Whether you’re looking for a job, searching for freelance clients or promoting a business, LinkedIn is an ideal place to start. Some people, myself included, have neglected LinkedIn for the more popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. But recently, I’ve started spending more time at LinkedIn and have been kicking myself for not recognizing it’s potential for reaching my market sooner.
LinkedIn offers something most other social networks don’t and that is room to create fleshed out profiles with a focus on building professional connections. But like other social networks, the number of connections can get unwieldy fairly quickly, making it difficult to find people unless you search them specifically. That means, if someone is looking to hire in your industry, he might miss you if he doesn’t know your name. Fortunately, employers can also search connections by industry and job, which means they can easily find you through a search if you’ve optimized your profile with keywords related to your job and industry.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile starts with knowing the keywords potential employers and clients use to find people who do what you do. If you’re a freelance writer, then “freelance writer” is a keyword. But if you specialize, such as freelance copywriting or freelance web writer, then you want to use those words. If you’re stuck, use a keyword tool to help you find the popular words and phrases used by your market. Google has recently terminated its free tool, but you can try SEO Book Keyword tool, which requires registration, but is free.
Once you have a list of keywords and phrases, you want to use them in your profile on LinkedIn. Here are the best places to use your keywords.
1) Headline: The headline appears right after your name. Some people write a tagline, but you can get more mileage out of the space by using keyword descriptions. For example, “Freelance Copywriter, Direct Mail Expert, and Online Marketing Strategist.”
2) Summary: You get 2000 words to entice potential employers, clients and customers. It’s a lot of space, but don’t waste it with a list of your accomplishments. Instead, weave your keywords and phrases into a summary that shares your brand value and benefits.
3) Current Work Experience: Like a resume, your LinkedIn profile offers potential employers and clients the opportunity to see what you’re doing now. If possible, use your keywords in the headers and text areas of your work experience. Instead of just providing your current employer or client name, also include a keyword. For example, “Acme Business Co: Freelance Copywriter and Direct Sales Consultant”
4) Past Work Experience: Fill out your past work experience the same as you would your current experience, using the keywords you want to be known for in the headers and text areas, if possible.
5) Skills: This is one of the best places to use your keywords, because you can easily use tightly niched keywords to attract your target market. For example, you can have “freelance writer”, but if you want to work specifically in the fitness market, you can have “fitness freelance writer”.
6) Interests: Although you might think this is for listing your off-hours hobbies, it’s a great place to list your keywords, assuming you like the work you do.
LinkedIn is all about professional networking, but as the network grows, so does the chances that you will get lost in the crowd. You can help potential employers or clients find you by using the keywords that define your work in your profile.
Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She speaks regularly on career-related topics including telecommuting and home business.