LinkedIn co-creator tells how to avoid fatal flaws in your profile

Reid Hoffman, who co-founded the go-to professional network, recently revealed the biggest mistakes he sees users making. Here’s a summary—and what you can do to correct them.

If you truly want to craft a killer LinkedIn profile, the guy who helped create the world’s largest social network for professionals has a few tips.

In a video interview, LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman shared the biggest missteps he sees users making with their LinkedIn profiles.

What follows are four specific tips Hoffman says will help distinguish your LinkedIn profile from the rest of the pack on the network. Given that LinkedIn now has roughly 435 million members in 200 countries, that’s quite a pack.

Tip 1: Get found.

“We live in a networked age. So what’s your strategy for being found?” Hoffman asks during the video interview. “Someone might be looking for you—your product, your specific skill set. Be able to be found.”

The more completely you fill out your profile, Hoffman says, and the more information it contains about who you are and what you do for others, the better chance you have of being discovered on the network.

Tip 2: Have a goal.

“You should have a goal for your profile,” Hoffman says. “With my profile, I look at who I want to target and have my profile appeal to.”

Hoffman goes on to share one on of my favorite tips-to make your profile what I call “client-facing”—meaning it’s written in a way that appeals directly to your ideal employer, client or customer.

The key is this: It’s not as much about listing out your work history and job duties like a résumé as it is showing how you can help your ideal customer or employer achieve his or her professional goals via the products, services or skill sets you provide.

“Have your profile written from a viewpoint [that appeals to] the people searching for or reading your profile,” Hoffman adds. “They read it and think, ‘Oh, [you’re] someone I want to talk to.'”

Tip 3: Be unique.

Although LinkedIn is a “professional,” suit-and-tie type social network, you don’t have to scrub all traces of personality and individuality from your profile page, photos or posts.

No matter what type of product or service you provide, people still want to work with other people. As a result, we naturally gravitate toward hiring and partnering with people we know, like and trust.

If your LinkedIn profile is a faceless avatar with no information beyond a dry description of the job duties you perform or services you provide, it will be difficult to bridge that gap with potential customers and business partners.

“What things are uniquely you?” Hoffman asks. “You can put in your hobbies, but it’s not so much those personal things even as it is some genuine expression of what kind of work you do, what you’re an expert in, the kind of things you’re interested in.”

Tip 4: Get social proof.

Some of the most underused and undervalued tools on LinkedIn, Hoffman says, are endorsements and recommendations.

Because LinkedIn requires users to attach their real name, face and profile page with any endorsement or recommendation they give someone, it reduces the likelihood of fake testimonials.

“That is a very useful thing,” Hoffman says. “There is an incentive for people not to lie in public.”

When you endorse someone or write a recommendation for another person on LinkedIn, the whole world sees your name, face and public information attached to it.

“When someone is looking at your profile, and is looking to present you with an opportunity, they are going to see that you are someone they want to talk to,” Hoffman says. “Because it’s not just you saying that you’re good at something—other people are saying it, too.”

So, if you haven’t done so already, now would be a good time to take Hoffman’s advice and start putting these tips into action.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn. (Image via)


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