In the first LinkedIn masterclass we learned about the importance of creating a standout profile to showcase professional expertise within the 380 million strong global community.
Part 2 steps it up with a focus on creating a customised, consistent social presence and amplifying reach by adding in other channels. We’ll also learn how a LinkedIn profile helps keeps your digital nose clean and push you up the Google ranks, pivotal for Online Reputation Management (ORM).
Claim your LinkedIn ‘vanity URL’
First up, let’s make sure you have a consistent online name.
When you first set up a LinkedIn profile you get a default address (also called an URL) that looks something like this – au.linkedin.com/in/janesmith76587. It shows what country you’re in and a name followed by a random string of numbers.
You need to get rid of the messy numbers and create a URL that is as close as possible to your real name. On LinkedIn, this is called your ‘vanity URL’.
Given that millions use LinkedIn common names are not always available so try variations that include middle initials or putting your surname first. Whatever combination you settle on must be easily identifiable, because you want your profile to be found.
It’s easy to change, just edit your Profile.
1. Move your cursor over Profile in the menu at the top of your LinkedIn page and select Edit Profile.
2. Under your profile photo on the left hand side you’ll see a URL, mine is shown here as https://au.linkedin.com/in/dionnelew but yours is likely to have the default formatting. Look for the Settings icon next to it, which looks like a little grey wheel.
3. A pop-up message ‘Update your public profile settings appears as you scroll over, click the wheel.
4. It will open to a page that says Your public profile URLon the right hand side with a pen icon for editing.
5. Click the pen icon, you can then change the highlighted text in the box. Add your name without spaces, symbols or special characters, whether you use upper or lower case doesn’t matter.
6. Remember to Save. Adding a LinkedIn URL to your email signature or on other collateral is a great way to direct people to your profile.
Why professionals need an online presence
It’s been said that the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google. That’s because if you’re not on page 1 of search results you don’t exist. Is it important to exist online? It’s vital.
A digital footprint is part of who you are. When we want to find someone we hit the web. There are over a trillion searches on Google a year, not counting the other search engines and 56% of people Google themselves. Over time for example, if you’re a not-for-profit leader in clean water, publish and comment on this and your name comes up in association with these terms. You want this, it validates expertise and gives others with a way to find you. This can considerably increase your chances of being recruited into international positions or onto boards, a foot in the door after which your genuine experience can be authenticated.
There is as ever a dark side. We form views of people, products or services via reviews, referrals and other online data. If someone says negative things that are untrue or old but comes up first, that’s how you’ll be viewed.
You can’t erase your online history, but you can manage it. That said in 2014 the European court ruled people had a ‘right to be forgotten’ and Europeans can demand search engines remove links to accurate information. French regulators are now demanding search engines censor results in the US, not just Europe and some claim this is a huge threat to an open internet.
Hot legal issues aside, individuals can manage ORM with digital and social assets that generate content and links they want to be known for and which drives them up the ranks.
But how do you get onto to page 1?
Companies spend lots of money to build and optimise websites (called ‘search engine optimisation’) with keywords, valid links, PR and marketing, but individuals don’t usually have these resources at their disposal.
This is where social media profiles come into their own. When you create a LinkedIn profile, a public version is included in the member directory and can be found by search engines.
Customise your public profile
It’s up to you, however, to decide what people who are not in your network see. On LinkedIn, you can show as much or little as you want to the general public.
You may be happy for me as a colleague to see a photo because LinkedIn will know who I am and that I am looking at you, but not as happy for a curious member of the public to see what you look like.
To customise what people see go through steps 1, 2 and 3 to your Public Profile Settings and scroll down to Customise your Public Profile.
1. Customise your Public Profile
2. You can make the profile visible to no one or everyone. There’s little point having a hidden profile if you’re using LinkedIn for professional branding but you might want to take it offline to create it or if you want a break for personal reasons.
3.LinkedIn basics are included by default. Tick to include pictures, headlines, websites, posts, etc. as you prefer.
Amplify your presence by integrating Twitter and WeChat
Ramp it up by connecting other social media channels like Twitter and WeChat messenger directly into LinkedIn. This extends your presence, creates consistency and saves time as you can automatically share what you do on LinkedIn outside the platform, reaching a far greater audience.
Establishing a social media ecosystem (combination of social media channels like LinkedIn with Facebook and Twitter, or WeChat with Pinterest and Instagram, depending on what works best personally for and in your industry) takes work, but once set up it means that one action – a post, a comment, a share – can get huge reach with just a click.
Twitter is a microblog that allows you to share 140-character messages with links to photos or articles. It’s the only truly open, global platform and I believe critical for extending professional reach beyond ‘known’ friend-of-friend style networks.
WeChat is a messaging app with apps for commerce, social and gaming built into it, 10 million third-party apps in fact. It’s huge in China and less understood in the West but very powerful, with 500 million users and growing. On WeChat I can lean over, scan the barcode on the biscuits that I just finished on my desk and because my digital wallet is built in, order biscuits which will be delivered to me the next day.
For those who do business around the globe, the integration allows networking across all channels, magnifying a professional or business presence.
1. To integrate Twitter and WeChat go to your photo (I trust you changed the default avatar) on the right-hand side of your page and hover, a menu will drop down that allows you to select Privacy and Settings. As a security measure, LinkedIn prompts for a password when you alter Settings.
2. In the Settings menu on the right, you can Manage your Twitter settings or Manage your WeChat settings.
3. Let’s start with Twitter. Click <strong “>Manage your Twitter settings.
4. LinkedIn will show any Twitter profiles already connected, add others or delete a profile here and remember to tick atAccount Visibility box.
5. Click the green plus sign, the API will automatically open a screen asking you to authorise the app. Click Authorise App>.
6. Now click Manage your WeChat settings.
7. A window opens with the green plus sign, add WeChat with the QR code provided to you when you download the messenger app.
8. On your smartphone, scan the barcode using the WeChat app, LinkedIn will send your name and profile URL to WeChat and connect them.
A vanity URL and tailored public profile will enhance your professional image; integrating Twitter and WeChat if you have them will further amplify reach.
In the next session well learn to enrich a profile with media, documents and what content marketing authority Trevor Young calls the ‘quiet giant’ of the social web, Slideshare.
We’ll also look at how to keep your profile uncluttered and in line with industry regulations and legal obligations by properly managing recommendations and endorsements, those thumbs-ups you’ve no doubt received from people you’ve never seen in your life.
Should you accept them? Probably not. I’ll tell you why in the next masterclass.
Dionne Lew is the CEO of the Social Executive, an adviser to boards and senior executives on digital and social media rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred.