LinkedIn has over 230 million members, 3.2 million company pages, and infinite ways to connect. But if your profile isn't robust and engaging, you're missing out on massive opportunities to be seen and heard. Try these simple but essential tips for getting the most out of your LinkedIn page.
Write a Compelling Summary
As a marketer (or business owner handling your own marketing), you understand the value of a clear and compelling "elevator pitch".
In essence, the elevator pitch captures what value your company offers in only a few words. This is the boiling down of all of your brand's benefits, identity, offerings, and capabilities into one statement.
On LinkedIn, your personal summary is your own elevator pitch. This part of your profile fills in the blanks between your skills and jobs, and paints a more detailed picture of who you are. This is a great opportunity to personalize your profile, so don't skip it.
There are two schools of thought on summaries: some argue a summary should be written in first person and read autobiographically, while others feel it should be third person and sound like a recommendation. There's really no yes/no answer here, and really depends on what message you'd like to portray on your profile.
If you choose to go with third person and you're not using an actual quote from someone else, make sure the statement reads honest and tactful, rather than pompous. It's good to make yourself sound professional and capable, but it's not so good to make yourself sound big-headed.
There are a few things you want to address in your summary:
- WHO are you, beyond your job title?
- WHAT makes you different from other people in the same industry or role?
- WHY should someone choose to work with, connect, endorse, or communicated with you?
Below, you can see that Luke addresses these questions in first person voice while I stick to third:
Use a Unique Headshot
If a summary statement tells people who we are, a professional profile picture shows it.
"Professional" doesn't have to mean full blown photoshoot and a paid photographer, in fact you'd likely be suprised how many headshots are taken on phones. That being said, appropriate lighting is essential to a quality headshot and is worth taking the time to accurately adjust.
Some professionals advocate for using the same headshot accross all your social networks, so your profiles are easily recognizable. Personally, I like to diversify and use different photos for the different interactions I have on specific networks. Because LinkedIn is obviously a professional network, you're best suited using your most professional headshot there. If you want to carry that accross other networks, that's fine.
I like to use photos that are professional but not dry, because I want to give a realistic representation of who I am.
The real key to maintaining a positive image on social media is to utilize photos that paint a professional but personable picture of you, as Jeff Bullas effectively does on his social networks:
Join and Participate in Groups
Just like any social network, the goal of LinkedIn is to connect like-minded individuals. In the professional space, the ability to network with people in your industry from the comfort of your own desk is valuable, time saving, and massively impactful to your potential reach.
Groups are an awesome opportunity to connect with people in your industry, share and recieve content, and build relationships that grow your business.
To find and join communities of interest, simply select "Groups" from the LinkedIn search categories, and enter a relevant keyword or phrase. Then, join the groups that are most relevant to you and your customers.
Once you're in a group, follow best practices by introducing yourself, engaging in discussions, and tastefully sharing your content or solutions where they're relevant.
While building relationships and learning are obvious benefits of participating in LinkedIn groups, you also get the added perk that all groups you join are displayed on your profile. This helps add a little context to your professional identity and some visual pizazz to your LinkedIn page. Here's how they display:
Include Skills and Certifications
With the basics nailed down, it's time to make your profile really stand out. Adding certifications (AdWords, HubSpot, etc) validate statements your profile makes about your level of professional ability, and tie your identity to recognizable organizations. I encourage you to include as many as possible here, since each one only further grows your credibility.
If you don't have certifications (of if you do!) the Skills section of your profile is another great way to communicated what you're capable of delivering for clients, customers, and employers. With the ability to have your skills "Endorsed" by others, this section has the potential to prove you've earned your chops.
You may notice that strangers and distant industry peers start to endorse you for abstract skills, which LinkedIn prompts users to do from time-to-time. I highly advise against endorsing any connection for any skill you haven't personally seen them demonstrate, since the endorsement is a direct reflection on you. This same idea applies to recommendations.
Give and Recieve RecommendationsSpeaking of recommendations... this aspect of your LinkedIn profile is one of the most concrete ways you can demonstrate competency through written referrals by peers or customers. You can request recommendations for any position you list on your profile.
What about providing recommendations for others? Like skills endorsements, and actually even more so, you should really only be writing recommendations for a small group of people who have actually earned them.
When they're legitimate, recommendations provide social proof that you really are all your profile cracks you up to be. The recommendation below was written by one of my previous supervisors, which provides a solid testament to my abilities for future employers, coworkers, and clients:
If your relationship with someone changes or you want to remove the recommendation from public view for any other reason, you can do so by following these directions.
With these essential parts of your profile complete, you'll lay a concrete foundation upon which to build and maximize your LinkedIn presence. If you have questions along the way, let us know in the comments below!