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What's New on LinkedIn: Custom Profile Backgrounds, Premium Spotlight Accounts, Larger Search Listings, and More

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LinkedIn, the world’s top professional networking site, is constantly evolving, routinely adding and modifying features based on member demand and current industry trends. In this article, My LinkedIn author Patrice-Anne Rutledge introduces LinkedIn’s latest features, including Custom Profile Backgrounds, How You Rank, Larger Search Listings, and LinkedIn Premium Spotlight.
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LinkedIn, the world’s top professional networking site, is constantly evolving, adding, and modifying features based on member demand and current industry trends. In this article, I introduce LinkedIn’s latest features, including Custom Profile Backgrounds, How You Rank, Larger Search Listings, and LinkedIn Premium Spotlight, a low-cost premium account that’s more affordable for members looking to upgrade.

Give Your Profile Some Pizzazz with a Custom Profile Background

Taking a cue from Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn now offers custom profile backgrounds (see Figure 1 for an example). Currently, this feature is available only to premium members, but LinkedIn plans to roll it out to all members within a few months. LinkedIn has enlarged the profile photo for premium members as well.

Figure 1 Brand yourself with a custom LinkedIn profile background

If you’re a free member and don’t have this feature yet, you can sign up for early access at http://specialedition.linkedin.com/custom-backgrounds.

The optimal dimensions for your background are 1400 by 425 pixels. Your image must be in a JPG, PNG, or GIF format and be less than 4 MB in size. If you don't have an image available, you can use one of LinkedIn's ready-made backgrounds, which include abstract images, a computer, a cup of coffee, pencils, and a street scene. Uploading your own custom image, however, is a much better use of this feature.

Although including text and a website URL are acceptable on your background, you should avoid any overt sales pitches just as you would on other areas of LinkedIn.

To add a custom background, click the Edit Background button on the Edit Profile page, as shown in Figure 2, and then either select one of the default backgrounds or upload your own. Be aware that if you upload your own image, part of it is covered by your profile photo and headline. You might have to get creative with your background design to make it fit properly within the space constraints.

Figure 2 Upload your own background or choose one that's ready-made

Make Your Profile Easier to Find with Top Suggested Keywords

To help you optimize your profile with the right keywords and content, LinkedIn now offers keyword suggestions based on your existing profile data. To view your customized suggestions, click the Edit link in the Summary section on the Edit Profile page. LinkedIn displays additional terms in the Optimize Your Profile to Get Found box, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 View LinkedIn's suggestions for relevant keywords and profile content

From here, you can optionally include these terms in your summary content or other sections of your profile. This box also tells you which power keywords your profile already contains. These are terms that are commonly used to search for professionals with your background.

Stand Out from the Crowd with Larger Search Listings

If you have a premium LinkedIn account, your search listing is now larger than those of free members (see Figure 4 for an example), which makes it easier for people to notice you. These new, larger search listings include more information about your current and past job titles and companies. Search for your own name to view your premium listing and make any necessary profile changes to attract your target audience.

Figure 4 More information about you in search listings makes people more likely to view your profile

To be included in larger search listings, you must display a premium badge on your profile. This feature is activated by default when you upgrade to a premium account. If you turned it off, you can easily reactivate it. To do this, click the Edit icon next to the word Premium on the Edit Profile page, select the Premium Profile check box, and click the Save button (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 Let other LinkedIn members know that you have a premium account and be rewarded with larger search listings

Open Your Profile to LinkedIn Members Who Aren’t Your Connections

If you’re open to new networking opportunities, the Open Profile feature makes it easier for other LinkedIn members to contact you. Available to premium members, an open profile enables all LinkedIn members to view your complete profile and to send you messages. LinkedIn lets other members know that you have an open profile by placing the Open Profile icon next to your name in search results (see Figure 6; the Open Profile icon is to the far right).

Figure 6 Identify LinkedIn members who have an open profile with the Open Profile icon

This feature is activated by default, but you can turn it off if you don’t want this visibility. To do so, click the Edit icon next to the word Premium on the Edit Profile page, deselect the Open Profile check box, and click the Save button.

Discover Who’s Viewed Your Profile and How You Rank as Compared to Your Peers

If you have a premium account and use LinkedIn for business, knowing who is viewing your profile and how many profile views you receive as compared to other people is valuable information. LinkedIn now enables you to see a 90-day list of the people who viewed your profile, statistics on your rank compared to your peers (see Figure 7), and a list of your 100 most-viewed connections or fellow employees.

Figure 7 Discover how your profile viewings rank compared to your peers

Keep in mind that if people have requested to keep their profile viewing anonymous, you won’t see their names listed on the Who’s Viewed Your Profile tab. Instead, LinkedIn simply indicates that an anonymous LinkedIn member viewed your profile. You can manage your own profile viewing visibility on the Account & Settings page (click the Select What Others Can See When You’ve Viewed Their Profile link).

If you want to increase your profile views, here are three suggestions:

  • Update your profile summary with popular keywords in your industry. Remember to include these keywords naturally rather than stuffing your summary with the same keywords multiple times. Your profile still needs to be readable and professional to achieve the best results.
  • Participate in relevant groups. Adding insightful commentary to active group discussions can increase your profile views as fellow group members often check out the profiles of people who have something interesting to say.
  • Add key skills to the Skills & Endorsements section on your profile so that people searching for these skills can find you.

Take Control of Your LinkedIn Endorsements

Another new feature is the capability to customize endorsements, which is available to all LinkedIn members. Although many LinkedIn users enjoy giving and receiving endorsements, not all do. If you don’t want to receive endorsements, you can now turn off this feature. To do so, click the Edit link next to the Skills & Endorsements section on the Edit Profile page.

In the Skills and Endorsements box, you can specify whether or not you want to participate in the endorsement process and to what extent. You can also control endorsement email notifications. All of these options are selected by default, so you must turn them off if you want to take advantage of this new feature.

Upgrade to Premium on a Budget with the LinkedIn Premium Spotlight Account

To encourage LinkedIn members to upgrade to premium status, LinkedIn recently announced a low-cost premium account called Premium Spotlight. Priced at $9.99 per month ($7.99 if you choose an annual plan), Premium Spotlight includes features such as Premium Profile, Top Suggested Keywords, How You Rank, Open Profile, and Larger Search Listings.

Summary

LinkedIn’s latest features include a custom background similar to those found on Twitter and Facebook, a keyword suggestion tool to help enhance your profile, larger search listings to make it easier for people to find you, profile comparison rankings, and much more. Because many of these features currently require a premium account, LinkedIn has launched a new premium option, LinkedIn Premium Spotlight to appeal to budget-conscious users.

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