It’s surprising how many people have a very superficial personal profile on LinkedIn. The lack of a photograph, sketchy information and a brief one-line work history is unlikely to impress customers, prospects or candidates if you’re recruiting.
On the other hand, a couple of hours spent updating your LinkedIn Personal Profile will pay dividends over the weeks and months, as it will make you more findable, more engaging and present you much more professionally. Having a smart profile, and dressing for success online in LinkedIn probably has the most impact on results you achieve. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Here is a quick run through of the ten steps to move from a minimal profile to a LinkedIn Personal Profile that will pay dividend and support your network building and lead generation activity in LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Personal Profile Checklist
Optimise your profile in these 10 areas so it’s professional, engaging and has social proof.
- Contact details
- Current role
- Add video and slides
- Review and add skills around keywords
- Join groups where your prospects are
- Give and request testimonials
- Grow your network to 500+ contacts.
Upload an image that makes you look friendly and approachable. It doesn’t need to be formal and stuffy, but it should project you as professional. You can add logos to it if you wish. A crisp, clear professional photograph is impressive, but a well composed one taken on a decent smartphone will do the job very well.
This is a really good opportunity to make a strong first impression by highlighting your value to customers and prospects. This is what you leave as your calling card when you comment in discussion groups and like other people’s comments, It’s what shows up in searches as well as when people visit your profile. Highlight your expertise and the customer benefits you deliver. Add your job title and company at the end. Include keywords that you want to be found for. You have about 60 characters so make full use of them.
This is your opportunity to shine, especially in the first 80-200 characters, for mobile and the new user interface. If you are in a sales role don’t focus on sales achievements. Focus instead on demonstrating your ability to add value to client businesses, along with evidence of business benefits achieved if possible. If you are the business owner provide a mix of personal and company messages, and highlight customer value, along with your ambition for your business and ways others might be able to help you, for example specific introductions you would value. Including some trigger events that typically start conversations between prospects and you will really make you stand out. Add Specialisations at the end as a way to include keywords.
It may sound obvious but assuming you want to be contacted by potential customers take a moment to fill out your phone number and address. Make sure it’s your business email address showing and update your LinkedIn profile URL to remove the default numbers. Add your Twitter name, and update the website addresses, choosing the ‘Other’ option so you can update the text descriptions. You could even include a link to your email newsletter subscription page, for example, or your Slideshare or YouTube channel.
This is very prominent in the new User Interface so maximise the message here. Highlight 3-4 major achievements in your current role, along with the areas you are responsible for, or expertise that you possess. As a sales person or sales director, make it clear that your focus is on delivering customer benefits, not just in achieving your sales targets. As a business owner, paint a picture of your value and uniqueness to clients, as well as your roles and responsibilities for running your company. Avoid the temptation to cut and past the ‘About us’ section from your website here. Include evidence and social proof as well, to increase your credibility. Make sure to include keywords in the copy, and a ‘Specialisations’ section at the end.
You have the opportunity to add visual media at the end of each section of your profile. If you have video or slide presentations they can be easily added here, as can documents that are hosted on the web. For lead generation, consider creating a short – 6-8 slides – on a topic that your prospects are concerned about, which you can help them with. Avoid selling a solution, but outline the main areas and issues that they should be considering. You can also add slides and video from other sources, so you can enhance your credibility on the back of material from trade associations, research companies, supplier, partners and so on.
Being at the top of the LinkedIn search for the main fee earning or client solution skills is a great way to generate inbound inquiries. Expanding your skills section to 30, 40 or even 50 skills, and then using them in the body copy and headlines of your profile is a solid strategy. Done well and you may also appear toward the top of Google and search engine rankings too. LinkedIn has had a very useful skills application that was a great prompt for discovering additional skills and keyword phrases. Keep an eye out to see if they re-introduce it. Endorsements for skills has a tarnished reputation, but there are several reasons why they are worth giving and receiving. The TOPIC area of LinkedIn is useful for research. Start with http://www/linkedin.com/topic/sales/ Change the last word for your major skill (use a hyphen if it’s 2 words eg /lead-generation/
Some people are reluctant to join groups, and others belong to college or former employer groups, and professional and trade groups. Useful thought these are, the primary ones to focus on are those where your customers and prospects are more likely to be members. Sharing news and updates with potential customers is far more worthwhile than reading and commenting on sales and marketing oriented groups, unless you’re looking to partner with them. Update the order of your groups within LinkedIn so the prospect oriented ones appear at the top of your Groups display list.
The social proof value of customer endorsements can be very high. When they are given they are circulated around the contacts of both parties. Giving and receiving 10-20 testimonials will provide social proof that you are a generous giver and also that you have delivered value to clients too. For people in sales roles and business owners the value of testimonials from colleagues is limited. Giving testimonials for colleagues and suppliers is a positive move though.
As a sales person, sales director or business owner there is much to be gained by getting through the 500 contacts level. This indicates that you take LinkedIn seriously, and it gives you a good reach when you share content as Status Updates. If the growth is with customers and prospects rather than colleagues and people who you are very unlikely to do business with your network becomes a very valuable resource for you.
Fast-track your way to an optimised profile
It can be difficult to recognise our own strengths and find the right words and phrases to put them across. It’s rather too easy to put off the task of creating a professional, engaging and optimised LinkedIn Personal Profile.
One of the services that we offer is to interview sales people and business owners and write the major sections of their profile for them. I’ve written over 100 in the past few months, either for individuals or as part of working with company executives and their management and sales team. You can find more about our ‘Pimp your LinkedIn Profile Rewrite Service’ here.