With 810 million users on LinkedIn, the leading professional networking site is an important resource for career growth. It is not only the top tool for showcasing your experience and expertise, but it’s also a powerful search engine for exploring new opportunities, a place to join groups and attend events, and a great way to build your professional brand.
Historically, brands have represented companies, executives, celebrities, and athletes, but social media has changed that. By design — or default — everyone now has a personal brand, and this starts with how you are perceived online. People are making judgments and assumptions about who you are before meeting you in person.
There are two parts to your personal brand.
It’s your reputation: what you want to accomplish, be known for, and leave behind.
It’s a strategy: a roadmap for achieving your career and professional goals.
A personal brand helps you:
- Showcase your skills, experience, and expertise
- Articulate your mission and vision
- Align your professional values and interests with companies and organizations you want to serve
- Build the relationships you need to advance your career journey
- Promote yourself to key audiences who can help advance your goals
When it comes to hiring, 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find new candidates. So your LinkedIn profile needs to amplify your professional brand to help you stand out from others in the Accounting and Finance profession. Here are a few tips for elevating your digital presence on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a powerful search engine driven by search engine optimization (SEO). SEO, or relevant keywords, is the leading reason why people are found on LinkedIn. Using keywords helps drive targeted, high-volume traffic to your page.
When you power up your profile’s SEO, you increase your odds of being discovered not just by members on LinkedIn but also in relevant web searches, such as Google. LinkedIn is one of the top five sites that Google indexes regularly, which makes completing your profile and applying SEO best practices critical for better search visibility.
There are several ways to find and strategically place keywords specific to Accounting and Finance throughout your entire profile. You can borrow from the best and look at your professional community.
Check out influencers and thought leaders (people who frequently talk about and tag Accounting and Finance issues, trends and news), colleagues within your company (and competitors), and mentors or coaches you may have worked with in the past. Perusing their profiles can quickly show you which words are used frequently in the Headline, About, and Skills sections. You can also scan for key industry terms on Accounting and Finance Company pages and open job postings.
Update Your Profile
Profiles with strong stories and complete information can amplify your reach and impact significantly. All the information on your page should be current and updated regularly. But, it’s important to understand that LinkedIn is not a resume and shouldn’t be treated like one. LinkedIn is a dedicated space to tell your professional story. Therefore, your profile should be written in first-person narration.
As a networking platform, it’s awkward to have your profile written in the third person because you are the creator of your own account, content, introductions, and connections. Using the first person also emphasizes that you are aware of modern social media best practices and standards. It also shows that you didn’t just upload your resume, and most importantly, it conveys authenticity. Your profile should:
- Be clear, concise, and compelling
- Sound authentic and credible
- Say what you do quickly and clearly
- Highlight your skills and expertise
- Share your passions, interests, and intent (whether for work, networking, and/or helping others)
- Include discoverable keywords for SEO
Start with crafting a powerful Headline. A standout Headline can increase your visibility, credibility, and searchability. Your headline should be short, compelling, and customized to feature industry terms, your role, skills and expertise, and the impact you make.
There is a 220 maximum character count so be direct about what you have to offer. Here are a few examples for Accounting and Finance professionals:
- Example 1: Accounting Services Manager, focused on streamlining processes and moving to cloud-based solutions.
- Example 2: MBA, Controller, Accounting Manager, ERP Business Analyst, Former Big Four Auditor
- Example 3: Accounting Manager | Salesforce & ERP Professional | Accounting & Financial Expert | 3x Salesforce Certified
- Example 4: Chief Financial Officer | Managing Partner | Driving Corporate Value through Capital Raising, Investor Relations, and Business Development
Following your Headline, the About section is prime real estate for featuring your skills, expertise, mission, and interests. Your summary showcases who you are, what you do, why your work matters, and the impact you have made. It should be written in a story format with short paragraphs and limited use of bullets, highlighting your:
- Key skills
- Industry terms for SEO
- Career accomplishments
- Companies with recognizable names
Your summary must be at least 40 words for search engine optimization, and no more than 2,000 characters, which is approximately 350 words or one page of typed content. Only the first few lines are auto displayed on your profile without needing to click See More. You should quickly state what you have to offer and why it’s important. Don’t begin by describing your current role, this is located elsewhere on your profile, and can be referenced later in the summary. It’s best to start with the impact that you’ve made and what drives your motivation.
Your Profile Picture Matters
Profiles with a photo get 21x more views, 9x more requests to connect, and 36x more messages.
Most people will not “link in” with others if they do not have an image, and many HR professionals and recruiters will not consider a candidate without a profile picture. People want to see who you are. It is a standard in using a platform designed for connecting with others, and it’s a potential indicator that a candidate may not be digitally savvy or active if the photo is missing.
Ensure your photo is professional (no baseball caps, sunglasses, or family members), high quality, has good lighting, a neutral background, and is recent.
Your background image is equally important. It should represent your brand, be high quality, and be optimized for the platform. Some good sources of inspiration are:
- Tools of your trade
- Your products or services
- People that you serve
- City landscapes
- Architecture (if you are in a prominent, well-known building)
- Yourself at work
- Causes or missions that you are passionate about
- Solid colors or abstract textures
Know Your Audience
Your brand strategy and messaging should be targeted toward key audiences in need of what you have to offer. In Accounting and Finance, those are:
- Your current and former colleagues and clients
- Specific companies that align with your values, passions, and interests
- The industries in which you serve or have transferable skillsets
- Any organizations, associations, and communities to which you belong
- Thought leaders: the people making an impact in Accounting and Finance and the industries you serve
Identifying your target audience helps you convey how and why you are qualified to serve in particular roles or positions. The point is to think both broadly and deeply about your audiences because you never know where you might make a career connection.
Be Consistent, Authentic, and Credible
Maintaining consistency, authenticity, and credibility on your LinkedIn profile will help you build influence and gain visibility with decision-makers and collaborators who can help advance your professional objectives. Here are a few keys to managing your reputation.
- Understand your profile is your first impression
- Maintain a professional voice and tone
- Avoid grammatical mistakes
- Be true to who you are
- Exercise self-editing and self-restraint
- Evolve as you learn and grow
- Highlight your expertise
- Be transparent, honest, and reliable
- Expand meaningful connections and be a resource
Having a strong digital presence and professional brand is more than building your profile. It’s also expanding your network as a resource who offers others support. The best way to spark connections is by reaching out to people you know with a note of gratitude or by offering to help further their own goals. Thank them for mentoring or helping you in the past. Inquire about their current position and ask how they are doing. Or, offer to assist if you see an acquaintance searching for work or new networking opportunities. You can also send an article or other content that is relevant to Accounting and Finance or another shared area of interest.
The opportunities are endless with a strong LinkedIn profile and professional brand. To raise your visibility and expand your impact, start with updating your profile, applying SEO best practices, maintaining consistency and authenticity, and becoming a resource.
Looking for new opportunities or to elevate your professional brand? Alliance Resource Group can Help!
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