Would you find it useful to exchange knowledge and ideas with your colleagues without sending separate email messages? How about the opportunity to connect with a broader network of managers? Would you take advantage of a free online tool that provides you with a professional presence on the Internet showcasing your experience, skills and capabilities? Would you like to know when managers change clubs and update their career status? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this may be the time to join LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network (currently over 120 million members and growing) or update your current LinkedIn Profile page (By the way, according to a recent survey, 86% of recruiters use LinkedIn to research candidates). This article provides some basic information to create and modify your LinkedIn profile as well as helpful hints to get the most out of your online LinkedIn online presence.

Get Started

If you are ready to take the first step – completing the online profile and making it public – click here to join LinkedIn. The link also allows you to connect your Facebook account to LinkedIn although I recommend keeping them separate. My Facebook account is private and personal and my LinkedIn account is my professional presence. If you are using Facebook as a professional online presence, you can join the two accounts. Please remember – LinkedIn is for professional, not personal, use. Don’t forget that this is an online presence that potential employers will review so keep it all about business and professionalism.

For details on creating a LinkedIn Profile visit the LinkedIn Learning Center. I highly recommend importing your current resume to assist in filling in your Profile fields. Here are instructions to import your resume.

Create an Effective Profile To aid in completing or modifying your profile, I have listed the following tips.

  • Write an Effective Summary. Think of it as your 30-second elevator pitch. List your accomplishments, achievements, and approaches. “This is what I can do for you.” Write in the first person, use key words that will help in the search process, and keep it brief – two to three paragraphs at the most. There is a Specialties section of the Summary that allows you to add key words and phrases that are searchable.
  • Include a Profile Photo. Although I don’t recommend adding a photograph on a resume, I highly recommend adding a profile picture in LinkedIn. A LinkedIn profile without a picture may be viewed as suspicious. A headshot of you helps to verify that you are real person. If you are trying to make new connections, they may not recognize your name but they will probably recognize your face. It really is a part of your personal brand. Upload a headshot that is in JPG, PNG or GIF format. The file can be no larger than 4 Mb in size and the dimensions should be 80 x 80 pixels.
  • Write an Informative Headline. In 120 characters or less you can add your brand or goal in your LinkedIn headline. This is the first thing everyone sees and it is searchable text (think Google search). Google “LinkedIn Headline” to get all kinds of tips on writing an informative headline.
  • List Your Current and Past Employment and Education. Add your current and past employment history and be sure to include months/years, just as you would on your resume. Also add your education in the education section of the Profile. As mentioned earlier, you can speed up this process by importing your current resume into your profile. If you are successful in importing your resume, most of this information will be entered for you. Just review and edit the information as necessary. If you are currently unemployed, list your current position as “Open to opportunities.”
  • Add Key Words and Phrases in the Skills Section. Fill your specialties section with key words and phrases that describe your career experience and work philosophy. Check the Profile pages of colleagues to get ideas.
  • Request Recommendations. Recommendations are references. They are highly valued and sought after by LinkedIn members and very relevant and useful for recruiters. Since LinkedIn recommendations are so important, I have dedicated an entire section to them below.
  • Make Your Profile “Public” and Customize the URL. Don’t forget to make your LinkedIn profile “public” so that it will be displayed as a result in a Google search and is available for review by those outside of LinkedIn. I also recommend customizing your public LinkedIn URL (for example: www.linkedin.com/in/yourname). This provides a more user-friendly reference to your LinkedIn Profile that can be added to your resume and email signature. Click here for instructionsClick here to view my public LinkedIn Profile.
  • Add Contact Settings. The Contact section is provides information to anyone who views your profile about what types of things you would like to be contacted for via LinkedIn. These may include Career Opportunities, Expertise Requests, Reference Requests, Consulting Offers, Job Inquiries, etc. You can also write a statement to your would-be contacts here.
  • Add Sections to Your Profile. Add the Organizations and Certifications sections to your Profile and then list all of the organizations that you are associated with and certifications that you have earned. There are other sections that you might also find useful. To add additional sections, go to Profile, Edit Profile in LinkedIn and then click the Add sections button displayed directly above the Summary section.
  • Add Websites. You can add up to three websites in the Additional Information section. When adding websites (which you can do by selecting Edit Profile) don’t use the default Company Website heading, instead change it to Other and then type the name of your club in the second box and then the URL in the last box. This way you’ll see the name of the link in the list which is more descriptive then just “Company Website.” You may want to use the other two website listings to display previous clubs’ websites.
  • Share Your Interests. In the Additional Information section of the Profile list your professional and personal interests. I like to add personal interests because it helps you connect with contacts who may not know you have something else in common.
  • Groups and Associations. Join useful LinkedIn groups such as CMAA and your local CMAA Chapter. Search for LinkedIn groups to join (click the Groups drop down box in the Search box located in upper right corner on the LinkedIn window) or look at groups that your colleagues have joined since the groups are listed in your colleagues’ profiles. Some groups are public and you can join them instantly. Other groups are public but the member must be approved by the group manager. There are private groups that you will only be able to see if you are invited to join. Show your interest in your industry by joining hospitality industry-specific groups which will be displayed in your Profile. Listen to what the groups are “discussing” and contribute to those discussions to build your online presence and establish yourself as an expert in the industry.
  • Add Applications. If you have extra time on your hands and want to add additional information to your profile, you can experiment with additional applications such as SlideShare Presentations or Google Presentations to upload presentations about your club or professional skills and experience; Reading List by Amazon to share your favorite business and leadership reads, or Box.net Files to upload and share your resume on your LinkedIn Profile page. These applications display at the end of your Profile. You access them by selecting Add an application at the end of your Profile (you have to be in Edit Profile mode). Add additional applications by clicking More on the LinkedIn menu and then selecting Get More Applications.

Find Connections

The main reasons to use LinkedIn are to connect and communicate with colleagues and share your work experiences online. Please find trusted colleagues to connect to – don’t connect to everyone and anyone. And, don’t just connect to someone because they invited you. View their Profile to determine if the connection is mutually beneficial. The quality of your LinkedIn account is based on the quality of your connections; in other words, it is about the quality, not the quantity of your connections.

To find people to connect to, click in the People Search box ( upper right corner of the LinkedIn window) and enter colleague names. You can then invite them to connect via LinkedIn. You can accept the default text in the connection message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” but I prefer a more personalized message such as “Carl, I hope all is well at Happy Trails Country Club. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Use the Advanced search feature to narrow your people searches based on a wide range of filters (such as Industry, Groups, Relationships, and Company). Click Advanced next to the Search box in the upper right corner of the LinkedIn window to view available filters.

You can also find connections by clicking on Add Connections under Contacts on the LinkedIn menu. This allows you to find connections (see the four different tabs) via your email contacts, your colleagues (others that work for your current and previous employers, alumni, and people you may know (suggestions based on your profile and existing network connections).

I mentioned it earlier but it bears repeating: Only connect to people you know/trust – it isn’t about the sheer number of connections, it is about the quality of those connections – remember, you are judged by the “company you keep.”

Continue to build your connections every time you access LinkedIn and update your profile. Don’t stop networking just because you’ve found a new position. Make updating your profile, and searching and communicating with your connections, an ongoing habit.

Acquire Recommendations – The Holy Grail of LinkedIn

The best part of LinkedIn for job seekers and recruiters alike, are recommendations.  These are valuable references for potential employers and business associates. Target close, valued colleagues who you have actually worked with to request a recommendation. LinkedIn Recommendations carry a lot of weight. They can be posted from board members, board presidents, committee members, employees, and other colleagues with whom you have worked directly.

LinkedIn will not show your Profile is 100% complete until you have at least 3 recommendations listed in your Profile.

There are several ways to request a recommendation. One way is to go to ProfileRecommendations, and click Request Recommendations. You can request any of your first level connections to make a recommendation. Follow steps 1, 2, and 3 and then click the Send button.

I recommend making the message more personal than the default which is “I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks in advance for helping me out.” How boring and impersonal! You should put some effort into this request since the recipient will need to put forth some effort to write it. When requesting a recommendation it is helpful to include suggestions such as a certain project that you worked on together or specific skills you want to showcase.

When a connection posts a recommendation, you will be notified by email. You will want to accept the recommendation to make it part of your profile. LinkedIn will ask if you want to reciprocate so be sure that you ask for recommendations from people you wouldn’t mind writing recommendations for!

A Few More Helpful Tips

Be sure to update your LinkedIn profile regularly. This action sends a status update to your LinkedIn network. At the very least, update the profile every three months.

You can use your LinkedIn Profile as a resource for your next job search. One GM, who developed a very comprehensive LinkedIn Profile including multiple recommendations, printed his Profile and shared it with the Search Committee of a club that he was interviewing with. The Search Committee was blown away by the depth and amount of detail and said no other candidate provided that level of information and depth of references.

To print your Profile, view it (Select ProfileView Profile) and then click the SharePDF or Print button displayed directly above the Summary section. The “Share” option will send the profile to a connection via LinkedIn, the “PDF” option will allow you to save the Profile as a PDF file and the “Print” option will send the Profile to your printer. I recommend using the PDF option so you can save a version and send it as an attachment via email or print it from the PDF format.

You end up with a PDF document that is a nicely formatted, comprehensive listing of your online Profile page. The PDF file includes your Headline, Summary and Specialties, Experience, Certifications and Organizations (if you added these sections), Skills, Education, Interest, and Recommendations.

With their permission, I’ve included a few links to four GMs who have comprehensive and effective LinkedIn Profiles.

Chris Boettcher’s LinkedIn Profile
David Cecil’s LinkedIn Profile
Ian Fetigan’s LinkedIn Profile
Walther Vliegen’s LinkedIn Profile

Take the time to visit their Profile pages and then use the tips above to create or modify your own LinkedIn Profile. Don’t wait until you are looking for a new position to do it. Set aside time now to create and modify your Profile into an effective business communication tool. Use LinkedIn to build your brand – YOU – and connect with your growing professional network of colleagues.

IMPORTANT – Before You Update Your Profile, Do This

If you already have a profile and are planning to update it, I recommend turning off your activity broadcasts and changing who can see your activity feed. Otherwise everyone you are connected to will be notified that you are making significant changes to your profile. It might be misconstrued that you are currently looking for a new position. There are search software services out there that notify their clients when one of the client’s LinkedIn connections makes changes to his/her profile. For example, one GM made several changes to his profile and a member, who is in the executive search business, was automatically notified by a company called “Bullhorn Reach” that “Based on their activity, the following people may be considering a career move.” The GM was in the list of those “considering a career move.” Fortunately he wasn’t considering a career move and explained to the member that he was updating his profile based on this article.

To turn off activity broadcasts and select who can see your activity feed, hover your mouse over your name in the upper right corner and then select Settings. Under the Privacy Controls section, midway down the page, click Turn on/off your activity broadcasts, and then uncheck the box and clickSave changes. Next, click Select who can see your activity feed, and then click the drop down arrow and select Only you, and then Save changes.

Reviewing this article may have raised additional questions about using LinkedIn. Unfortunately I simply didn’t have room to discuss all of the details of this powerful online network, nor do I know everything there is to know about the service (LinkedIn changes daily!). If you have questions, feel free to email me. I will probably run a future article with more LinkedIn tips.

Also, if you have handy LinkedIn tips you would like to share, contact me so that I can share them in a future article. I can be reached via email or via LinkedIn. – LC

Other Helpful Links

LinkedIn’s Starter Guide
Great article on What Recruiters Look for in a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn Learning Center

Lisa Carroll Lisa Carroll is a Search Executive and Relationship Manager at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement (www.kkandw.com) performing Assistant General Manager and Executive Chef searches. Through Carroll Quality Alliance, LLC, she Promoties Quality of Business and Quality of Life through technology and communications training (www.carrollquality.com). She facilitates CMI workshops at CMAA World Conferences and Chapters meetings and provides training and consulting services for Club staff.

Additional Source: Karin Durkee Karin Durkee, Military to Civilian Employment Services with Corporate Gray, manages social media programs to assist military-experienced job seekers in their career transitions and helps connect them to “military friendly” employers. Corporate Gray connects employers with transitioning and former military personnel. Karin is a social media guru, a fellow ukulele player, and my dearest (and only) sister.