January 28th, 2011 | 6:00 am

LinkedIn Lessons: 10 Ways to Stand Out and Level the Playing Field

filed under Networking

judylindenbergerContributed by Judy Lindenberger

I love LinkedIn. It’s one of the best networking tools out there to help you expand your reach. It’s “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” for the business world. But it can be a big, foreign maze. To stand out in the LinkedIn crowd, here are ten quick tips:

1. To increase your Google search rankings, make your LinkedIn profile 100% complete.
2. Brand yourself by using a professional headshot that’s also on your website.
3. In the “Specialties” box, list keywords that will help people find you.
4. Don’t just cut and paste your resume – use short sound-bites that get your readers’ attention.
5. Update your status regularly by adding articles and blog posts you have written, awards you have won, promotions you have earned, or, if you are looking for a job, let people know exactly what you are looking for so it’s easy for them to help you.
6. Include links to your website, blog and twitter account.
7. Put your phone number and email address in the “Summary” section at the top of your profile for quick contact.
8. Be open to invitations to connect with new people.
9. Get involved in groups and discussions by asking thought-provoking questions, answering questions, and sharing interesting information.
10. Get and give recommendations.

But speaking of recommendations – keep in mind that the words people choose to describe you could hurt your chances. Here’s why.

Researchers from Rice University recently analyzed over 600 letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation for both women and men used positive words; however, communal words such as helpful, kind, sympathetic, tactful and agreeable, and behaviors such as taking direction well and maintaining relationships were more often used to describe women, while agentic words such as confident, ambitious, forceful, independent, and intellectual, and behaviors such as speaking assertively and influencing others were more often used for men. There was no difference in the gender of the letter writer – both men and women used more communal words when describing women than they did for men.

Here is the interesting part. When men and women reviewers were asked to rate the strength of the letters, the researchers found that letters with communal words were ranked lower than letters with agentic words.

After learning this, I went to my LinkedIn profile and scanned the words on my recommendations. Phrases that I thought were great before, like “very accommodating” and “excellent listener,” suddenly sounded quite different to me. Instead, I wished to be described as decisive, smart, and a leader. Let’s level the playing field for men and women by carefully choosing the words you use to recommend others.

Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ.

12 comments

  1. Tweets that mention LinkedIn Lessons: 10 Ways to Stand Out and Level the Playing Field » The Glass Hammer -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Sharp, TheGlassHammer, Karen Keller, Kim Rundle, Hello_Ladies and others. Hello_Ladies said: RT @theglasshammer: LinkedIn Lessons: 10 Ways to Stand Out and Level the Playing Field http://bit.ly/fNlYt2 [...]

  2. Top 10 Tips on Getting an Internship & Job « An Advice A Day

    [...] doesn’t mean you abuse your networks. It doesn’t mean you write the same letter to all of your LinkedIn (good article on how to best use it) friends or Alumni connections. It doesn’t mean you ONLY turn to them when you need a hand [...]

  3. Bill Goad

    Judy,
    This was awesome. I never thought of this before, but it does mean that words make a difference. It makes me think why Wal-Mart took off and is the leading employer in the world and some of the other retailers who used to be the same size as WM, now pale in comparison.

    Very good blog and please keep these coming…….. they are great!

  4. Greg Uhrlen

    Hi Judy,

    Even though there have been many changes in the workplace in the past 20+ years since I entered the business world, there is one particular change that hasn’t occurred as fast as others. Strong women are still viewed in a negative light by many employers. The stereotypical derogatory terms are still used to describe them and are used in many cases by other women. Perhaps this is another glass ceiling that needs shattered.

  5. dinny lansdowne

    Hi Judy,
    Excellent article! Thank you for highlighting the importance of language – including your own awareness and new perception around the words used to describe you. Your article helped me to see why I was so delighted when described as “relentless” in assisting a client to get to her core business mission.

    With the new media available, crafting our personal brand is more important than ever. How we communicate our own strengths is often reflected back to us. In working with entrepreneurial clients to develop their branding strategy, I often find there are many times when clients can ‘pre-pave’the direction and tone of testimonials, introductions, referrals etc. – just be asking or providing samples. Offered in the right way, it saves the writer time without appearing “pushy”. Since everyone is so busy, they frequently appreciate being given some examples of what you are looking for. Not always but very often.

    This is a great thread to continue to dialogue about. It’s key to my work and I would be interested in seeing more on this topic. Thanks!

  6. Judy Lindenberger

    Hi all, this is my first post to The Glass Hammer and I am thrilled to get your responses.

    I thought the research at Rice University was fascinating and hope that recruiters and hiring managers will consider this when making employment decisions.

  7. Jason Womack

    What is the #1 MOST important thing about a LinkedIn profile?

    According to this article, it may surprise some people. It surprised me…

    http://nomorenylons.com/profile/

    It’s a PICTURE!

    Jodi Womack, founder of No More Nylons: Women’s Business Social found this the other day, and immediately reached out to ALL her clients, friends and colleagues…

  8. Pat

    Wonderful advice – especially for women! Thanks!

  9. FrederickL

    A great read on a similar subject that a friend of mine recently suggested me is “How to hire the perfect employer”. It shows you how to find the perfect job based on your talents, how to find organizations that both want you and need you… http://tinyurl.com/4b2okwj

  10. Frankie

    Thanks! Im never good with the whole Social network thing, but this helps!

  11. Lynn Brown

    Thanks for sharing these great tips Judy about Linkedin and how important our profiles are. Very interesting research on the verbiage women use vs. men. Never realized this so I will be revisiting my profiles to be sure to start including those agentic words!

  12. Frank Sonnenberg

    Great advice Judy. I especially liked your thoughts regarding recommendations. I’m so glad I read this. You learn something new every day. I’ll have to check out your other posts.