LinkedIn… it’s an amazing platform that can help build your career or business. If your Profile really showcases what you do (oh, and if you’re active on the platform it really helps too).
As someone who Revamps LinkedIn Profiles, I spend a lot of time on the platform, researching and viewing profiles. So this post is to help those of you out there who don’t know where to start.
Why use LinkedIn?
Firstly, let’s be honest, how many of us have used “professional stalking” to find out more about someone and decide if we want to work with them? It’s pretty common practice now to ‘Google’ someone and get the scoop on them before you part with your contact details or hard-earned cash.
And from a purely statistical perspective, LinkedIn now has over 500 million members. It’s the social media platform professionals use to connect with one another. So if you’re looking for a new job or your ideal client is a professional, it’s a great place to show people what you do.
And why should I fix my profile?
A short activity for you (I get it if you’re eye rolling now, but please, stay with me people). Go to your LinkedIn feed and type in the search term of (picking a random here) “accountant”.
How many results do you see that make you want to click and find out more? I’m guessing you see a lot of results that say “Accountant”, some that don’t even have a photo.
Yep, sounds obvious that they’d all say accountant (stay with me).
But let’s say you’re an Accountant looking for their next role, or an accountant operating their own business. Why would someone who is “professionally stalking” you want to know more about you or connect with you, if you look the same as everyone else?
If you’re still not convinced or not sure what I mean (spoiler alert), scroll down and read a couple of the ‘Accountant’ headline examples I’ve provided below.
But I’m too busy to fix my profile…
Back to the “professional stalking” mentioned earlier. Let’s say that someone finds you on LinkedIn but doesn’t contact you because your profile looks a bit average. What’s that lost opportunity worth to you?
And if that’s not enough to inspire you: did you know that often if you Google your own name and you’re on LinkedIn, your LinkedIn Profile comes up on Page 1?
Yep, your LinkedIn Profile (cue: dramatic music) (however, disclaimer: if your name is something like “John Smith” this page one phenomenon may not occur for obvious reasons).
The point is – what is your LinkedIn Profile saying about you?
Are your ideal connections able to find out who you are and what you do quickly and easily?
If not, you need to take some time to make your profile stand out.
Here are some pointers on how:
First thing’s first. How can people get in touch with you?
So often when I’m reviewing someone’s profile, they don’t have their contact information updated. By default, LinkedIn will only show your InMail link.
If you want people to get in touch with you (some don’t), then provide your email, web address, Facebook link and phone number.
Just click on ‘Contact info’ in your profile, then click on the pencil to edit. Voila!
Also, did you know that you can update your LinkedIn Profile URL to reflect your name (rather than a link with a bunch of random numbers)? Just click ‘Edit public profile & URL’ to change it.
Theeere you are! (your Profile Photo)
Firstly, you need a profile photo because people want to connect with YOU. Don’t be shy, here’s why:
To get it right, take a photo that shows you:
- Happy and smiling (go on, show off those pearly whites)
- Making eye contact with the camera (audience)
- Dressed for your role or profession
- In a light, bright environment (not too dark or moody, unless that’s part of your gig)
- Showing more than just your face (no offence, but your face with neck and shoulders is better than just a big pic of your face taking up the whole image)
If you’re struggling to get a good shot, it might be worth investing in a professional photographer.
Tech specs: the dimensions LinkedIn recommends for your profile shot are 400 x 400 pixels.
What do you do? (start by showing them a great Background picture)
We’ve all seen the default LinkedIn Background image with the blue connection thingies. I think the best way to explain why you need a background image is with this simple before and after:
As you can see, Tom’s (yes he’s a client of mine) new background image clearly shows his logo and him speaking. Tom is a Customer Experience (CX) expert so we wanted to showcase the fact that he’s done speaking gigs on his background image (find out more about the cool CX stuff he does at http://www.skybluecxs.com.au/)
If you’re not into professional speaking, what type of background image can you use? Here are some ideas:
- Showcase your business or personal brand
- Tell people what it is you do for them
- Talk about your achievements
- A city backdrop of where you live (or where you’re targeting a new job)
- An image that reflects what you do, for example, an organised desk for a Virtual Assistant or Personal Assistant
There’s one problem with the background image. As at the time of writing, your profile photo appears in different spots on the background image on Desktop Computers vs Mobile Devices. Check this out:
So – whatever you decide to do, make sure you check how it looks on mobile and desktop (why, LinkedIn, why!?).
Tech specs: the dimensions LinkedIn recommends for your profile shot are 1,584 x 396 pixels.
Want to make your own background image? Go you! Use Canva (a fab, free or low cost, DIY Graphic Design platform) which provides a ‘LinkedIn Banner’ template ready for you to put your logo or artwork, or personal stamp on.
What do you do part 2? (use a Headline to showcase what you do)
Going back to the earlier example above, let’s say you’re an Accountant. And everyone else’s profile says: Accountant. Yawn.
How to stand out?
Most people have this headline:
But let’s say you are starting your own business. How about this:
Helping you make sense of the numbers & plan to grow your business | Founder, NAME Accounting
Or let’s say you are looking for a new job:
Chartered Senior Accountant with project management experience working across several industries
It’s pretty easy to see which of those three examples would catch the eye of your ideal connection, right?
- If you’re in business, what is it you do for people? (not “I do this” but “Helping X with Y”, “Providing X to Y for Z”… people always want to know what you do for them)
- If you’re looking for a new job, what do you have to offer (look at ads for the job you want and focus on using the keywords or phrases recruiters are looking for)?
- Make sure you add any relevant qualifications to your headline
- Ditto for achievements, but don’t make it all about that
- Use the keywords you want connections to find you for (if you’re stuck, use the endorsements section on LinkedIn or look at job advertisements)
Tech specs: your headline can only be 120 characters including spaces (use MS Word or something similar to check you’re under the limit before you change your headline).
But more about you… (your Profile Summary)
Now that people visiting your profile have feasted their eyes on your photo, fabulous background image, and the headline has caught their eye, they’ll start reading the first few lines of your summary.
When you view someone’s profile that’s all you can see until you click ‘Show more’ (apart from any Media you’ve provided which I’ll talk about next). Here’s what I mean:
So it’s another great opportunity to tell people what you do, get them to read on and connect with you.
Let’s start with a couple of “don’t’s” for your summary:
- Don’t copy and paste your latest position description.
- Don’t copy and paste what’s on your website.
- Please don’t speak in the third person, for example, “Tarquin finds it rewarding to lead teams to achieve great things”. Why? Because Tarquin, it makes you sound like a plonker.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, the “do’s”:
- Showcase your skills, experience, and what you can do for the new clients you want, or the role and company you want to work for.
- Use the keywords we talked about previously (you did read that bit, right?).
- If you’re looking for a job – speak in the first person, but beware of too many “I’s”. For example, “As an experienced senior leader in the INDUSTRY, I’ve achieved the following throughout my career:”.
- If you’re looking to build your business – speak in the second and first person to tell potential clients what you do for them. For example, “Driving quality leads to your business is the key to your success, and that’s what we do at XYZ Co”.
- Use dot points to make it easy for potential connections to find out about your key skills, achievements or list of business services.
- Finish off with a call to action. In other words, what do you want the person reading your profile to do? Some examples: call you, have a free consultation with you, visit your website, connect with you.
- Check ‘yo spelling (the Grammarly Chrome Extension is awesome for checking spelling on the fly).
Lastly, if you’re unsure if your summary “works”, have someone impartial read it for you and see if they get what your value is (tip: not your mum, spouse or significant other).
Tech specs: your summary has a 2,000 character limit including spaces (use MS Word or something similar to check you’re under the limit before you paste and save).
Back that s*&t up (with some Media)
Under your summary section, you have an opportunity to show some media, to show the people what you can do.
This is where you can be creative and share cool stuff like:
- Slide presentations
- Pics of you doing cool stuff related to your business or vocation
- Media articles you’re featured in
- Blog posts
- LinkedIn Articles
- Website of specific webpage links
It’s another opportunity to back up your cred, so make the most of it! (tip: remember to use keywords when you are writing your Media descriptions).
If you have too much media to share, you can also use it in your experience section.
Show your experience
The experience section is in chronological order kind of like a resume. What it does is tell a story about your background, and how you got to where you are today.
So make the most of it – give the details of each of your past roles as they relate to what you are looking for.
If you’ve had a career change or started a business, focus on the areas of previous roles or businesses that link to what you’re doing now.
Remember to use:
- An opening sentence or two summarising what you actually did, “In this role I oversaw…”, or “This business achieved…”
- Keywords and phrases that will appeal to your ideal recruiter or client
- Dot points to showcase skills, achievements or services your business provides
You can also add media to each experience section if you wish, so if you have too much cred to share in your summary, share it here!
You’ve got the skills (with endorsements)
Does anybody else hear the Beastie Boys song in their head at this point or is it just me?
Anyway, apologies for that random 90s music reference. Endorsements – the place where you can list a bunch of your skills and have other people go, “yes, Tarquin can do that”.
Endorsements are a great source of inspiration for keywords (I’ve talked about them a lot, haven’t I? Hint: reason is because they’re important). Plus for anyone scanning your profile they can see what you can do pretty quickly.
You want your skills to reflect what you’re doing now. Sounds obvious, but stay with me here… If there’s old stuff in there (I had heaps of endorsements for HR and recruitment which I don’t do any more), you can delete it, leaving potential connections to see what’s more relevant (in my case, copywriting).
What to do if you have no-one endorsing you? (sad face)
Do what one of my clients did: endorse some of her close contacts for their skills, then send them a polite LinkedIn Message (InMail) letting them know she’d endorsed them, and asking for their help to endorse her. I think that’s a pretty cool approach. Clearly not one to be used with people you don’t know very well, so use it carefully.
Share the love (with some recommendations)
The next step after getting some endorsements is recommendations. These are written recommendations (or testimonials) about what you can do for other LinkedIn users.
Keep in mind if you have recommendations to make them as current as you can, related to your goal. So if you want a new job and your recommendations are from 3 years ago about your old job, try to get some new ones. Same-same for businesses.
Yep, I don’t have any as yet, but that’s because as a business owner, I request testimonials either on Google Reviews or Facebook. But everyone’s different, and if LinkedIn is where you generate leads or showcase your skills, take the time to get some recommendations happening.
What are you into? (Interests)
This is the part of your profile where LinkedIn shows the people or companies you follow and the groups you are a member of.
So yep, people will read it and think they’re learning a bit about you. My suggestion on this is to follow people, companies and join groups related to your goals.
If you run a digital marketing business (for example), join groups related to that. Follow renowned marketers (Simon Sinek popped into my head, but that’s only if he’s your bag).
If you’re an accountant (back to the example we started with), join finance and accounting groups and follow companies related to your profession or industry.
If you’re comfortable, go ahead and show a bit about your personality so people feel they’re getting to know you.
But a word of caution: what you don’t want is that you follow something that is diametrically opposed to the type of client or job you want (fail).
That’s all folks. If you have followed these steps, your shiny new profile is complete.
Time to break out the bubbles (or whatever takes your fancy) and start connecting like a pro.
Phew! What a doozy of a blog post at over 2,000 words. I’m going to break this sucker down into some bite-size chunks for social media, so if that’s more your style, stay tuned on either LinkedIn or Facebook.
And if you’ve taken my advice and fixed up your profile, send me an InMail or connection request so I can take a look.
I love to see people like you really showcase your value and make the most of your LinkedIn Profile branding!