Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fix Your LinkedIn Profile – 7 tips for federal government communicators

Posted by: Britt Ehrhardt, Jan. 22, 2013

More and more feds are on LinkedIn these days. You probably already have a profile. But is it a GREAT profile? A great profile reflects your skill as a communicator. When hiring managers search for you, a great profile helps you get that interview, and that next promotion. Use these 7 tips to make sure you stand out

1. Write a brief, catchy Summary.

The Summary section appears immediately below your picture. It’s your chance to describe what you want from LinkedIn – Job opportunities? Connections to new people in the federal web managers community? Be brief and interesting.

2. You’d better have a good picture.

Really, you must have a good picture. It should be fairly professional: no spaghetti-strap tank tops or ties with cartoon characters. It should be a picture of you looking at the camera, and it should be a picture of your head or head and shoulders: no selfies from crazy angles. I don’t think you have to be in a suit, but you should look polished.

3. Include the appropriate disclaimer on your personal account.

Federal agencies often require that employees add disclaimers to their personal social media accounts. This protects you, and it might help the public understand that you are not communicating officially on behalf of your agency. Read your agency’s social media policy to find out if this is required for you. One way to do this is to insert language like this:
“This is a personal account, and any opinions expressed are mine alone, not those of the federal government, <insert name of your agency>, or the <insert name of your division/sub-agency>.”

4.       Use words that everyone will understand.

Plain language is important. Not only do acronyms and abbreviations make it hard for people to understand what you have accomplished, they also limit your searchability. People simply won’t be able to find you and your special skill set if you clutter your profile with federal alphabet soup. This is especially important when you describe your current and previous jobs in the Experience section.

5.       Join Groups and be active in them.

There are lots of Groups for federal communicators on LinkedIn. FCN operates an active one, and you can ask to join. Look at the profiles of prominent people in your sub-field to identify which Groups are most important. Join those Groups and actively contribute by posting items and commenting on the things others post.

6.       Add contacts.

Your LinkedIn profile will be more helpful to you when you are linked to many people. Just like a Rolodex, it’s more useful full than empty. A few dozen contacts are not enough; shoot for a few hundred. Search for people you work with regularly, and hit that Connect button. Add contacts from your personal email address book, by selecting Add Connections under the Contacts tab. (In my experience, LinkedIn is responsible about how they use the access to your email account that you will grant them.) When you have meaningful interactions with people in real life, note their names and add them on LinkedIn, as well. When you ask to connect to someone, personalize the request with a message relevant to your relationship with that person rather than using the default LinkedIn language. Just don’t spam people you’ve never met by trying to add them to your contacts. That’s frowned on.

7.       Request Recommendations and use other options.

LinkedIn may have added new features since you first signed up. You can now request Recommendations from your contacts, add searchable Skills & Expertise for your contacts to endorse, and add other options. Take advantage of these. A few glowing, one-paragraph recommendations make you seem like a real person. Your viewers will stop scrolling when they are no longer interested: a very long profile is just fine.

What other tricks do you use to make sure your profile is worth finding? Let us know.

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