SAN DIEGO—When prospective customers Google a businessperson or business, the LinkedIn profile’s usually at the top of the search results.

It’s a new fact of life that makes it vital to portray yourself on the business-oriented networking site as you would have others perceive you, two speakers said at the Western States Acquirers Association Annual Conference here last week.

"Start with LinkedIn, and nail it," advised Sarah Guckes, vice president of marketing at First American Payment Systems.

Using the site wisely has made another speaker, David Steel, CEO of, a first- or second-degree connection of every CEO in Southern California, he told attendees.

To look good on LinkedIn, post a professionally photographed headshot of yourself, Steel noted.

By default, the site puts your job title on the second line, just below your name. You can change that to something that expresses your message more succinctly, he said.

Make sure to write a career summary and include contact information in it, Steel said, emphasizing the importance of casting aside modesty and instead trumpeting your achievements.

Put your best attributes first, and wrack your brain—if necessary—to dredge up examples of how you’ve cut costs or produced revenue for employers, he maintained.

If you’ve made several career changes, search for a way to weave your past jobs into a single coherent narrative, said Guckes.

"Use the summary to make it one story," she advised.

The recipe for a great job description includes your amazing accomplishments, the companies where you achieved them and recommendations that bear witness to them, Steel said.

What’s more, the recommendations show you’ve already been vetted, he added.

And building a cache of recommendations isn’t difficult. Simply write recommendations for lots of people, and they will reciprocate by writing recommending you, Steel said.

Videos and slide shows can go up on the site, and it’s a good idea to provide them, Steel said.

Remember, too, to type in the words like "brand management" anytime the phrase applies, he said, noting its popularity as a search term.

The goal in shaping a LinkedIn profile is to portray yourself as a thought leader, not to sell services to a merchant, said Guckes.

For example, use social media to teach merchants about EMV, breaches or Apple Pay, she suggested.

Then comes the good part, according to Steel. Once you’re dialed in your company profile, LinkedIn generates leads for salespeople who create connections with other users.

To connect, use all 130 of the available characters to write a brilliant link request, he urges. It pays off to spend two hours or so crafting a request, too. In one campaign, he received a positive response 60% of the time.

Details make the difference in link requests, Steel said, noting that one CEO accepted because both of them had rowed crew at San Diego State.

Though the speakers said little about social media other than LinkedIn, Guckes did recommend maintaining a consistent look and feel in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

"Have the same personality," she said. "You’re the same person in each."

Encourage other members of the team to share content, consistently post three or four times a week to social media and track the results, Guckes told attendees.

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