How Do I Improve My LinkedIn Profile?

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update profile

If you are in an Online MBA program, chances are you’re probably also working full-time. Between your schoolwork and your work-work, you probably don’t have a ton of time for social media, other than the stuff you do for fun. But LinkedIn is different. Your LinkedIn profile is essentially a sales tool. On LinkedIn, you get to sell your unique package of skills, abilities, personality, and history to potential employers, partners, or collaborators. And unlike the dancing cat videos and ridiculous memes you like to share on the other social media platforms, your LinkedIn profile can have a big impact on the next phase of your career. And that’s the whole point of going through the MBA program in the first place. Therefore, take some time to improve your LinkedIn profile and make sure it does a good job of reflecting your professional ambitions. Here are several tips that you can utelize to whip your LinkedIn profile into game shape, so to speak.

Start with the headline.

Use the headline feature of your profile to highlight your intended career trajectory. If you don’t want to give off the impression that you’re already further along than you are, use the present continuous tense. Instead of “I want to be/do [job title],” consider “Building a career in [industry] or “Applying lessons in [industry concentration].”

Update skills as you develop them.

Start with the skills you brought with you into your MBA program, and then add different skillsets as you begin to put them into practice. Don’t lie, of course. But don’t sell yourself short, either. If there’s a skill you’ve developed in a volunteer setting and it’s not a part of your “official” job, it still counts if there’s a professional setting where it could be put to good use.

Use assignments to generate portfolio content.

If you’re not a writer, musician, or artist, you might not think of generating content as an important part of your job. However, content is what makes social media work, and LinkedIn is no different. Even if you only do it occasionally, writing articles, sharing photos, or uploading short videos will help your LinkedIn profile stand out and give you an opportunity to network with people in your industry that are interested in similar topics or concentrating on similar pursuits. And if you’re not sure what to talk about, start by talking about the things you’re working on. Use each assignment as a jumping-off point from which you can go in any direction you please. Most importantly, once you create that content, make sure to feature it on your profile so people can easily find it.

Make more connections.

On your LinkedIn profile, the first stat listed after your name, headline, and location is your number of connections. The higher this number is, the more opportunities you’ll get to make or cultivate the right connection. As you meet people in your Online MBA program, make sure to add them, especially your classmates and professors, since they’ll be the ones you interact with most regularly. If you want to kick your connection game up a notch, you can even reach out to authors of the books you read for class. To do so tactfully, identify an idea from the book – or better yet, a quote – that had an impact on you. Mention it when you reach out and express your gratitude or appreciation. If they respond positively, follow up with a connection request.

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Join and list any relevant LinkedIn groups.

Just like Facebook groups, LinkedIn’s group feature is where a lot of people go to exchange ideas and make new connections. Even if you mostly lurk instead of posting yourself, groups are great places to identify the pulse of an organization, what like-minded people are talking about, and what things generate responses from people. Make sure you target groups related to the program you’re in, even if they’re alumni groups. (Don’t lie, of course, but if you want to call yourself an “aspiring alumnus,” I won’t report you to the semantics police.) And once you join these groups – or start one, if you feel like your pursuits are insufficiently represented – make sure to list them in your profile.

Get recommendations.

Use your work experience and the skills you’ve collected over the years to get recommendations, and include recommendations from trusted classmates, professors, or anyone else who might be willing to vouch for you. This is especially useful when you engage in a capstone project, which is often a large-scale project that you take on as part of your coursework in order to demonstrate the business principles and skills you’ve obtained as part of your Online MBA program. Make sure to secure recommendations in skills or abilities in high demand, as those will be the ones that will be on the minds of potential recruiters who view your profile.

Reconsider privacy settings.

One of the useful features of LinkedIn is the ability to signal your desire or openness to a new position. Obviously, whether or not professionals choose to use this feature depends greatly on their current job situation. As mentioned earlier, most Online MBA students are working full-time while they pursue their degrees. And many corporations have tuition reimbursement programs that will pay for your schooling, but the assumption there is that you will take your newfound skills and continue to hone them for your current employer. If you like your current employer and plan on staying for a while, then keeping your profile fresh is useful if something changes, but you don’t need to signal a need for a change.

However, if you are looking for a new position outside of your current employer and you want potential recruiters to know that, it will be useful to change your privacy settings to restrict the ability of people to see that particular employment status indicator. After all, you don’t want it getting back to your boss that you want out.

Don’t neglect the visuals.

Even in what may seem like a boring business context, good visuals still matter. If you can afford it, take a professional headshot from an established photographer. If not, take a selfie behind a neutral background, so there’s nothing detracting from your face. Also, pick an appealing background image. If you’re feeling gung-ho about your Online MBA program, or if you’re getting an MBA from the same place you attended undergrad, there’s nothing wrong with posting a background photo of your favorite school sports program.

Action Plans

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This article is full of tips and plans you can adopt to update your LinkedIn profile. Now it is time to pick the ones you need to attend to, make them specific, give yourself a time limit, and go ahead and set some rewards for yourself when you accomplish them. A little extra motivation can sometimes do the trick. As a recap:

Check your headline.
Continuously update your skills.
Generate content.
Increase your connections.
Join LinkedIn groups.
Secure Recommendations.
Check privacy settings.
Update your photo.

These are just a few ways to revamp your LinkedIn profile as you pursue your Online MBA. Make sure you don’t neglect your LinkedIn profile. It might feel awkward, but it’s the social media profile that could land you the right job. Act accordingly.