What web site is at the top of an IT professional’s must-know list this year? Sites like Green Grid and Secunia are focused on optimizing and protecting the corporate network, but the New York Times’ top pick is a site that helps the IT professional optimize and protect their career brand — LinkedIn.
The value of networking is highlighted when the job market is unstable. If you’re in transition or think there’s a chance you may end up there, a daily focus on networking is a good habit to create.
This post marks the first in a series on how to get the most out of LinkedIn as a professional networking tool. Over the course of the series, you can expect to learn both basics and best practices for creating a professional presence online.
Creating your profile’s unique LinkedIn URL
By default, new LinkedIn users get a randomly-generated URL address for their public profiles. A standard random URL might look like this:
With a few clicks of the mouse (and a little typing) you can select your own custom URL, which would look more like this:
Easier to remember, easier to share, and therefore more likely to successfully direct someone to your profile.
Changing your URL is easy enough. While logged in, in the left navigation area, click “Edit My Profile” under the Profile header. In the first large profile block, you’ll see a line that says “Public Profile” followed by the current URL location. By clicking “Edit” to the right of the URL, you can select an available, unique URL for your profile.
The slightly harder piece is thinking about how to use the custom URL to manage your online brand. Google and other search engines index LinkedIn profiles, and they typically get good visibility. So, deciding on your URL takes two simple steps:
- Create a LinkedIn URL that will attract traffic. Using your name as your URL is common, and effective, especially if your name is unique or if you believe someone may search for you by name. Or, you can develop a keyword-based URL. Think “ILtechnicalrecruiter” or “freelancecommunicator” or the like. Web traffic is all about being keyword-rich, and the URL is no exception.
- Don’t change it. LinkedIn allows you to change your custom URL, but each time you make a change you’re losing people who may have bookmarked you, and traffic off of search engines. Choose a simple, quality custom URL to begin with and keep it.
That’s it. Simple start, right? You’re already closer to a fully optimized LinkedIn presence.
Watch for upcoming posts as we work our way through creating a profile that represents you professionally, and just might make the connection that leads to your next opportunity.
Update: Want more info on using LinkedIn for your professional networking? Read up with the following articles:
- HowTo LinkedIn #2: Write a killer headline
- HowTo LinkedIn #4: Your professional experience
- HowTo LinkedIn #6: Linking out
- HowTo LinkedIn #7: Take your connections with you
- HowTo LinkedIn #5: Add a photo