The best LinkedIn Profile will not be very useful to you without contact information readily available for recruiters and other members of your network.
If you cannot be easily reached, people move on. Opportunities will evaporate, and you will never know.
In discussions with recruiters, as well as my own searching on LinkedIn, I have noticed a barrier that many people have accidentally created for themselves inside LinkedIn.
They have a great Profile, but they make absolutely no contact information visible. So, they do excellent marketing, but provide no way to close the sale -- or even to speak with the customer.
Recruiters search LinkedIn relentlessly, based on keywords (your top 25 keywords), looking for candidates who are qualified for their job openings.
When recruiters find someone who is qualified, they want to contact that person as quickly as possible. More than one recruiter has told me that the preferred contact information is a phone number, but an email address is the absolute minimum.
If recruiters cannot easily contact the candidate, they move on to the next candidate. Potential customers or clients also move on.
Protecting our privacy is very important for all of us. However, without contact information available on your Profile, being visible in LinkedIn is a waste of time.
Fortunately, protecting privacy and having contact information visible is possible! Here's how...
Be sure that you check your Gmail and Google Voice accounts often, or forward them to email addresses and phone numbers that you do check often. [For anyone who is curious, these recommendations were NOT paid for by Google! These are, currently, your best options. If something better develops, those better options will be recommended here.]
Also use this contact information for your business/networking cards. As with your LinkedIn Profile, you want to be easily reached, but you don't want to put your job or your privacy at risk.
At the top of your Profile (in the desktop version of LinkedIn), you'll find the "Contact info" section very visible and accessible (this is good!) to people who are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level connections...
To edit your contact information, click on the "See contact info" (above), and a popup window will appear which offers you contact information options. (More on that below.)
You can, of course, also edit the contact information using your smartphone. In a smartphone, the top of your Profile looks a bit different than it does on your laptop or computer monitor..
The basic information is visible in a smart phone, but in slightly different order and layout. On a smart phone, the "Contact" section is near the bottom of the Profile. Click on "Contact" to edit this section on your phone.
When you've clicked on the link, the screen below will pop open.
The default information provided by LinkedIn is your LinkedIn Profile URL, which is the only information they have.
To add more useful information for recruiters, click on the pencil icon in the top right of the box, as you see circled here on the left, and edit your contact information.
A large form will open offering you the opportunity to add contact information to your profile, as well as up to 3 websites like your blog, your online portfolio, and your employer's website.
You can make the street address of your work location visible, or at least the city and state. Do NOT make your home address visible, even if you are not employed.
Unless someone is connected to you, even at the 3rd level, they will not see the contact information you have included in the Contact info section, described above.
So, when you want to be easily reached by someone who is not connected to you (like a recruiter or potential client/customer), add a sentence to your LinkedIn About section which includes your contact information.
If you are in an active job search, put the information in the first sentence of your the About section which makes it very easily visible to anyone without the necessity of clicking on the "see more" link. Including contact information in that location makes it very easy to find your contact information.
Unfortunately, you may also appear to be aggressively looking for contacts (a.k.a. "desperate"). So, both a positive and a negative outcome are possible.
At the bottom of this form, LinkedIn also offers you the option to make your birthday month and day visible. Ignore that "opportunity"!
Your birthday is a key element for identity thieves, even without the year!
The year is not hard to guess -- the month and day are the hardest to guess, so don't hand it to them.
Yes, you will receive fewer birthday greetings by not including your birthday. Oh, well. That's MUCH better than having your identity stolen.
Recruiters are always in a hurry because their revenue depends on it. So, if they find you and think you are qualified for one of their opportunities, be easy for them to contact. Be active, daily, on LinkedIn to increase the chances of discovery and also to show recruiters that you are paying daily attention to LinkedIn.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.