9 Advanced Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

The days are far gone where ‘just’ having a LinkedIn profile is enough. Ever since Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 – there’s never been a more crucial time to create and bring to life your digital reputation. This platform is no longer just an internet resume site dangling around with profiles in hopes of opportunities finding you! LinkedIn can be your secret weapon if used properly. Here are 9 tips to get you ahead of the pack.

1. Create an effective background

Yes, I’m referring to that GIANT blue space plopped back behind your profile picture. In the digital world, this space on LinkedIn is your own personal billboard – USE IT! This is where some skills might come into play, tools such as Photoshop, Canva, or stock photo searches like Pixabay can give you design and functionality to your background.

2. Find a powerful tagline that describes who you serve and how

LinkedIn has historically framed the tagline (the statement below your name and profile picture) as a simple place to put your title and company. Sadly, this is very basic. Your tagline is your value proposition to your network. It is a concise way 2 explain who you serve and how you serve them. For example, the tagline for Forrest Unlimited would be “Helping business professionals unearth their potential through LinkedIn.”

3. Write a compelling summary making you sound unique and authentically human

The summary is typically where basic LinkedIn users will write a blurb about their previous jobs perhaps a few skills and what they currently do. However, advanced LinkedIn users will use the summary to tell a captivating story of how they have evolved throughout their career and who they impact. Another way of utilizing the summary is to answer the question as if you’re being interviewed, “…so tell me about yourself?” This question is more powerful than you think, for me it is actually how I landed one of my tech jobs. My boss later told me how I answered it set me apart from other candidates immediately.

4. Sharpen the descriptions in your experience section to align yourself as a subject matter expert

If you’ve never heard the term wordsmithing, then I highly suggest you take time to learn about it briefly. The same way a Blacksmith crafts his tools is the same way we should craft our descriptions. The method we use communicate things can significantly change the impact our digital impression has. Your experience should illuminate the reader’s mind and put them in a visual scene of you in a previous role. What was your day-to-day like? What difficult challenges did you overcome in that role? What skills did you gain from that position? These are just a few questions to answer as you sharpen this section of your profile.

5. Identify the max amount of skills you can honestly list to help with search ranking

LinkedIn gives you 50, find a way to identify all the relevant skills you have and max them out on the platform. The search engines loves these and treats them as keywords for searchers to find your profile.

6. Observe each section of your profile to see where keywords can be added to make your search relevance more prominent

This coincides with the skills. Your profile needs to find a way to naturally present all the terms you want to be found for. The key areas to check are in your tagline, summary, experience and skills section. Putting together a keyword strategy can be very helpful as your brainstorm ways to optimize your profile.

7. Enhance sections such as volunteer work or accomplishments

This section really sets power users away from the pack, because it is one of the most human and empathetic areas of your profile. These sections definitely can’t be skipped because it gives your audience a peek at the causes you care about and milestones you’ve reached throughout your career whether business or personal. The first tech job I landed came from interest they had in my answer to the greatest professional accomplishment I had up to that point in my life – to their surprise it was within my local church and not a work award. Be human, it matters.

8. Determine if you have an appropriate profile picture, if not, find affordable solutions to address it

If your profile picture is currently not one you’d be willing to put on a corporate bulletin board, then it needs fixed – asap! With smartphones increasingly getting more advanced and able to produce high resolutions – there’s no reason not to have a presentable profile picture. If yours isn’t the best, ask a friend to help take it with theirs and send it to you. Advanced users will typically get a professional head shot taken.It’s $50 well spent if it lands them their next big opportunity.

9. Check for cohesiveness and flow of your profile to make sure it paints a clear picture to your target market

Always view your profile through the lens of your ideal viewer. If you’re seeking employment, think about how many thousands of profiles a recruiter might look at in a day. Would your profile as a whole stick out? Or maybe you’re in sales, does your profile speak to your ideal customer well? These are all reverse psychology tactics you must keep in mind as you paint your digital masterpiece. If you could use some help to get there, let’s talk.

The Changing Tides: 3 Keys to Career Navigation

“The main fuel to speed the world’s progress is our stock of knowledge, and the brake is our lack of imagination.” -Julian Simon

In 2018, many of the ways of life we know are changing rapidly. The 1950s version of the American dream tends to be fading fast. It used to be… you grow up, you go through school, go to college, get a job/start a business, and work until retirement. Pretty simple, right?

Nowadays, that simplistic life isn’t always attainable. Households have to have two incomes because the cost of living is constantly rising, communication is instant & global, and people are left with the decision to either invest in themselves to grow – or get left behind. In fact, Dell is predicting that by 2030, 85% of jobs that will exist haven’t been invented yet.

With all these rapid changes taking place around us, how can you navigate them?

Here are three steps you can take to make sure you don’t get left behind.

1. Focus on your strengths

Not everyone wants to write code, become a data scientist, or be center stage as a keynote speaker. That’s completely alright.

As you were pursuing your degree, I’m sure you began to see where your talents were. Did you enjoy writing – whether that be creatively or educationally? Did you enjoy giving presentations or coming up with business ideas? Perhaps some of the work experience you has revealed areas that you’re interested in.

My advice: take your interests and your strengths and hone those skills! You will become an expert much faster.

The word expert is abused today, when I reference it, I’m talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that expert level at anything takes 10,000 hours of practice to accomplish.

I emphasize this because skills such as storytelling or professional networking take time to become expert at. However, once you do- mastery of a skill is timeless. Plus, do you really want to spend 10,000 hours doing something that you don’t enjoy?

2. Find your weaknesses & decide how to supplement them

Typically, one of the most common job interview questions you will get asked at some point if you haven’t already is – what’s your greatest weakness, and tell me a time when you had to overcome it?

Does this one make you cringe? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The nice thing is, with technology being so innovative nowadays there are plenty of ways that you can supplement your weaknesses. For example in my case, I consider myself a slow typer. Most people are shocked when they learn that I’ve been in the tech industry for years and am a slow typist. Side note, Mavis Beacon is your friend. 😉

The question then becomes how can I supplement this weakness? Two ways, either by the use of video (communicating in a short concise way) or simply using speak-to-text. Those are just two easy ways of many I’ve been able to identify as a way to supplement my weakness. You can do the same with yours. Technology in most cases can make up for skills we humans lack.

3. Never forget you’re not alone – find a mentor or resource that you can trust

Thankfully, as you grow in your career you’ll meet people. Imagine for a second your career is a movie, in your movie you play the star. Your colleagues, bosses, friends, and family play the supporting cast. As you have experiences in your movie, some of the supporting cast will come and go. And then sometimes there will be some supporting cast that will remain with you throughout your journey.

My advice: Find mentors, trusted advisors, or other respected individuals that you can count on to see trends and the big picture of what’s happening around us. Add them to your “supporting cast.” This will help you navigate through your career. LinkedIn has made this a big initiative and even Facebook is following suit.

Some criteria I consider before choosing a person of influence…

What’s their experience level? Have they had both successes and failures in their career to learn from? Are they authentic at their core? Can they bring you value in some form?

In summation, it’s important to remember that your career is a marathon and not a sprint. There will be hurdles, there will be let-downs, and hopefully there will be some successes. Just remember, you have gifts & talents, you have skills that make those up, and if you surround yourself with the right people – your potential is limitless.

I’m ready to roll the sleeves up if you are. Let’s get to work!

The Journey Begins: Forrest Unlimited Brand Story

All awesome brands have a cool story. Each one is unique and individual in its own way, and Forrest Unlimited is no different. Here’s our story…

One of my favorite shows I love watching with my family is Last Man Standing. If you’re not familiar, Tim Allen plays an entrepreneur of an outdoor sporting equipment store, much like Cabela’s. What’s cool about the show is that I drew a lot of parallels in my own life because during college I spent four and a half years working at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the outdoors department – learning a lot of the tricks to the trade of selling. Along the way, I developed a lot of great relationships and a lot of great memories from working at that store. And I felt a connection between Last Man Standing and my own experience.

Long-term, I guess my dream would be to have my own sporting goods store that I can use to serve other outdoor enthusiasts, but in the short-term I wanted to do something that could directly impact people. So, to test the waters of entrepreneurship a little bit – I came up with an e-commerce drop-shipping business and I wanted to call it Forrest Unlimited, because I want people to realize that they had unlimited opportunities to seek adventure. For a few months, I played around trying to develop a concept for an online-only sporting goods store.

It was fun, I learned a lot and it opened my eyes to perhaps what the future could look like. But I didn’t really have the time to invest into it to really get it off the ground, being newly married. At that point, I decided to pivot and by pivoting I also took a look at myself. I evaluated what skills, what passions, and what things drive me. One thing I noticed was LinkedIn. Throughout my career, LinkedIn has been a differentiator for me. It gave me a platform to be able to tell my story, connect with others, and unlock the door to many opportunities.

Back during the time when I was experimenting with the e-commerce platform, my wife Lindsey, who is what I call a crafty powerhouse in design – came up with the logo. She also helped me come up with the slogan “Unearth your potential.” The slogan originally spoke to the Outdoor Adventure enthusiasts, but coincidentally it works in the professional realm as well.

When we pivoted, I realized there’s so many people out there who would love to learn how to unlock their potential by building a strong personal brand, a personal narrative that tells their story really well, and new ways to grow their career potential. So the logo And the tagline stayed. If you look at the logo, you’ll notice how the roots run deep into the abbreviation, UNLTD. That’s symbolic of how growing through personal investment can teach you about yourself, your skills, and your abilities – it will be the contributing factor to your unique path.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my career, it’s that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to develop a strong amount of self-worth, you have to believe in yourself that you can do what you set your mind to, and you can’t give up. Forrest Unlimited sticks to those values and that mission to never give up and to keep growing. Building something from the ground up takes time, takes patients, takes effort, but the results can be yours if you are willing to put the time and effort in.

My hope with the Forrest Unlimited brand, is that it becomes synonymous with grit, determination, results, and long-term success. That unearthing your potential is something you can do and no one can tell you that you can’t. When we put limits on ourselves, that’s when we fail, but my goal with this company is to show you that you can do it. You can stand above the crowd.

Let’s connect, build a partnership that lasts, and a strong future for your career and your goals.

This is how the journey began for us, how will it begin for you?

Taking Chances

We’ve all heard in some form or another, the infamous speech called “the dash”. If you haven’t, essentially the speaker gives you a taste of motivation by explaining how so many people focus on the beginning or the ending of a story. This is usually illustrated by a tombstone, where the birth & death years are listed, but so much of a person’s story is represented by the dash. Hard to believe if you think of it, right? Your entire journey through life is translated by a simple form of grammatical insignificance. Or is it?

Do you relate to most people by trying to “fit in” or striving not to disrupt the status quo? Often times, people seek to find their comfort zone and clench tightly to it once they find it. Is this you? Sometimes these places of comfort and security cause us to forfeit our dreams. Settling for a job instead of loving your career, or never starting the business you’ve always wanted – these are the consequences of comfort. Time is the one resource we can’t get back, so what comforts are you clenching on to?

Taking a leap of faith isn’t easy. In many cases, it can backfire causing us to resist anymore risks. However, the one thing I’ve learned throughout my career in business and in sales is not to let failure keep you from swinging for the fences (baseball analogies are the best)! Sometimes the best way to know you actually have courage is to see how you deal with adversity. So in the words of Nickelback, What are you waiting for?