Building and maintaining your professional brand on social media can sometimes be tricky without the relevant know–how and experience. I thought I would therefore “shed some light” with regards to the in and outs and the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn, (laughs to her herself) something us fellow South Africans view as a luxury with all the numerous power outages experienced in and around South Africa nowadays… getting back to my point now…
A professional and up-to-date LinkedIn Profile really does make a difference and has a real impact on your professional brand, current job opportunities available to you in the employment market as well as business opportunities out there. Do not underestimate the importance of LinkedIn, as it always has and shall continue to be a real game changer in the market when it comes to professional social media.
Your LinkedIn profile, it’s look and feel as well as its contents (including your profile picture) is an important deciding factor taken into account as to whether connections choose to interact with you or not. Your profile should have details with regards to the following:
- Names of the current as well as the past organisations that you have been employed at – if you can include the company logo on the right of the description this really does look professional.
- Full Job Title – always advise which team you are part of and more specially to the legal market indicate if you are an Mergers & Acquisitions Associate, Banking & Finance Associate, or Legal Compliance Manager, Head of Legal, 2IC to Company Secretary. This really does prove useful when your name comes about in search results. At a glance connections can make sense of your experience and where you are placed within the legal market. Always ensure that your job title is correct and has all the most important details. Hint: Recruitment Agents are always head-hunting for top tier talent with experience and should your profile not speak our language or does not appear in full because we are not first degree connections, we may very well look right past your profile and I am sure you would agree that this would be most unfortunate just because of a lack of information available! A full job title will increase your visibility in LinkedIn and in search engines like Google.
- Years worked at your past organisations – always remember to include both month and year.
- In the “summary” section, this is your opportunity to tell your story and differentiate yourself from other professionals in the market. It should help to give a first time viewer of your profile a snapshot of who you are and what your purpose is. You may also want to include your e-mail address in the summary so that others can connect with you even if you do not have the same connections in your network, taking into account that LinkedIn requires an e-mail address to connect.
- The “experience” section is one of the MOST important sections. Take the time to list all your details with regards to your past and current experience gained as well as your skills and abilities. For this to be effective rather provide examples of projects completed as opposed to just listing skills descriptors.
- Be sure to include links to articles that you have written. This shows that you have the ability to do more than just your 9 to 5 responsibilities and will solidify a potential connectors opinion of your profile.
- Always include your interests whatever they may be. After all business is based on relationships and should your latest connection be a horse lover as well as yourself it may just be your perfect in. We want to connect with others and share our passions and interests so never forget to add a little pizazz to your professional profile while still keeping it formal and relevant.
- Always ensure that you include up to date contact details such as an e-mail address and cell phone number.
- Activity (status updates) on LinkedIn should always be relevant, interesting and professional. No one wants to have their news feed spammed by your last dinner update. Always remember LinkedIn should not be used as another Facebook account.
- Ensure that your LinkedIn profile URL is customised to include your name in the web address. This looks more professional and is easier found on Google.
- Profile pictures should be a professional shot (not from your year-end dress up party), a close up, preferably head and shoulders in smart business attire. You should look the part and most of all project an approachable image. No pouting selfies or over the top make-up on LinkedIn, a simple smile with a touch of make-up shall do.
Taking the above tips into account, always take note of the different social media platforms available and how to best use them to build your personal and professional brand.
Claire Vogelpath-De Iongh, Managing Director, Vogelpath-De Iongh Legal Recruitment Consultancy.