Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making Yourself More Visible to Others on LinkedIn

Part 1 of Guerilla Search Tactics on LinkedIn

 LinkedIn is The Sphinx of the social media networks. The (mostly anonymous) people running it tend to make major changes in the interface and features without any announcement, explanation or even instructions. Often, the changes are useful to the average user (improved interface, the ability to follow companies, job search tools, etc.), but sometimes they do something that's obviously designed to make more money, the users be damned.

That's what LinkedIn did October, 2010. In the good ole days (say, the previous September), when you did a People search on LinkedIn, your search results could include 1st level connections, 2nd level connections, 3rd level connections, members of your groups, and either the first name of non-connected people or just their title. For your 1st, 2nd, 3rd level and group connections, you would see their full name and could click on their link and see their full profile. You could search all your groups at once (handy if you belonged to a lot of groups), search for new LinkedIn members, and use other criteria.

Then, without any warning or explanation, LinkedIn began changing search results. 1st and 2nd level connections show up as before, but 3rd level connections and even fellow members of groups often show up with only their first name and last initial. Click on the link to their profile and you still don't see their last name. If you click on the link that says "See Full Name," you get a window which says, in effect, "Either get more connections or cough up $99.95 per month, sucker." LinkedIn also now requires a subscription to search for people using the categories: Groups, Years of Experience, Interested In, Company Size, Fortune 1000, and Recently Joined. (Function and Seniority Level are new paid search categories, too.) So, LinkedIn now has the dubious distinction of being the only social media site that makes it HARDER (or more expensive) to search for other people on their network. (Don't get me started on their pricing policies.)
You might respond, "So what? I don't use the People search that often. I don't try to convert 3rd degree connections into 1st degree connections, either." This may be true, but if you're job hunting, you want hiring managers, freelance HR people, and even old friends TO BE ABLE TO FIND YOU!

That's where these changes really bite you in the ankle. Sure, HR professionals who regularly search on LinkedIn for potential employees will cough up the higher fees to get better search results.  But what about hiring managers who only do occasional searches, small business owners, consultants, freelancers, or people who are unemployed and looking for work?

Fortunately, there are several things you can to do make it easier for others to find and contact you. There are also ways you can search for these missing names, both on LinkedIn and off. In this post we’ll show how you can make yourself more visible on LinkedIn. Then we’ll look at some guerilla techniques for finding other people on LinkedIn.

Make Yourself Easier to Find – Even When LinkedIn is Trying to Hide Your Name
First, make a simple change on your profile. On the LinkedIn menu bar, point at Profile and click on Edit Profile. Then, click on Edit, next to your name. Below your name, you'll see a block for entering your Professional "Headline". All you need to do is repeat your name in this block. Instead of just entering your job title, write something like, "Andrew Brandt writes frequently about his love/hate relationship with LinkedIn." (Better yet, write something appropriate to your profile.) You decide whether to use first or third person in the headline, just be consistent.

Some people do put their email address here, too, although that might be a technical violation of the LinkedIn terms of agreement. I suggest you make your email address prominent somewhere else in your profile. (NOT in your name field, though!) Hiring professionals often like to see email addresses rather than go through LinkedIn with expensive InMails.

After this, go to Settings (on the top right of the page). Under Profile Settings, click on Public Profile. There, select the Full View option (or think carefully if you still want to restrict info on your public profile). You should already have customized your LinkedIn URL to add your name. If not, do it now. Save your changes.

Another way to make sure your full name always shows on your profile is to ask people who are writing recommendations for you on LinkedIn to include your full name in your recommendation. (Most people only use first names.)

(You used to be able to customize the link title to your blog and internet connections with your name, too. LinkedIn, playing cat and mouse with its users, no longer lets you do that.)

If you belong to groups, check your group settings to see if the group name and logo shows up on your LinkedIn profile page. (In the group menu—not the top-of-the-page menu—point at More...  and click on My Settings.) If you want others from the group to be able to find you more easily, click on Display the group logo on my profile. If you belong to 10 different job hunting groups, though, you might not want to show all of them, especially if you're still working. (Your boss might read your profile and not like the idea that you're trying to jump ship!) There might also be a few groups you want to keep private, like that Cat Lovers Who Knit group that doesn't exactly fit your Construction Foreman professional title.

Of course, the best way to make it easier for others to find you on LinkedIn is to have more connections so you show up more frequently as a 1st and 2nd level connection. You don't have to become a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) who accepts any invitation on LinkedIn. (You can bet that open networkers are feeling vindicated nowadays, though, after taking so much heat from LinkedIn.)

If you belong to a group and send an invitation to a even just a couple of LIONs in that group, you'll make it a lot easier for all your group members to find you. (Invite other group members and friends, too.) You should do this, at least, for your professional groups related to your job hunt.
Another way to help HR people find you (especially if you are in a job hunt) is to add the Skills application to your profile. Go to the More menu and select Skills beta. (The beta, or test, indication may come off soon, since it’s been around for some time, now.) Add keyword skills to create a list on your profile. With this list it will be easier for HR people and others to find you based on a search of keywords.

If you want to add optimized search words to your profile (actually, repeating certain keywords in your profile so you show up higher in LinkedIn’s search ranks) you need to first find out which words you should emphasize. Here’s one way to do this:

1. First, find 3 or 4 detailed job descriptions for positions you think would be perfect for you.

2. Copy and paste these descriptions into a single text file. (If you use Word, save the document as a text only file.) Copy this entire file onto your clipboard.

3. Go to the website

4. In the box below where it says, “Paste in a bunch of text:” paste in those job descriptions from your clipboard and press the Go button.

5. This creates a word map, where the most frequently used words (other than “a,” “the,” and the like) are presented most prominently. This gives you a pretty good idea of which keywords are most important in your dream job. Make a list.

6. Make sure those keywords are used frequently in your LinkedIn profile. The top one or two probably should be in your headline. Repeat those and others in your summary and make sure they also show in your Skills section that we described earlier.

7. Do a search for those top job skills with LinkedIn’s Advanced Search tool. If you still don’t show up on the first page, look at profile for the person on the top of the list and count how many times they use the top search terms.

The important thing is NOT to make it look like you’re trying to load up your profile with lots of search terms. Writing style and communication are more important. But this might make it easier for hiring managers to find you on LinkedIn.

Next: Finding Full Names on LinkedIn, even when LinkedIn is hiding them

Keywords: LinkedIn, search, jobhunting, HR, guerilla, keywords, SEO