The content you see on LinkedIn may occasionally may occasionally make you roll your eyes pretty hard. And yes, all you humble braggers, I’m talking to you! But the value a sales professional can get from this social media platform for professionals is undeniable.
In today's digital age, first impressions often happen online. LinkedIn acts as the virtual handshake—a digital introduction to colleagues, potential employers, and business partners, and prospects across the globe. This also makes it the showroom for your personal brand.
Since over 700 million people use LinkedIn, how do you ensure your profile doesn't blend into the crowd? Or, just as importantly, how do you stand out in a way that is authentic, and represents the very best version of yourself?
Dive into these LinkedIn profile tips crafted to elevate your online presence, make meaningful connections, and open doors to new opportunities. Because in the world of business, it's not just about who you know but who knows you.
Compelling headline: More than just a job title
When someone stumbles upon your LinkedIn profile page, the headline is often the first piece of content they'll read after seeing your name and profile photo. By default, LinkedIn populates this section with your current job title, but limiting yourself to that barely scratches the surface of what you can convey in this prime digital real estate.
Here's why - and how - you should optimize this crucial profile section:
1. Immediate Impression
Think of your headline as an elevator pitch. You have a limited number of characters to instantly communicate not just what you do but how you can offer value or what sets you apart in your field.
2. Showcase Expertise
Are you an expert in a niche area within your industry? Maybe you're a "Digital Marketing Specialist with a Focus on SaaS Companies" or a "Supply Chain Analyst Specializing in Eco-Friendly Practices." A tailored headline can set you apart from others in your field.
3. Value Proposition
Instead of simply stating your title, express the value you bring. For instance, a sales manager could frame their headline as "Helping Tech Startups Scale Revenue and Drive Growth." If you have some data to back up your value proposition here, use it. For example, “Grew B2B SaaS company from 2M to 20M ARR in 5 years.”
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
LinkedIn is a search engine for professionals. Incorporating industry-relevant keywords in your headline can make your profile more discoverable. Consider what terms a potential employer or business partner might search for, and integrate those naturally into your headline.
Your career evolves, and so should your LinkedIn headline. As you gain new skills, shift roles, or take on new challenges, revisit and refresh your headline to reflect your current professional focus.
While professionalism is key, don't be afraid to infuse a bit of your personality or passion into your headline- this is an easily actionable way to stand out in a way that is authentic but not to ‘showy’. If you're passionate about mentorship, for instance, mention it. It could read, "Marketing Director | Passionate about Building Teams and Mentoring Future Leaders."
The best LinkedIn headline offers a snapshot of who you are, what you excel at, and the unique value you bring. It's an opportunity to showcase yourself beyond the confines of a job title, capturing the essence of your professional identity in a concise and impactful manner.
Keyword-rich summary: Boosting your visibility and relevance
Just as search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for websites, a similar principle applies to optimizing your LinkedIn summary.
Why keywords matter
LinkedIn operates its own search algorithm. When users—be they recruiters, potential clients, or industry peers—search for professionals in a particular domain, profiles containing specific keywords relevant to that domain stand out. By using these keywords, you enhance the chances of your profile appearing in search results.
Identifying the right keywords
Reflect on your industry and role. What terms or jargon are commonly used? If you're in content marketing, for instance, keywords might include "content strategy," "SEO," "brand storytelling," or "audience engagement." Use tools like LinkedIn's search bar or Google's Keyword Planner for insights.
While it's tempting to cram in as many keywords as possible, it's essential to integrate them naturally, not like a jumbled list of buzzwords!
Don't limit keywords to job titles or broad industry terms. Think about certifications you have, tools you use, methodologies you're familiar with, or even soft skills in high demand in your industry.
If you’re currently undertaking a job search, consider looking at job descriptions for roles you’re interested in and incorporating some of the keywords into your summary section.
As industries evolve, so do the buzzwords and skills associated with them. Regularly revisit your summary to ensure it remains aligned with current industry trends and terminologies.
While the summary is a vital space for keywords, also ensure you've listed relevant skills in the 'Skills & Endorsements' section of your profile. These act as additional keywords and, when endorsed, can further boost your profile's credibility and visibility.
Tell a story
Beyond SEO, your summary is a space to narrate your professional journey. Weave your keywords into a compelling narrative that showcases not only your expertise or specialties but also your passion, values, and aspirations.
In essence, the perfect LinkedIn summary strikes a balance between discoverability and authenticity.
Give detailed work experience
When it comes to LinkedIn, merely listing your job titles and the dates you held each role often sells you short. You want to highlight the real value you brought to each position. Instead of providing a skeletal overview in the experience section, a more enriched portrayal can significantly elevate your profile.
Think of each job title as a chapter in your professional story. Within these chapters, the narrative isn't about your role but the change you instigated, the results you drove, and the teams you led or were a part of. It's about the problems you solved and the innovations you introduced.
For instance, rather than stating, "Managed a sales team," delve into how you transformed the team's approach, perhaps implementing a new strategy that boosted sales by a specific percentage. If you were an "SEO Specialist," don't leave it at that. Discuss the campaigns you spearheaded, how you optimized web content or the significant traffic increase a company website saw under your guidance.
It isn't just about flaunting achievements; it's about providing context. It allows potential employers, collaborators, or network connections to understand your career trajectory and the tangible impact you've had in past roles. It paints a vivid picture of your capabilities, your drive, and the unique blend of experiences you bring to the table.
Show your personality
If your bio simply reads as a narrative version of your resume, it’s a lost opportunity. So, don’t be afraid to go beyond the norm and take some chances. Show a little personality on your LinkedIn page. You want to stand out, but don’t fall into the trap of being quirky for quirky’s sake. Less is more here, but something is always better than nothing.
The buzzword I’ll come back to once again here is “authenticity.” You want to give a feel for who the person behind the LinkedIn profile picture and job title is. Speaking of your profile picture, keep it professional. Avoid an overly candid photo (no beach pics). With the quality of cell phone cameras being so much better today, you can always ask a friend or colleague to take a headshot for you on a neutral background in professional attire. For example, if you work in Higher Education, having the your photo taken in front of a well known building at your current institution should be just fine. Professional doesn’t have to be stuffy and you aren’t limited to a plain grey or white background.
Your background photo is another part of your profile that is prime real estate for bringing in some personality. You can choose something that’s representative of your professional interests, or make something in Canva (no experience required)
You can always edit your bio later if you decide you don’t like something. So, it’s a pretty low-stakes game too. You don’t want to change it every day, but making tweaks and optimimizing it regularly is totally fine!
Get (and give) endorsements
If over 90% of us consult online reviews about a product before making a purchase, how likely do you think it is someone will try to find references about you when considering you for a job? I would think pretty likely.
A skill endorsement or recommendation on LinkedIn is similar to a product getting a great review online. It’s utilizing something called social proof. The basic idea is, that if other people say something is good, then it must be.
If all things were equal between you and another candidate having those endorsements of your skills and character could be what makes you stand out more—also, consider asking managers and peers to endorse you. Having a good variety in the skills section can be helpful.
Along with receiving these testimonials, you should do your best to give them. Think about it this way: if someone asks for your endorsement, it means they think your stamp of approval is meaningful and thus elevates your status in some way.
It’s also good etiquette to give someone an endorsement when asking someone for one. By reciprocating their kindness, you can also deepen your connection. And it never hurts to have more people on your side.
Don’t be too formal
Since LinkedIn is meant for professional use, it’s only natural that you want to appear impressive and knowledgeable. However, sometimes, that comes at the expense of sounding natural and approachable.
Think about it: how many LinkedIn users have public profiles that read something like, “I’m looking to leverage my business acumen to contribute to the overall success and growth of a business enterprise.”
Now, think about how many times you’ve ever heard someone say that exact sentence out loud.
I hope, for your sake, it’s not very often!
There’s a simple reason for that: no one talks that way. As a person who writes words for a living, I understand the appeal. Using big, SAT words make you feel as though you’re coming across in a better light. But a lot of the time, it makes things confusing to read or can make someone seem as if they’re not very approachable.
Any time someone asks me for writing advice, the main thing I suggest is to write how they speak. You want all of your communication, written and spoken, to be consistent. When your writing is reflective of your speaking it helps with that consistency.
Striking a balance is what’s most important. Instead of going full-on formal in your writing, take a business-casual approach. Slightly refined but not stuffy.
(And for the love of god, please speak about yourself in the first person!)
Offer your thoughts
How often do you see “leadership skills” listed as a desirable trait for potential candidates for a job? In my experience, it’s quite often. And it makes sense. Companies benefit from independent thinkers who consider things critically.
One way to show off those traits is by writing thought leadership pieces. They can range from being about your role, to maybe there’s a certain industry trend happening you have a strong opinion on or a unique point of view. Writing an article, or even post, on the topic shows you’re engaged with your work and the larger world surrounding it.
It can also be an opportunity to interact with other thought leaders in your industry and network. So, if you do decide to write something, share it with your network and ask for feedback and their thoughts.
Not only will it give you deeper insight, but it has the possibility to open doors and make connections you didn’t have previously. Also, since not everyone will take the time to write a thought piece, it can serve as a unique profile item. We tend to remember novel things. As a bonus, you might see your profile views increase.
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Staying active on LinkedIn isn’t just about scrolling through feeds or occasionally liking a post; it's about fostering a dynamic professional persona that resonates with your immediate network and the broader LinkedIn community.
Regularly posting content, whether it's sharing an insightful article, reflecting on industry trends, or celebrating a new job or professional milestone, reinforces your commitment to your field. It shows that you're not just a passive observer but deeply engaged in the business community. Every high-quality post or share becomes an opportunity to add value and for your connections to understand your perspective, your interests, and, by extension, your expertise.
These interactions can lead to enriching conversations, act as the intro to new in-person connections, or even potential collaborations.
Plus, of course, the LinkedIn algorithm favors active users, making your content more likely to appear in other feeds, giving your visibility a real boost.
How often should I update my LinkedIn profile?
Ideally, every time there's a significant change in your career, such as a new role or accomplishment. However, reviewing your profile every 3-6 months should ensure it remains current and reflects your professional growth.
Is it essential to have a LinkedIn Premium account?
While Premium offers additional features, a well-optimized basic profile can still make a significant impact. Focus on quality content and regular engagement to maximize your profile's effectiveness.
How can I increase my profile visibility to recruiters?
Beyond optimizing your profile with relevant keywords, engage actively on the platform, join industry-specific groups, and ensure your settings allow recruiters and hiring managers to know you're open to job opportunities- i.e., “open to work.”
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Stay active and engaged in the LinkedIn community
As you refine your LinkedIn presence, remember that this platform is more than just a digital CV; it's a living testament to your professional journey, aspirations, and the value you bring to your industry. Engage authentically, update regularly, and, most importantly, stay curious and connected!
Not only will it give you deeper insight, but it has the possibility to open doors and make connections you didn’t have previously. Also, since not everyone will take the time to write a thought piece, it can serve as a unique profile item. We tend to remember things that are novel.
About the author
Brendan Connaughton|Head of Growth Marketing
Brendan heads up growth marketing and demand generation at Qwilr, overseeing performance marketing, SEO, and lifecycle initiatives. Brendan has been instrumental in developing go-to-market functions for a number of high-growth startups and challenger brands.
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