Among all the social networks out in cyberspace, LinkedIn is a special one — it’s not a place just to be entertained or to share cute photos of your pets, it’s a platform to make professional and business connections.
This means that whether you’re looking for a job or want to find prospects for your business, LinkedIn is a great resource to accomplish your goals.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to set up a new or improve an existing LinkedIn profile.
Okay, let’s get started with the top of the page.
Name and Photo
Use your full name (no nicknames, please) and upload a professional head-shot for your photo (no selfies or pictures where you appear with other people). These are the first two things people will see, so get them right!
Think about it this way: you’re presenting yourself to a potential employer, business partner or client. So, smile, dress nicely, use a professional background and smile.
What’s the first impression you want to provide? Use common sense and post a photo where you look great. However, if you want more tips and tools on how to make your photo, check out this article.
Then there’s the banner image or background photo, a 1584 x 396 px picture that you can use for branding with a tagline or slogan. This banner will help you stand out and capture the attention of those who view your profile.
Here are some other elements you can include in your LinkedIn banner:
- Personal or company logo
- Website and social media handles
- Tagline or branded hashtags
Check out the example below:
Create your own LinkedIn banner here.
Next is something many people miss: customize your url. The default url that LinkedIn assigns you is long, has a bunch of numbers and would be impossible to remember. The good thing is that you can change it to something like this:
Check out the instructions on how to personalize your URL here.
These two are crucial to your success. They are the headline and the summary.
The profile headline is a one-liner (120 words) that tells people who you are and what you do. Think of it as your personal mission statement.
Avoid generic terms and use words that will resonate with your audience. Get creative but don’t go over the top with a funny or cheesy statement (unless you’re a comedian!).
When people search for connections on LinkedIn, they’ll see your headline and decide whether to click or even accept your connection request based on your headline. So, make it awesome.
By the way, did you know there are three headline styles you can choose from? Learn about them here.
The summary is where you tell people what you can help them with and why you’re the best at it. It’s more like a sales pitch than a resume. You can add contact info, links to projects, books, websites, videos and other elements that add to your credibility. You have a limit of 2,000 characters.
Famous author and speaker Simon Sinek’s is a good example. You can definitely get away with something a lot shorter but it's still a good read:
Now it’s time to build your credibility and show off your achievements and credentials.
More than job titles and tasks, what counts here is what you achieved at your job or business. What are some achievements you can list and add some numbers to prove it?
Check out this example from my own profile.
List your degrees, starting with your highest academic level. However, what you learned is more important than the classes you attended. You can also include activities and societies.
Licenses and Certifications
Some jobs and positions require certain skills that you can demonstrate through certifications, so highlight them here.
What you give to others outside your job or business reflects your values and your character, which is a plus in your profile. So, add your volunteer experience in a way that flows smoothly with the rest of your profile.
This section is especially useful for recent graduates who don’t have work experience or for people in transition who haven’t worked in a while.
Skills & Endorsements
Skills have a dual purpose -- they serve as keywords for people to find you on LinkedIn searches and they create opportunities for endorsements. You can add up to 50 skills but try to add at least five skills relevant to your profession, skills that will solve a problem for your ideal client or employer.
Your connections will see those skills listed on your profile and will be able to endorse them with just a click, which is great social proof for your skills.
Another form of social proof on LinkedIn are recommendations. Ask colleagues or clients to add a testimonial of your work and your character to your profile, highlighting the results and the contributions you made. One way to obtain recommendations is by giving them yourself and then asking others to return the favor.
Here’s another place to showcase your results and why you may be the right person to work with. In this section you can add Courses, Projects, Publications, Certifications, Honors and Awards, Patents, Test Scores, Languages and Organizations.
If you do all of the above, you’ll have a great LinkedIn profile. However, you can still make it better by following these tips:
- Enrich your profile with media such as videos -- you can either upload them to LinkedIn or just add a link to an external website. Instructions here.
- Remove the "people also viewed" section on the right side of your profile, so visitors won’t get distracted by checking out your lookalikes and forget about you. Click here to learn how to do it.
- Increase the number of connections to more than 500 to boost your credibility. Learn more here.
- Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry or your buyer persona
- Post interesting and professional information and interact with the content of others with insightful comments and recommendations.
LinkedIn is constantly changing and evolving, so keep abreast of what’s going on by following top influencers. Ah, and don’t forget to keep updating your profile as your career advances.
Looking to generate more leads on LinkedIn?