LinkedIn Profile Basics

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How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile a Winner!

Having a complete or All-Star LinkedIn profile is one of the most important things you can do to boost your personal brand.

That’s for the simple reason that when someone googles your name, your LinkedIn profile appears first in the search results. It is what people use to find out more about you professionally, whether they are thinking of hiring you, doing business with you, or responding to your request to connect.

Your profile is much more than just an online CV, it is the story of your professional life. From it, an observer should be able to learn about your work history, your areas of expertise and how good at those you are, the value you give back to the LinkedIn community, who you know in common, and your interests and community affiliations. They should leave your profile page thinking they know you.

How you present your LinkedIn profile will depend on your business career to date, what you want to achieve from LinkedIn and how you feel about sharing information about yourself with the rest of the world (LinkedIn now has 500 million users worldwide).

But no matter what you want from LinkedIn, there are some basic aspects of your profile that need to be complete for people to take you seriously. Because if you don’t and your profile isn’t complete, the message it sends is “I can’t be bothered keeping up with basic business practices”. Is that what you want conveyed to colleagues, peers, prospective employers (now and future), and clients or customers? I rather suspect not!

Your LinkedIn profile needs:

 A high-quality head and shoulders business photo. Not a wedding photo. Not a hunting, shooting or fishing photo. Or one with your spouse or your kids (unless that is relevant to your business). It shouldn’t be an obvious selfie, show acres of cleavage or in any other way demonstrate lack of care, professionalism or understanding of the photo’s purpose. You will also need an appropriate cover or hero image that sits at the top of your profile. You can see an example at the top of this page.

 A headline that is not your job title. It needs to be filled with the keywords you want to be known for because it forms part of LinkedIn’s SEO.

 A complete summary that is not just a list of your services or your skill set. It should tell the story of your professional life in a conversational or professional manner and give examples using video, links and other forms of online media. Make sure your contact details are listed here (and in the other appropriate places on your profile) including your personal and your company URLs, if you have them.

 Fully detailed job sections. Not just a copy of your CV. Hopefully, all your previous employers will have LinkedIn company pages so their logo will be displayed alongside the job. Otherwise, there’s only a square, grey box which does not add value or credibility to your profile.

 Plenty of endorsements and recommendations. The former are tied to LinkedIn’s SEO so if you want to be found in the searches, make sure your skills are all fully detailed.
The best way to get recommendations is to give them. Also, ask trusted business colleagues to write you recommendations.

 Good numbers of connections. In fact, a minimum of 500. This is even more important if you are not in the first few years of your working life. There should be a mix of colleagues, peers, industry leaders, business friends, network friends and even people you might think would not accept a connection request because they are leaders in their field. This gives you additional credibility.
As you gain more connections, you can become more picky. For instance, it is usually a clue that someone is not an active LinkedIn user if they have no profile photo, an incomplete profile and less than 350 connections.
If they have no Highlights section on their profile you can be certain that they are not interacting with the newsfeed or engaging with others’ posts and might therefore not be a worthwhile connection for you.
You no longer have to personally know people to connect with them on LinkedIn. In fact, connecting with strangers gives you more opportunities to learn, interact and engage with people in different countries, cultures and industries than you ever thought possible.

 A list of your educational qualifications. This is, fortunately, voluntary. If you don’t have qualifications take the Education section out entirely. It is better to be mysterious about your educational background than to name only your high school. Unless, of course, you went to a very prestigious school where just being alumni is a badge of honour.

 References to community activities and involvement. This is important to include as it gives others a point of reference or perhaps shows they have something in common with you.

There is, of course, more to a top quality LinkedIn profile than these basics. But you need to get these right first before you doing anything else on LinkedIn. Your credibility and professional integrity are at stake!

Writing your own LinkedIn profile can be somewhat tricky. We tend to play down our achievements; more so if we are women. But LinkedIn is no place to hide your light under a bushel so if you want a professionally written profile but don’t know how to achieve that, do get in touch with us. We are happy to help and can do so in a variety of ways. We also have a LinkedIn marketing programme, ConnectMe, which helps individuals and companies get more business from LinkedIn.