This is the third part of my LinkedIn pointers miniseries. In the first we looked at the top of the page (photo, headline, etc.) and in the second we focused on connecting and netiquette. Today I’ll talk about the main part of your page on this important business site.
Tailor your profile order
The sections in the “meaty” part of the LinkedIn page used to be fixed in a particular order starting with the summary, but you can now arrange them as you prefer by just clicking the arrow in the top right corner of the section in question and dragging it where you want. This means you can highlight the parts of your profile that you feel are going to interest your potential clients the most and help you stand out from the crowd.
At the time of writing, I’ve decided to put the certifications section first to highlight the fact that I’ve now passed the ITI exam, followed by my experience and then the summary. If you have any certifications, it’s a good idea to put them in this separate section as the profiles of members that have done so apparently receive more views.
LinkedIn is your online CV
Although your LinkedIn profile page is your online “CV”, it’s probably best not to just dump its contents in the summary or experience sections without substantial changes. Your content should ideally be tailored to the medium. This is the Internet; it’s a less formal, more personal place where you can connect with potential clients and colleagues, so don’t write about yourself in the third person as this could make you sound too stuffy and unapproachable, or even that another has written the description for you.
You need to grab people’s attention while being true to yourself and not coming across as something that you’re not. One of the ways you can do this is by adding media (a relatively new feature on LinkedIn) to your summary, experience and/or education sections.
Up to 2,000 characters are allowed in the summary, so use them wisely. That might mean writing as much as possible because you have a lot to say, or writing a short, snappy paragraph that will entice the reader to delve further and contact you.
Don’t forget to make sure it includes essential keywords as well to help you get found in searches. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that people are all busy these days. The quicker they can assimilate your information and find out whether you are the right professional for them, the better.
It’s very difficult for me to give you any advice on what to put in your summary, because essentially it needs to portray who you are and focus on what you want LinkedIn to do for you. As you can imagine, this will differ hugely from person to person, which is great, because the more your description of yourself feels like a stand-alone text, the more you will come across as unique and memorable.
By all means read advice and browse others’ profiles, but then sit back, relax and let the real you shine through. Don’t try to copy someone else’s style, and whatever you do, don’t plagiarise here on LinkedIn or anywhere else in your marketing material, because your colleagues will probably find out and not take kindly to the “flattery”, to put it mildly.
Be you. And don’t be afraid to be you.
If a potential client is put off by you being you, then you’re not a good fit and you’d be better off without them. You cannot possibly please everyone all the time. Accepting that fact and letting go of trying to be everything to everyone can be very liberating, uplifting and, ultimately, better for your business.
If you want to go for the hard sell (and I see this recommended more and more often these days, although it’s not really ever been “me”), then think in terms of what you have done for your past clients and what you can do for new potential ones that will help them sell more and increase their profits. Why would you be better at that than any of your colleagues offering the same services? What makes you special? Highlight any of your past experiences, education and/or strengths that can underline your points and persuade clients to contact you for a quote.
Your summary could also tell a story, a potted history of your career, for example, or just some relevant highlights. If the path you have trodden is unusual and you manage to write an engaging paragraph or two, then you will have hooked your reader and perhaps gained a client. Loads of profiles contain the same corporate speak and buzzwords. Daring to be different with some compelling personal details that weave a mini story or two could prove more effective at grabbing people’s attention.
You could even go for both approaches, given that the description box in the experience section also allows you to enter up to 2,000 characters.
Whatever you do, though, don’t waste the opportunity to provide useful information by leaving the summary or the experience sections blank. It’s also a good idea to include a list of specialities at the end of one of the sections in an easily readable bullet-point list. This is not only good for SEO, but it also helps readers quickly identify whether you have the experience and qualifications they are looking for.
In Part Four I’ll look at the remaining sections you can add to your LinkedIn profile.