LinkedIn Success for Leaders: It Starts with a Powerful Profile
It’s a fact: Executives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders are leveraging the power of LinkedIn to stand out in crowded fields.
How would rate the quality of your presence, experience, and outcomes on LinkedIn? You’ve likely started an account, created a bare-bones profile, and cultivated a few hundred connections, but are you seeing the results you want?
When managed properly, LinkedIn is an effective vehicle to highlight your expertise, build a robust professional network, and increase your visibility. If you have not yet harnessed the full functionality of LinkedIn, then you could be missing opportunities to advance your career and spread your influence.
The first step in improving your experience and results on LinkedIn is to upgrade and optimize your profile. When someone lands on your profile, you want to be sure that it conveys your brilliance. Based upon your profile, visitors often make determinations on whether to work with you, extend an opportunity, or even accept a connection invitation.
The first step to creating a powerful profile is to understand the amazing benefits that it can bring. Here’s what you want to accomplish with your profile:
- Inspire trust and confidence by creating an authentic, convincing narrative of your value, offerings, and brand.
- Be found by prospects, clients, business partners, publishers, hiring managers, and the media.
- Position yourself as an industry expert, leader, problem-solver, and go-to professional.
- Generate hits to your website, blog, and other social media profiles.
- Encourage targeted prospects and potential partners to initiate contact or accept invitations.
A solid profile helps you accomplish all of these things. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to tell your story and convey the message you want to communicate about you and your personal brand. Ready to spruce up your profile? Here is a step-by-step walk-through of the key sections of the LinkedIn profile:
Your “headline” is a tagline that appears after your name, and is prominently displayed on your profile. When you publish a post or an article, extend a connection invitation, comment on a group post, or appear in search results, your name and headline appear together. If you are currently employed, you have the option of automatically using your job title and company name as part of your headline. So, your name will then appear as “John Smith, CEO at Smith Enterprises.”
You are allowed to change this headline. Instead of simply listing your job title and company, create a description of your most amazing selling points. Consider: “John Smith, Business Strategist, Published Author & CNN Contributor” is catchier than “CEO at Smith Enterprises.”
LinkedIn allows you 2,000 characters to build a powerful summary. Use this space to showcase your value. Your profile will be seen by prospects, customers, colleagues, and anyone else who wants to learn about you and your business, so be sure to focus on the results you are able to produce – and not just your job description. Your summary is the first narrative section of your profile, so be sure to get your point across.
Here’s a great formula for composing a state-of-the-art summary:
- Introductory paragraph: In a few sentences, provide a concise overview of your core value, specific area of expertise, target market, and results you are able to achieve. You can use this portion of the summary to state your elevator pitch. Make sure to write the summary as if this is the only paragraph people will read (because often it is!).
As of LinkedIn’s last major format update, the only portion of the summary that is immediately visible to visitors is the first two lines of your profile. These lines must pop if you want the reader to click “more” and open the entire summary.
- Bullet key components of your expertise: People have limited attention spans. Let’s not overburden them with large, bulky paragraphs. Many of us tend to zone out when a paragraph becomes too cumbersome. Rule of thumb: Limit each paragraph to five lines – anything more than that looks like a chore and will turn off readers. Make a list of four to eight bullet points you want to convey and devote a separate bullet to each one.
- Focus on achievements, not service offerings; on benefits, not features; on the “why,” and not the “what.” People want problems solved. Show them that you produce results, not just offer services. Merely describing your “responsibilities” is no indication that you generate the desired outcome. Don’t be afraid to draw conclusions for the reader.
- Write in the first person and not the third person (“I” and not “he” or “she”). A profile written in the third person comes across as cold and impersonal. If one of your goals is to connect with people and promote engagement (as it should be), stay in the first person throughout the entire profile section.
Full disclosure: There are conflicting views on this topic. For some, they prefer the third-person approach because they feel it elevates them to more of an influencer or celebrity, rather than just another LinkedIn commoner.
Get your LinkedIn profile professionally written to promote your true value and expertise.
In addition to a chronological listing of your career history, you can provide a detailed description under each position. Again, your goal is to focus on value and results, as opposed to your day-to-day job responsibilities.
In your profile summary, you discuss your expertise and highlights in general terms. But in the experience section, you can provide more specific details.
LinkedIn provides up to 2,000 characters to describe each position. Although I do not suggest you burden readers with lengthy descriptions under each company, it is important to get in appropriate keywords to boost your chances of being found in searches. You do not need to list every job you’ve held since grade school, but the more companies, titles, and keywords you have on your profile, the more likely you will be found.
Skills & Endorsements:
In this important section, you provide listing of your areas of expertise. These are searchable keywords that will be displayed clearly on your profile. Once you start entering a skill into this section, LinkedIn will prompt you with suggestions. List the skills that are most closely aligned with your branding.
When your first-level connections visit your profile, they can “endorse” you for one or more skills. Once they click a specific entry, they add to the tally of how many people endorsed you for that particular skill.
LinkedIn allows you to list up to 50 skills. I suggest you list up to 45 because you want to leave room in case one of your contacts wants to suggest a new skill to your page along with an endorsement.
A straightforward listing of your education, degrees, and other relevant information is all you need to include in this section. You have the option of including dates of attendance or graduation.
Our team of writers, social media strategists, and marketing specialists have helped hundreds of clients increase their visibility by crafting profiles that promote thought leadership, expertise, and value. Get help here.
You want recommendations. These are testimonials placed on your page by your contacts. People with hundreds of contacts but zero recommendations can appear suspect or deficient. It’s difficult to justify having 500+ contacts and not one recommendation. You will need to fix that by proactively soliciting recommendations from clients, colleagues, partners, friends, or any other connections who can genuinely confirm your expertise.
Does your profile still have a string of obnoxious numbers and letters after it? Change it to your name (if possible). If your name is not available, try including a middle initial or perhaps one word after it to describe you. John Smith may have a difficult time even with a middle initial, but if he’s creative, he will find something appropriate. You can then email or list your LinkedIn URL in a much simpler manner. Once you change the URL, however, the old URL will no longer work.
Certifications, Publications, Honors & Awards, Languages, Organizations, and Patents are just a few of the categories you can add to your profile. Select the appropriate categories and provide details.
Don’t forget to include a photo of yourself. Profiles with pictures are more personable and approachable. While professional headshots are preferred, a photo of you in appropriate attire against a neutral backdrop will work fine as well.
Be sure to include applicable websites, Twitter name, and contact information. Make it easy for prospects and clients to find and reach you. You can also adjust your settings to let people know under what circumstances you would like to be contacted.
Most of the suggestions in this article can be implemented within just a few minutes. Writing a value-based, keyword-rich profile is your first step to enhancing your experience on LinkedIn and getting the results you want and deserve.