and small business people don’t appreciate LinkedIn, and what do you tell people when they come to you with those same concerns?
Amanda: I think they see it as more of a personal site versus a business site, which is a huge oversight in my opinion. For small businesses especially I think LinkedIn is a treasure trove for finding partners, maybe even for finding investors if you’re a startup. It’s a really great way to position your company as a thought leader. It’s very much an information sharing tool and I think that people see it as just an online resume rather than thinking of it as a business tool, a way to get the word out about your company and to even drive lead generation. So I think there’s a lot more that they can be doing there.
Maybe they find that the platform setup is not as conducive to business as say, Pinterest, in terms of visuals. But I think if I were to search a company and they did not have a LinkedIn presence, I would almost wonder about their credibility because that is the biggest advantage that LinkedIn brings, I believe, to a business. It shows credibility, it gives you a platform to share thought leadership pieces that are relevant to your industry and it’s really a very professional means of connecting with prospects, current customers and also partners.
Rich: Ok, that’s very important. You talked a lot of the importance of businesses on LinkedIn, I absolutely want to come back to that. But you had said something early on that kind of interested me, and that was that you had talked about how all these people had found you on LinkedIn, including myself. I assume they found your profile. So what exactly did you do to make your profile stand out? What kind of tips and tricks can you give us to get found on LinkedIn?
Amanda: As I mentioned before, the biggest misconception – it drives me crazy – is that people think of LinkedIn as their online resume. So they literally take their resume and copy and paste it to LinkedIn and pat themselves on the back. In reality, LinkedIn should be your personal website. It’s a free platform, it should be much more than just your resume, it should be the very first thing that pops up when someone searches your name on Google.
In today’s world first impressions have always meant everything, but now people’s first impression is typically a digital one, and you actually have control over that. I think if you’re not investing the time necessary into your LinkedIn, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
In terms of making yourself stand out, I view a lot of LinkedIn profiles and there is a consistent thread I see throughout them. They all start with the same, exact thing; “Seasoned X, Y, Z pro. XYZ years of experience, etc” People are using the same jargon in their summary at the top of their profile as everyone else. So I think if there’s one thing you take away from this session, you need to sit down and write a summary that actually talks about not what you do but why you do it.
A lot of people will put bullet points, use your individual role descriptions under “experience” to bullet those out because they’re relevant to each of your roles. But in your summary, what’s most interesting to me is finding out why someone does what they do. So if I go to my own summary on LinkedIn, I talk about how my first job was at a lemonade stand, and the same qualities that are with that are the qualities that I’ve brought to each and every job throughout; curiosity, a positive attitude, teamwork, thirst for knowledge, that sort of thing. And then you can bring in a couple of your accomplishments, but I think what makes you stand out is when you sound like a human being. It’s not written in the third party, it should be written in your first person voice. Tell us what makes you “you” – as cliche as that sounds – you don’t see it very often on LinkedIn, so that makes you stand out right off the bat.
One other quick tip, at the top of your profile it will default your title to whatever title you’ve had most recently. A lot of people don’t realize that that is editable, and I don’t think that it should say your exact role. If you go to mine it says exactly what you just put forth, “Award winning B2B Marketing Manager, Social Media Expert, National Speaker.” Tell us more than your current title. I’ve seen people that have something like, “Digital Thinker” or “Game Changer,” and that sort of thing I find way more interesting because it makes you stand out and it makes me want to learn more about you.
Rich: Alright, that’s pretty important, too. So are people searching for things like “award winning B2B marketer?” Like when I found you I think I was looking for “LinkedIn expert,” which I see is in your current description. Is that part of what you do, because “LinkedIn Expert” is not necessarily a job, but how should we think about crafting our own profiles so that we’re getting found by the people that matter the most?
Years ago I stopped calling myself “President of flyte new media,” and I think I changed it to something more descriptive like, “Chief Social Media Consultant:, or something along those lines so that if someone were looking for that job description, I might come up. It seems like you’ve done that with “LinkedIn expert,” are there other things that we can be doing – not just to separate ourselves or make ourselves stand out – but once they found us and to get found in the search?
Amanda: Absolutely. So I think you can’t discount the value of SEO. You should know what are the relevant keywords in your industry and what do you want to be known for? So for me, “social media” is a huge keyword, “lead generation” is a huge keyword for me. These are things that I do and I do well, so I’ve sprinkled these throughout my profile in my headline, and I think throughout your summary you should sprinkle those throughout as well and then reiterate on them when you have your individual role description.
One thing that I think a lot of people do not understand is endorsements. There’s a difference between endorsements and recommendations. Recommendations are those long form – maybe a paragraph – that people will ask you to give them and you can in turn ask people to give you. Endorsements are when you go to your homepage and you see those boxes that say, “Does Amanda Healy know about social media?”, and you can click yes or no or skip or whatnot. A lot of people don’t really understand what those are or when they’re getting emails that say, “Joe has endorsed you for social media strategy, lead generation, etc.” These are actually incredibly valuable for SEO.
If you scroll down my profile under “skills and endorsements” it has my top skills, and my first one is “social media marketing”, 93 people have endorsed me for that. As a result, if a recruiter or partner or someone like you, Rich, is looking for someone who is well versed in social media, because I have such a high level of endorsements I’m far more likely to pop up on their search results.
My biggest recommendation for this area of LinkedIn is to make sure that you’re populating your skills, there’s an area on your profile that asks you to list them. Make sure you’re endorsing others for skills, of course, only endorse them if they truly are well versed in those skill. And also be looking out for people to endorse you on those. So it’s very valuable and I think a lot of people just kind of see it as a game or maybe a nuisance, but it helps a lot with SEO.
Rich: Interesting. I was wondering because it seemed to me it was almost too easy to get endorsements from people, and vice versa. Whereas recommendations actually took people some time to write. I thought it was interesting that they de-emphasized that as they brought in the endorsements.
Amanda: I think that endorsements pull you in right from the get go, but you’re looking for proof of them. So yes, it’s easy to click endorsements, but if I’m a hiring manager and I go to their profile because of their level of endorsements, then I’m going to go straight to the recommendations and I want to see real testimonials that are in longer form. So I think it’s a 2-step prong. I think that recommendations are more important in the long run, but i just don’t think that we should discount endorsements as well.
Rich: When you and I were talking before, you mentioned that a lot of people are beginning to blog right on the LinkedIn platform, rather than at their own site. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that?
Amanda: This is a hidden gem of LinkedIn and it’s a relatively recent addition. So if you go to the homepage on LinkedIn you’ll see where you can share an update with your followers, you can upload a photo. And then there’s a pen and pencil that says, “publish a post”. So this allows you to blog directly to LinkedIn. I think this is an incredible feature because a lot of people either currently blog or maybe they want to blog, but to develop a blog from scratch is a ton of work. You have to get the logistics in place, you have to start to build a following. LinkedIn’s advantage is that you already have your network there and LinkedIn has over 364 million users at this point, and that’s your potential audience when you publish a blog here.
So when you click it you can add an image like a cover photo to the blog post, you can write your headline and you can start writing directly within LinkedIn. You can add tags, it will give you the shareable link – and if you’re wondering where this publishes – a lot of people receive a weekly email from LinkedIn that has relevant blog posts in them. Basically LinkedIn scrolls through your profile, pulls out relative keywords and serves up content that they think you will be interested in in an email. So I often will see blog posts that are catered to marketing and social media, and yours could be featured in that email.
Once you publish this to LinkedIn it will appear on your profile and you’ll find you get a lot of views. A friend of mine recently wrote her very first blog to LinkedIn and did an excellent job. And within 3 minutes of publishing she had 80 views. She’s never published a single thing to LinkedIn before, but the views just kept rolling in and she got comments and there were comments from people she wants to be connected with, big hitters in her industry.
I think if you haven’t checked out the blogging feature on LinkedIn, it’s definitely worth taking a look, especially if you blog already just given the prospective audience that you can have with your post for positioning yourself as a thought leader in your space.
Rich: Absolutely. A thought leader for sure, and then I also noticed as I was walking through this as you talked about it, there appears to be the ability to link to outside resources as well. So you can certainly have a call to action and drive people to your website. Of course if you make it a little too transparent, people may not want to read your stuff. You need to provide value anyways, but it does seem that you can create some lead generation from there as well.
Amanda: Absolutely. It should never be a hard sell, I don’t think any social media initiative should be a hard sell. Lead with the information, add value with the post, but I think it’s very warranted at the bottom to say, “if want to learn more, check this page out”, and then drive that traffic back to you, your website, a demo or a gated asset such as a white paper. We’re actually encouraging our executives at TIBCO to blog directly to the page and then link back to our blog site on our webpage. I think it’s a really good way to do a very low touch, start at the top of the funnel activity for lead gen.
Rich: Cool. Now I want to come back to something that you were talking about earlier. You kind of said that LinkedIn is a great opportunity for companies to position themselves as thought leaders. This is something I’ve always struggled with with LinkedIn, maybe because it did seem to start as kind of a resume/networking website that the company pages have never been really robust and they keep on changing them around. How would you recommend that a business market or promote themselves using LinkedIn as a platform as opposed to just an individual?
Amanda: Yeah, sure. So I think there’s a lot of different ways. The first thing is if you go to any company page you can see their recent updates. This should never be blank. You do have an audience there – or you should at this point – even if you’re a small company, all of your employees should be part of your LinkedIn group because then they’re opening that group to their networks as well. So you should be publishing regular updates. We crosslink to our blog page quite often on TIBCO’s LinkedIn, we share product updates, we share news of our executives, we share a lot of different types of content there and we get a lot of engagement.
I think that companies can also use LinkedIn as a listening tool. You should be involved in groups that are relevant to your industry, so for example with TIBCO, any group that is a large group that’s involved in big data or event processing or integration, we’re there and we’re listening. We want to hear what are the problems that the people in these groups – who are clearly passionate about the subject matter – are experiencing, what do they wish a product could do for them. And that’s where you can insert yourself. Again, it’s not a hard sell. If someone is talking about big data or the Internet of Things and we’ve written a recent blog post about them, we’ll comment back with a relevant comment where we’ll say, “Hey, we’re experiencing the same thing and absolutely agree with you. We just recently published a blog post on this, you should check it out.” That’s a really good way to have a soft touch but also to show that you’re relevant, that you get it and are in the midst of where your prospect’s and customer’s conversations lie.
Rich: So if I’m hearing you correctly, there’s 2 real fronts that a business could use to kind of increase their visibility and engage with their audience using LinkedIn. One would be to have a robust LinkedIn page that is regularly updated. The other one sounds more like having a strategy where key members of your organization are reaching out. Because you’re not reaching out as TIBCO in these groups, you’re reaching out as individuals who work for TIBCO, correct?
Amanda: Exactly. I think it’s a little bit off putting if you see a company commenting in a group. But for example, one of our head executives, Mark Palmer, is extremely passionate about social and extremely passionate about our business. And my team and I are the ones monitoring the conversations, but if we see something that’s really relevant to us that we need to insert ourselves, we’ll reach out to Mark or other executives and screenshot it and get them to comment. And that helps them from a professional standpoint and it also helps the business.
Rich: Alright. I have a question for you – and you may have already answered this by the last question – do groups still matter on LinkedIn? Because I know for a while I was having some great conversations in groups, and now it feels like it’s almost drive by posting, where people are posting from blogs directly into groups and sharing their own content. And I’m not saying I’m not guilty of this occasionally, but it seems like the quality of the conversation in most of the groups I belong to has steadily gone downhill into only promotion.
Have you found this, or am I maybe the exception to the rule, and what can we do to kind of make groups better?
Amanda: I tend to agree. So my first nit that I would say to our listeners is that a lot of people will join groups because they think they should. It’s almost like in high school when you join a bunch of extra curricular activities because you want to put them on your resume for college. So they’ll join all these groups, but then they’ll be a wallflower and not comment or poke around.
My nit with groups is join very few, be very selective in the ones that you join and do your due diligence. Research what groups matter most, which ones have the highest levels of engagement and I think you should choose quality over quantity. So a digital marketing group that has a ton of members but not much interaction, and then on the other hand you have a group with 100 members but the interaction level is high.
So I think – to get back to what you were saying – I do agree that I’ve seen or lack of a better word, some laziness, within groups that people are kind of abusing and I think we need to set an example. And maybe you even call the people out. there have definitely been some groups where I’ve said, “Listen, I found that this is becoming way more of a bullhorn rather than a two-way communication. So people are just pushing content out and not doing their due diligence to comment back. So I think it’s up to us to make the most of the groups that we are part of. And if you find that a group is no longer performing in the manner that it previously was, I would say ditch that group and find a new one or maybe start your own that has quality members that really and truly care about the cause.
Rich: Yeah, I feel the same way. I have recently struggled with one of my favorite groups on LinkedIn for Maine Professionals has basically just become a posting front. Then I write for Social Media Examiner that has a group on LinkedIn, they have 3 or 4 moderators that check the group daily, keeping the conversation healthy and deleting things that are spammy or promotional. Although that cuts down on some of the people posting, those are not the people you want posting anyways. So it does take some curation to run a successful group and it does take some effort to make a group really productive.
Amanda: Yes, I definitely prefer the groups that have moderators, I think it really helps streamline the content because no one wants noise. We’re definitely trending toward a culture that just does not have time for this noise. So if I receive an email with the group updates and I’m finding that there is spam in it or it’s very promotional, then I don’t have time for it and I’m going to leave the group. So the moderators serve everyone well and the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Rich: Any other ninja tricks that you want to share with us, or any mistakes that you see people making on LinkedIn?
Amanda: Yeah, sure. So another kind of lesser known item is that you can customize your URL for LinkedIn. So if you go to your page you’ll see the little LinkedIn box – the icon under your photo to the left – and it will default to LinkedIn.com/in/ [a bunch of numbers and letters], and you should 100% make this a vanity URL. So now mine ends in Amanda Healy. And you should put that link everywhere, it should be in your signature of your email, it should be cross linked to your Twitter account, if you’re a speaker it should be on each of your bios. You really want to be driving as much traffic as you can to your page because again, that increases your SEO value.
I want to talk a little bit about your picture because this tends to be almost a hurdle to people who are either on LinkedIn or joined LinkedIn.
Rich: Are you talking about our personal profile photos?
Amanda: Yeah, exactly. You think it’s a simple thing, but I can’t tell you how many horrendous photos I’ve seen. And I’m not talking about looks wise, I’m talking about unprofessional, I’m talking about an image that is grainy and fuzzy or maybe it’s you with your arm around your buddy and then you cropped your buddy out, or maybe it’s a picture of your dog. I’ve seen a total spectrum of photos.
This is my recommendation, spend the money it’s not that expensive, go to a professional photographer and tell them exactly what you’re looking for to come off as. Whether it’s approachable, friendly, intelligent, knowledgeable, they will give you direction. And make sure you’re happy with your photo. A lot of people get so embarrassed.
I speak at a lot of women’s conferences and oftentimes I’ll do profile makeover workshops. I go to their profile and a lot times they don’t even have a picture. I ask why and they say they don’t really have one that they like or they think it seems to vain to put one up there. I tell them, “Listen, if you don’t have a profile picture, I think you’re a robot or not real.” And if you have a poor one, you remember what I said about digital first impressions, I tend to form my own judgements about you.
So you should go and find a profile picture that you like and you should put that everywhere.
If you think of LinkedIn as a personal branding tool, your photo is your logo, so your logo should be the same on every channel. My LinkedIn profile picture is the same one as my Twitter one, the same as my Google email one, the same as my intranet photo on TIBCO’s site, etc. It should be everywhere, it should be consistent, you’re building a brand.
So that’s just a little nit about photos. In terms of other ninja tricks, under your summary you have the opportunity to share items in media as a portfolio. I talked about how we’re becoming a culture of just not having time for noise, unfortunately we’re not having time to read either, so we’re very much a scanning culture, we’re very visual. So under your summary you should be putting those visuals, those media elements. If you go under mine, you can see my interview with WBZ, you can see a couple slide decks that I’ve developed for social training, you can see the expo that Rich mentioned of me with the Washington Post. So there’s a lot that you can do here.
If you’re creative and a graphic designer you can put a portfolio here. If there’s a white paper that you’ve authored, out it here. My one nit there is always make sure that you’re .pdf’ing anything that could be editable because you don’t want people taking your work, so it should always be in .pdf format.
I think the visual element of LinkedIn is very important because as you scroll down on someone’s profile it can get overwhelming when it’s just text. So I would encourage that. If you have the opportunity to have a cover photo, then don’t just put polka dots up there or something that you think looks good with your profile picture, again you should try to bring it back to something that’s personal to you. If you’re an artist, it should be your artwork up there. If you’re a speaker, maybe a picture of you speaking to a room of your audience, that sort of thing.
So those are initial things I can think of off the bat, but I think they’re important to making your profile stand out.
Rich: That’s awesome, and I think I checked off every single thing that you just said and I’ve already scored that. So I feel like I’ve got your stamp of approval.
Amanda: Absolutely! And actually, LinkedIn does a good job on the sidebar, it will tell you how complete your profile is. And I think there’s no excuse to not have a 100% complete profile because that is, again, going to get you a lot more views. They published a statistic that LinkedIn members with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive networking opportunities. So I think that’s a good reason to check in with yourself to see what you’re missing on your profile.
Rich: Yeah, and I really liked what you said about the photo and the visuals because we are so visually oriented and because there’s so much information. I know when I go on and get to that page from either someone I know or a connection I’ve made, when I see the generic icon of somebody who hasn’t uploaded their photo, what it tells me is that they’re not really active on this platform so there’s no point in engaging with them.
Likewise, if I see a photo that is better suited for a Facebook photo – in other words a party you’re at with a beer in your hand and somebody’s disembodied arm over your shoulder – likewise, I think this is probably not the person I want to engage with unless I’m looking to hire someone who’s going to host a nice party for me.
Amanda: Yeah, exactly. First impressions are really everything, and sometimes your first impression is just that little box with the person’s profile picture in it. So I think it’s really important to make sure that it’s a good first impression.
Rich: Right, and like you said, it’s not expensive to hire a professional photographer or just to go into a studio for half an hour and get a bunch of headshots done. It’s very affordable and it’s an investment that will last for a couple years at least. Although there are some people that hold onto their photos for about 10 years, that’s another story.
Amanda: And then you don’t recognize them when you meet them in person. Yup, I’ve run into that. So yeah, I just feel like people discount the value of it, but it really and truly is important. Some companies will even have a “LinkedIn Day” and they’ll bring in a photographer to do it. You can always try suggesting that to your company but it does make a world of difference.
Rich: That’s a great idea. Amanda, this has been great. I know people are going to want to learn more, sp where can they find you online?
Amanda: Sure, so obviously I’m a social animal. Please get at me using Twitter, my handle is @Amanda_Healy. I’d love to connect on LinkedIn, too, so that’s www.linkedin.com/in/amandahealy. Again, make sure that your own url handle is a vanity url, much easier. And then by email my Gmail account is Amanda.Healy37@gmail.com. So I can be reached on any of these platforms, all are equal opportunity for me. Today has been great, thank you so much for having me.
Rich: It’s been our pleasure. Thanks, Amanda.
Amanda: Thank you.
- Amanda would love to hear from you! Send her a tweet, connect with her on LinkedIn, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Are you interesting in reading interviews with industry celebrities and thought leaders? Then check out the insightful blog that Amanda contributes to.
- Check out Rich Brooks on LinkedIn and see how his profile stacks up against the suggestions and tips in today’s show.
- Want to learn how to better leverage the 3 most important channels in digital marketing: search, social and mobile? Then the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference is for you! Early bird tickets are still available. Bummed because you can’t make it on September 25th? That’s ok, you can purchase a digital ticket instead!
- Transcription and VA services provided by Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services.