How long has it been since you've thought about what location and industry you've selected on your LinkedIn profile?iStock_000025083802Small

Many people haven't given it a moment's consideration since setting up their profile many years ago. I suggest now might be a good time to reconsider what you have selected so you can be sure your choices are helping you accomplish your current goals and your goals going forward.

The options are limited but very important

LinkedIn allows you to choose only one industry and one location. Since many of us wear more than one hat and do business nationally or even globally, this can be quite challenging.

Secondly, these two fields may seem insignificant to many users, but they are very important in terms of how people search for us not only on LinkedIn but on Google and other search engines as well.Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.22.34 AM

These two fields are tied directly into a specific search criteria in LinkedIn's advanced people searching function. They are frequently used by people who are looking for your products, services, expertise, and--especially if you're looking for a job--YOU.

How to choose the best location and industry

Start by putting yourself in the shoes of people who are searching for you or someone like you. What location and industry might they put in the advanced search boxes? Here are some strategies to help you get started:

  • If you're a job seeker and thinking about relocating or working in a new industry, use the new location and industry.
  • If you're a sales professional who sells your products and services in a certain part of the country or world or to a specific industry, consider using that location and industry. In other words, think about your customers' industries and locations. This may take priority over your personal industry and location.
  • If you're not seeking a new job and aren't selling anything, select the broadest but still correct location (e.g., select Greater Milwaukee Area instead of Thiensville, Wisconsin).
  • Check out what other people in your current situation or industry are choosing.
  • If you have multiple industry and location choices that are equally good, consider changing them out from time to time to your alternative choices.
  • Consider mentioning multiple cities, Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.33.18 AMregions or industries in other profile sections to improve your search ranking and your chances of being found. The sections that work well for this would be your Summary, Job Experiences, Job Locations, Interests, and maybe even your Headline if it's important enough.
  • Share your thought process for your location and industry choices with others at your company, industry associations, networking groups, etc. and get their feedback. There probably isn't only one correct answer; so getting opinions of other knowledgeable people who know your situation is a no brainer.

There's a lot to think about, but remember--because of LinkedIn's limitations, there's probably no perfect answer. You simply need to make the best decision under the circumstances.

For more important profile strategies, pick up a copy of the second edition of my best-selling LinkedIn book