Many C-level executives tell me they have a LinkedIn profile but don’t really do anything with it. Other CxOs share they don’t even have a profile. Concerns range from simple lack of time or interest to privacy concerns.
I think the main issue is lack of understanding relative to value. Many executives simply don’t see how LinkedIn can benefit them. But there IS value in having a LinkedIn profile if you are a top executive. Below are several ideas and tips for leveraging those benefits:
Adjust Your Privacy & Settings
First, if you are concerned about privacy, in the security settings of your profile, you can change the setting for “Select who can see your connections” to “Only you.”
This way, your company and your competition cannot see who you are connected to. And if you wish to connect with others that may raise an eyebrow or two within your team (top-retained recruiters—or even your competition), no one can view your connections except for you.
It’s a good idea to have an email—and maybe even a phone number—at the very beginning of the Summary statement. This ensures that people who may be visiting your profile can reach out to you, even if they may be outside of your first- or second-degree network of connections. If you are open to new opportunities, there is no reason to broadcast it, since you can very easily give someone a way to reach out to you!
Privacy tip: set up a new Gmail account with a variation of your name or something that is business-friendly, and use that email in your LinkedIn Summary statement.
When deciding on your keyword headings, think about what a recruiter or other key decision maker might be looking for when searching for someone like you. An advanced degree, splashy award, high-level certification, or size/scope information, such as “Fortune 500 Companies,” “Fast Growth Start-Ups,” Board Member,” or “International Expansions.” If you are looking to change industries, think of how broad your industry choice can be without looking as if you are searching for another opportunity.
Depth & Breadth
Most resume writers agree that LinkedIn profiles are best written in first-person informal. Generally speaking, the details in your profile should not be covered as thoroughly as they are in your executive resume. A good rule of thumb is to add just enough detail to create intrigue. Your profile should never, in my professional opinion, broadcast that you are looking for another opportunity. LinkedIn seems to work best for establishing thought leadership and to expand your network into specific areas.
Expand Your Network
When you expand your network with recruiters and key decision makers across a few industries and divisions, you are creating a network that can be leveraged. For example, a few years ago my husband was complaining that his LinkedIn connections were almost nonexistent. He is in the wine business, so I suggested he find those in “his tribe” through direct searches and LinkedIn groups and invite them into his network. Within 45 days my husband had more than 400 of the most powerful global connections of suppliers, distributors, wineries, vintners, wine-recruiters, HR directors, and high-profile critics in the wine industry. He regularly receives important information and job solicitations now through his LinkedIn profile.
Have your read an insightful industry article in Forbes that you agree with? Did you recently attend—or even better—speak at an industry conference? Attend or help lead a community event? Why not share that in your activity broadcast? Articles are another great way to share your insight; including pictures or videos will make them more clickable. Remember to keep it all business! This is an excellent way to solidify your brand and thought leadership within your network.
Although there are many other optimization and design tips that are important to know, these tips are great starting points to get you using LinkedIn as a tool that will give you market leverage and solidify your branding message.