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    Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile for Virtual Networking

    In this new, mostly virtual world, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting with clients, coworkers, and other industry professionals. Most in-person events have either been cancelled or moved to a virtual space, so we are no longer meeting people face to face, exchanging business cards, and connecting “in real life.” This has made having an up-to-date and complete LinkedIn profile that conveys your skills and experience more important than ever. It will help clients find you, see what you look like, and learn about your expertise prior to an online meeting or interview. Here are some tips for completing your online profile that can help build your personal brand, increase your credibility, and help you connect in a virtual world:

    Add a Headshot and Background Image
    Adding a professional headshot to your LinkedIn profile will increase your chances of getting found, as well as provide a face to your name. If you don’t have a professional headshot, have someone take a professional looking photo against a white or neutral background. You can also add a background image to your profile header. While this is not as important as your headshot, it will make your profile more noticeable.

    Update Your Summary and Experience
    Make sure to add a brief summary and your work history to your LinkedIn profile, especially your current title and role. You can add videos, pictures, and press releases along with current and past roles. Don't forget to add your education, licenses, and certifications, as well as volunteer experience. You can add different sections to your profile by clicking on the “add profile section” to the right of your headshot while you are in the editing screen. Sections include publications, projects, honors and awards, and others.

    Edit Your LinkedIn Profile URL
    Click on "View Profile" and you will see the option "Edit Your Public Profile" on the top right of the screen. Click on this link and you will be able to edit your LinkedIn profile URL. A customized URL will increase your profile ranking on search engines like Google and make it easier for connections to find you.

    Curate the Companies You Follow
    If you’re interested in connecting with certain clients, a good idea is to follow their company page. This way you can keep up with what is going on with their projects and be knowledgeable about their company and expertise. With fewer in-person interactions, this is a good way to stay “in the know.”

    Connect and Engage
    You can still network with people while you’re stuck at home by connecting with clients and coworkers on LinkedIn. Once you’re connected, start to engage by liking and commenting on posts that you find interesting or well done. Ready to take it a step further? Share your own content by creating your own posts or sharing posts from your company page or other pages you find interesting. You might feel uncomfortable with “virtual networking” at first, but, just like everything else, the more you practice the easier it gets!

    Allison Halvorson ([email protected]) is the Communications Manager for McMillen Jacobs Associates, a multidisciplinary firm providing a comprehensive array of technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets. She has over 20 years of broad-based marketing and communications experience.

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