If you’re using LinkedIn correctly for personal branding and executive job search, you’re coming at it in two ways:
1. You’re building keyword-rich content to boost SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so your profile sits there working PASSIVELY for you – making you more visible and findable.
2. You’re PROACTIVELY using LinkedIn’s various activities and features to draw people to you and the value you offer.
This double-pronged strategy will boost your LinkedIn profile views, which means more people assessing and considering you for job opportunities.
Before I give you the clever LinkedIn personal branding tip, I want to lay out your LinkedIn strategy in more detail, and show you how leveraging the two prongs noted above will attract more people to your profile:
Using LinkedIn Passively to Promote Your Personal Brand
This is all about SEO, and here’s how it works in general . . . and for job search, in particular:
Google, LinkedIn and other search engines strive to deliver the most relevant, helpful search results, when you enter words and phrases in a browser.
One of the many factors they use to prioritize search results is on-topic content with substance, that includes the words and phrases being searched (that is, relevant keywords).
When people look online to find people to meet their various needs, they search certain keywords and see what comes up.
You know this, if you’ve ever searched online for a professional to help you with home repairs, or other services, or if you’re researching various topics.
You search for, say, “heating contractor, [your city, state]” and begin the process of assessment and selection, based on what you find.
SEO works pretty much the same way in executive job search as it does in daily life.
Recruiters and hiring decision makers search on keywords relevant to the kinds of candidates they’re seeking, such as “Information Technology Executive, Enterprise Business Systems”.
Working from this understanding, you need to determine which are the right keywords for your particular job search.
Then you need to place those keywords in the right places in your LinkedIn profile and any other online content you create.
How do you uncover the right keywords for your LinkedIn profile?
You’ll find the right keywords for you through your targeting and research work.
As you suss out information about each of the companies you want to work for, you’ll come across the particular problems and challenges they face now. And, if you review job postings of theirs, you’ll see what skills they’re looking for. You can then determine which skills of yours will help them with these problems. In other words, you’ll uncover the skill sets, areas of expertise and other qualifications they are looking for.
These words and phrases are the relevant keywords you need to use in all your personal marketing materials – LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, cover letters, etc.
For instance, SEO-boosting keywords might look like this for a sales and marketing professional – Sales & Marketing Strategy, Change Management, Product Development, Emerging Technology Launch, etc.
Strategically placed, the right keywords elevate your search rankings in LinkedIn’s search engine, increasing your profile’s SEO and significantly boosting your profile views.
You should complete every applicable section of your profile to increase keyword density overall. Don’t forget the often neglected sections like Courses, Projects, Honors & Awards, Organizations and Volunteering.
Four of the most important places on your LinkedIn profile to add relevant keywords that boost SEO include:
- The name field where you can add relevant certification, degrees and other designations
- The profile headline which you need to customize with your most important relevant keywords and phrases
- Each job title in the Experience section, to which you can add relevant keywords
- The About section
Using LinkedIn Proactively To Draw More People To The Value You Offer
Once you’ve fully loaded your profile with content containing the right keywords, and LinkedIn is passively drawing people to you, you need to get active on the site.
Build a personal brand communications plan to leverage the LinkedIn features that will keep you top-of-mind with your network, and compel more and more new people to view your profile.
5 LinkedIn personal branding tips to keep you top-of-mind with your network:
- Build up your number of LinkedIn connections. Once you reach the 500+ connections mark, your profile ranks higher in search results, making you more visible and findable.
- Get more LinkedIn recommendations to boost your profile views.
- Post updates regularly to demonstrate your subject matter expertise and communications abilities.
- Comment on other people’s updates.
- Publish articles on LinkedIn’s Pulse long-form publishing platform.
To get all the inside skinny on how to use LinkedIn, see my Essential LinkedIn Guide for Today’s Executive Job Search.
Here’s the Clever LinkedIn Personal Branding Tip I Mentioned
Okay, now you’ve set yourself up on LinkedIn in the best way to build your personal brand, expand your network, stay top-of-mind with people, and boost your chances of landing a great-fit new job.
Your work starts paying off quickly and plenty of people are viewing your LinkedIn profile.
You know this, because you can see in your LinkedIn dashboard how many people are looking at your profile.
If you don’t know about this feature, go to “View profile” under “Me” in the menu along the top of your profile. Scroll down just a bit, and you’ll see your dashboard and “Who viewed your profile”.
Pay attention to who’s viewing your LinkedIn profile.
Think of it this way. Something prompted them to want to look at your profile. They could be at least somewhat interested in you, unless they happened onto your profile by mistake.
Beyond recruiters and other hiring professionals, they could be people who work at or are associated with the companies in your target list.
So these are hot leads . . . people who may be sitting on the very kinds of opportunities you’re seeking.
These hot leads should be followed up with.
Have you ever accessed this goldmine-of-possibilities metric in your LinkedIn dashboard, and taken the next obvious step – reaching out to at least some of them?
In order to access the people who viewed your profile, you’ll need to upgrade your LinkedIn account to Premium. You can try Premium for free for a month, and then decide whether to continue with it and pay the monthly fee.
In an article on Fast Company, professional blogger Kat Boogaard suggests one way to use “Who viewed your profile” when you’re in job search:
When a hiring manager at a company where you applied for a job, or where you want to work, views your profile, take it as a good sign that they’re interested. But just wait.
“Don’t let your excitement tempt you into immediately sending an overly eager (read: pesky) message and connection request. Instead, accept that this was likely just another step in the hiring process. If you haven’t heard anything about the job or hiring timeline in a couple of weeks? Well, at least you have the name of someone you can personally follow up with – rather than using that generic firstname.lastname@example.org email address.”
Spend a little time investigating the profiles of the various people viewing your profile. See if any of them work at your target companies. If so, reach out to them with an invitation to connect and a brief personalized message. Don’t just send the default invitation.
How Do You Connect with People You Don’t Know Who Viewed Your Profile . . . and Get Action?
Based on the excellent suggestions in a Forbes article, here’s how to craft a LinkedIn invitation with a stranger in 3 short paragraphs.
Be specific in your subject line about why you’re reaching out to them.
Bad options are “Hello” or “Help” or leaving the subject line blank, which happens more than you might realize. Something like one of these is better:
“Interested in XYZ Job posted on Company Website”
“Interested in [their company name] new product rollout”
“Fellow PMP interested in Your Take on XYZ”
Paragraph 1 – Start the message by telling them who you are.
Tell them what you do. Don’t assume that people will automatically jump to your profile to find out about you. Make it easy and quick for them. Include any names of mutual contact(s) or mutual LI Groups, tell them if you’ve worked for the same company, etc.
It may read something like:
“I’ve been the VP of Marketing at [your company name] in [location] for the past [number of years].”
Paragraph 2 – Quickly get to why you’re writing.
If they work at a company on your target list, your second paragraph may read something like:
“I’m reaching out to you for some expert advice. I’m beginning a job search in the XYZ sector, and feel my expertise will greatly benefit [their company name]. I have a few quick questions regarding [advice you need].”
If you’re writing to merely connect with them, don’t just say “I’d like to connect with you”. Instead, tell them why it would benefit them to connect with you.
Paragraph 3 – Wrap it up briefly.
Close briefly, say thank you, and add your name, tagline (if you have one), and your contact info.
Your third and final paragraph is where you add a call-to-action, such as:
“Would you have a few moments in the near future to [whatever your request is]? Thank you for your time. I appreciate your consideration and hope you’ll also connect with me on LinkedIn.”
Finally, it should go without saying that you should proofread your message carefully for errors. Don’t use texting shortcuts or other abbreviations. Compose the message in a Word document so you can use Spell Check, then re-read it again yourself for errors before sending.
Make it a habit to regularly review the people who have viewed your LinkedIn profile. Take some time to reach out to the warm and hot leads within that mix of people. The results will be well worth your efforts.