Quick: Do a search on your NAME and see what comes up. Chances are, your LinkedIn profile comes up in the top one to five SERPs (search engine results pages). Because of this, it’s critical you have a professional profile; prospects WILL search on your name before meeting with you or doing business with your company. If your LinkedIn profile is poorly done (or nonexistent), it sends up a red flag. At a minimum, here are five things you need to do to create a positive impression.

  1. A professional photo with emphasis on the word professional. If you don’t have a head shot, get one. According to Forbes magazine, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be viewed than those without photos. In fact, about 19% of recruiters only look at your image. Make it current and dress for the job you want to have. Remember, this is your professional image , not a time for a cute pic with your pet, unless your career is about animals. And if you’re the CEO, it’s critical that you look like a consummate pro.
  2. An Eye-Catching Title: Your LinkedIn title appears below your name and is the first thing someone will see. This is an opportunity to put in keywords that you want people to use or you expect they will use to find you. You can use it to list the position you want, the skills you possess, or some of your achievements. Use this space wisely. Unless you enter something here, it defaults to your current position and current company.
  3. An Enticing Summary: This is your chance to highlight your professional experience, expertise and other credibility-building information. It also allows you to express your voice and personality. You’re not restricted by page size, but you don’t need to write a book either-usually two to three brief paragraphs touching on your strengths, passion and experience.
  4. A Solid (And Complete) Work History: If you’re looking for a job, you definitely don’t want gaps in your employment, and your LinkedIn profile IS your online résumé. If you’re a company CEO, you want to highlight the companies you’ve led and previous positions you’ve held to build a profile of how you got where you are today. Since job titles can mean different things in different companies, be sure to list the function of your role and key results you achieved, such as, “Saved the company $10 million,” or “Increased sales by $100K.”
  5. Endorsements: Nothing you say about yourself is as powerful and believable as what someone else says about you – especially clients. If your profile is missing endorsements, reach out to a few happy clients and ask them to write a sentence or two about you. If you’re a job seeker, ask previous employers and managers to write an endorsement for you.