Without a doubt the single most important part of LinkedIn is your profile. Whether you’re a salesperson, marketer or job seeker your profile is your chance to get your name out there and be found. Your profile is the first thing people are going to see when you connect with them or they find you in a search and first impressions are important.
With this in mind let’s dust off that old profile you may well have had hung in the cupboard for the last five years and follow these 7 tips for turning it from an online C.V into the perfect tool for creating lasting relationships with other professionals.
1. Don’t be unprofessional
I get it, you may be proud of that shirtless selfie you took at the gym or the time you were busting out some sick moves on a night out but LinkedIn simply isn’t the place for it. All jokes aside, be it in profile pictures, headlines or job descriptions, being unprofessional simply isn’t acceptable on LinkedIn. Your profile is one of the first things people will see when they search for you online and if you don’t come off as the professional I’m sure you are there’s every chance your next lead, client or recruiter could turn their back on you forever.
My general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t mention it in a job interview, then don’t post it to your LinkedIn profile. If you’re in any doubt as to if it belongs there or not it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Open a new tab right now and check for any sign of unprofessionalism on your profile, remove it if there is any, and come back. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
2. Brand yourself with a profile and banner image
Believe it or not LinkedIn profiles with images receive 21 times the number of views and 9 times the number of connection requests as those without them. Ensuring your picture is clear and geared towards the type of person you’re looking to impress raises these number even higher! You don’t need to get them professionally taken or even use an expensive camera. All you need is a relatively modern mobile phone, a friend or colleague and a bit of forethought.
“LinkedIn profiles with images receive 21 times the number of views”
Ensure the photo you take is of you and only you, a head-shot against a clear background is preferable. Pictures on LinkedIn are small so try to make sure you take up about 60% of the frame. The only part you really need to think about is your appearance. You should dress to impress the audience you serve.
While you’re uploading your profile picture you’ll want to take advantage of a little used feature, banner images. The vast majority of people are still using the standard blue banner at the top of their profile but the best profiles use this to help build their personal brand. I recommend you add a custom image that stands out and helps to build your authority.
3. Craft the perfect headline
Even though your headline (the text that shows up next to your picture in search results, posts and comments) is set to your current job title by default this often isn’t enough to get them interested. Yes, it’s best to include your job title but if it’s unlikely to resonate with the people you’re trying to connect with you should add something else to get your message across.
Would you rather be ‘Danny – Business Development at Agency’ or ‘Danny – Helping Businesses Connect with their Customers | Business Development at Agency’?
4. Use your summary to take visitors on a journey
On every LinkedIn profile page, below the summary is a long list of a person’s experience, skills and qualifications. So why I ask you do so many people insist on wasting valuable real estate and pasting this exact same information into their summaries. Did you study that same course at university twice? No? So why write it twice? Instead consider taking your audience on a journey.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”
The saying goes “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, the best LinkedIn summaries reflect this. If you can express your reasons, your passion for why you do what you do, even going far enough to get your reader emotionally invested in your life’s mission, they’re far more likely to connect with you and start a conversation.
Take 5 minutes, an hour, however long it takes to get this section right. Workshop it with your colleagues and even consider asking a trusted client or recruiter for comments. If your headline is the hook then this is the reel that will pull your audience in.
5. Build credibility with multimedia
Quite possibly the most underused function on LinkedIn is the ability to add media such as pictures, video and slide shows to your profile. These show up below your summary as thumbnails. Once someone clicks on them they enlarge and include a title and description which you can customise.
This media is a great opportunity to build your personal brand and engage visitors that may only skim read your summary. Ensure any media you upload is professional and makes an effort to educate it’s viewer about what, how or why you do what you do. Infographics or short videos are perfect for this!
6. Post relevant, insightful content
If your main goal on LinkedIn is to build authority for your personal brand and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry then posting content your audience will find insightful and engaging is key!
“Posting content your audience will find insightful and engaging is key”
LinkedIn supports both short ‘update posts’ similar to status updates on Facebook and long form ‘Articles’ which are similar to a traditional blog post. Both types of content will show on your profile under the ‘Articles and Activity’ section. Taking the time to write genuinely useful articles people will engage with and regularly sharing updates for your followers will do the world of good for your credibility. If you like the idea of creating articles on LinkedIn but aren’t sure where to start I’ve written another blog covering some of the easiest and most engaging types of post to write either for a blog or LinkedIn.
7. Send and request endorsements and recommendations
If you’ve never heard of ‘Social Proof’ it’s the idea that getting others to recommend and advocate for you is far more effective than anything you could do yourself. Thankfully LinkedIn makes it really easy to show anyone viewing your profile just how much others are willing to boast on your behalf.
“Getting others to recommend and advocate for you is far more effective than anything you could do yourself”
Towards the bottom of your profile is a section for endorsements and recommendations. This is where others LinkedIn members are able to endorse your listed skills with the click of a button and even write a recommendation singing your praises!
The best way to get others to add this social proof to your profile is to get out there and give them a pat on the back first. Head to your colleagues, boss’ and even clients profiles and leave honest endorsements and heartfelt recommendations, they’re likely to return the favour.
In conclusion . . .
Regardless of if you only log into LinkedIn when you receive a message or if you spend hours each day using it to prospect for new leads there are improvements all of us can make to improve our profiles, myself included.
While these 7 tips are a great start to improving your professional presence online there’s plenty more to learn and nobody knows it all. How many of these profile sections are you taking full advantage of? What do YOU think? Is there any advice you have for creating the perfect LinkedIn profile?