LinkedIn is not just for job seekers and those looking to grow their network of professional connections.
LinkedIn is a great platform for small businesses (especially owners, solo-entrepreneurs, and business development staff) to be discovered, position their brands, nurture their audiences, solidify commercial relationships, trigger referrals, engage in conversations and learn.
But before audiences get to your company page, they often begin with your personal LinkedIn profile. And while you can’t embellish your work history, you can certainly curate your story to present your best professional self.
Here are some tips on how to spruce up your personal LinkedIn.
Tip #1 – Discoverability: Keywords, keywords, keywords
Discoverability rests upon your ability to make the LinkedIn search engine work for you. While the algorithms are opaque and constantly changing, the foundational principle that lies underneath it is relevance.
The first step would be to think about all the keywords related to the industry you work in and to your skills. Try to think about the less obvious ones as well. Then, as you write your “About” / “Summary” section, be sure to include as many of these keywords as are natural and relevant.
Beyond the About section, the Experience section too has opportunities for keyword enrichment. When describing your roles and achievements, do try to include keywords where relevant. It is important here to remember that all industries evolve and often terminology becomes out-dated, takes on new meanings or gets replaced by new buzzwords. It is important to stay on top of your profile and express your experience using the most up-to-date language. You don’t want to appear out of touch with your industry.
The goal is to rank for search queries that include the keywords of your choice. But, keywords are just the beginning and alone won’t do the job.
Tip #2 is arguably more important.
Tip #2 – Branding: Let Your Personality Shine
When your 2nd level connections land on your profile page, you want to use every opportunity to stand out from all the other professionals that share similar job descriptions. LinkedIn offers multiple opportunities to do this.
First, begin with a well-designed Banner. Too many personal profiles use the default LinkedIn banner. Never mind that it does not make for a good first impression, it is a wasted opportunity! There is a space here for you to articulate your personalised value proposition or express core values in compelling images and text. If done right, this expression of your personality will offer relatability pathways. In business, relationships matter; and in the digital world first impressions and collaborations often begin on LinkedIn.
The second opportunity to let your personality shine is in the Headline – the section just below your name. While most people use it for generic job title descriptions, generous character limits allow for far more creativity and personalisation. But keep in mind, personalisation in this space may not be appropriate for everyone. Certain industries and jobs don’t allow for much creative wiggle room. You don’t want to alienate or confuse your audience by being too left-field or ambiguous. But especially if it is on-brand, do it – I’ve seen some really interesting expressions of this headline including:
Lady Boss (an MD of a TV production company)
Head of Complaints (Customer Service)
Finally, the About / Summary section offers a 2,000 character limit. There is a lot of room to tell your story and express yourself. It is particularly helpful to tell your audience what it is that you’re interested in and what drives you. In composing your content, I would recommend you reflect on the conversations you have at parties – how do you tell strangers about what you do and why you do it? In this section it is best to refer to yourself in the first person – be personable and sincere.
A cohesive expression of personality across your entire LinkedIn profile facilitates brand stickiness, reinforces your messages and welcomes the right kinds of interactions from the desired audiences.
Tip #3 – Consideration: Offer Expert Insights
You are an expert in your field and have insights that your audiences will find valuable. Think about what questions your leads and customers are asking you – address those. Then when they do land on your page, they get treated to free, value-adding information. You’ll be helping them, they’ll be grateful for it and just like that you set your relationship off on the right foot. Over time, this strategy also has the added benefit of positioning yourself as a subject matter authority.
Do remember that the activity section of your profile also features all the posts you have published, reacted to or commented on. Critically on LinkedIn more than any other platform, what you Like / Comment is a public expression of who you are. So please engage wisely. :)
Tip #4 – Delight: The Art of Endorsements
If you’re playing in the B2B space, LinkedIn is the preferred repository for your reviews (over Google). But unless your client is a family member, you can only realistically ask them for a review once – so you need to time it right. I recommend creating the perfect moment:
soon after deliver a big win, PLUS
after you have completed a periodical review that captures a dramatic before / after state, AND
just after you have thrown in some good will (in the form of a discount or some pro bono support), AND
just after you have given them an honest, glowing endorsement
When the positive sentiment is high, send them an “Ask for a Recommendation” request for an honest, detailed review. If you’ve timed it right, you will not need to prompt them with talking points.
Tip #5 – Buff Up The Fine Print
Building on the principles above, across the rest of your profile I recommend finding opportunities to add relevant keywords, let your personality shine and open up more bridges / pathways for new relationships by:
Being Specific – if you had multiple positions in a single company, avoid generalising and make it obvious – promotions are a good thing and paints you in a positive light. There is no such thing as too much information.
Maxing Out Education List – the more institutions you list, the greater the chance of finding commonalities with your audience. Even if it only is a shared primary school, it is a pathway into a potentially enriching conversation and business relationship.
Framing Volunteering Like Work – you’ve exercised valuable skills in your volunteer work and expressing it with a sense of responsibility can only be positively received.
Keeping Skills List Current – you’re evolving and your profile needs to accurately evolve with you.
Having an up-to-date, on-brand personal profile is just the beginning of an active journey to unlock opportunities and advance your career / business.
Conspicuously missing from this list is the biggest question I get about LinkedIn: how to take the perfect LinkedIn profile picture? It really does deserve a post of its own. :)