Transform your LinkedIn Profile

Have you ever wondered, how are some people on LinkedIn getting so much attention, where most of us just go unnoticed. I’ve been using LinkedIn for close to 10 years now and I’ll show you how to step up your game to get attention from your target audience and send the right message to them!

I along with Bert Verdonk – the CEO of Scredible – will teach you how to stand out on LinkedIn, because you need to with over 1 Billion searches conducted every day.

Key issues with average LinkedIn profiles

Profile pic

Basic and boring profile headline

What is the biggest mistake on LinkedIn? Using LinkedIn as a billboard instead of a tool

 In today’s world, people look other people up online before they meet them.  So if your LinkedIn profile looks shabby, they are making 50% of their mind up before ever meeting you.

Create a strong ROI (Return on Investment)

First search yourself online

Profile – to give visability ROI = Be Found + Look Good Online

Presence – Connectivity ROI = Strong Network

Participate – Likeability ROI = Reputation Informed/Context

Publish Online – Credibility ROI = Marketing / Awareness, Personal Brand/ Social Capital

Position – Trustability ROI = Respected Leader, Role Model

Your profile needs to stand out, you need to be seen as a thought leader, advocate for your organization, you can be perceived as a top professional who people want to do business with and you can use LinkedIn as a tool.

When people can’t find you online what happens?? Nothing.  Let’s increase the opportunities for people to find you.

What’s in a name? How can you increase people finding you when they don’t know the correct spelling of your name. By having a paragraph in your profile of misspelling your name it brings up your profile first.

Bert Verdonck for example puts it in other experience folder.

If your pic doesn’t look good then you are not going to get any attention.  First, your pic has to look professional. 

Profile pic tips

  1. Professional pics no drinks especially alcohol, no kids, no animals if you can’t crop the pic properly find a different pic
  2. Use a headshot, not a full body shot, even just your upper body is not ideal
  3. Be sure to relax and smile
  4. Consider your background a neutral background is preferable, in some cases a branded background is acceptable
  5. Use a current photo, an old photo can break trust when someone meets you in person and sees that it’s clearly a photo from a long time ago.  Think dating websites.

Your background photo is important too

  1. Use JPeg as the photo format
  2. No larger than 4 MB’s
  3. Pixel 1000 x 125, 4000 x 4000

You can reposition the background photo

Branded background large or mid-size company, even go to your company to pick a good background pic.

On your profile pic, ensure you centre it on yourself and click who is available to, don’t pick your network, pick everyone.

Your LinkedIn headline

Use what you are an expert on. I.e. LinkedIn expert and trainer.  Look at what Bert Verdonck has done on his LinkedIn profile. He’s a:

Scredible ambassador

Lifehacker, which can let people know you look to achieve extreme efficiency, with a witty attitude

He offers a free bestselling book on scredible.com

He put on that he is a Happy Chocoholic, which is quite a personal item but he is shocked at how many people reach out to him and start by talking to him about chocolate.

Headline Tips

Tell them why they should choose you from search

Explain what you do

Share what you can do for them (Free content)

Offer a conversation starter (being a chocolate lover as an example)

Use a thought-provoking statement

Add something you have in common

Tell them something unexpected

Use dividers | To increase readability

Use your 120 characters wisely

Make your profile appealing to your target audience.

Fill in your location and industry.

There’s a blue pen to the right of your profile pic, click on it and it will allow you to edit and add the info to your profile.  Your country is in a drop-down box.

Now here’s what you need to pay attention to before you click save.  On your zip code or postal code, you should know that some employers are completing searches by a geographic location on average there are 2 zip codes you use, one at home and one at work.  You can only use 1 zip code or postal code so you need to prioritize where you want to show up. Do you want to work closer to home or is there much more work closer to where you work. Just as a tip if they search a city it will pull up profiles who have a zip code or postal code, 35 miles from the centre of the city.

Industry

LinkedIn has updated its industry list to be more comprehensive.  In the same menu as the location below you will find the industry which will have lots of options but you can only choose 1 industry.  It can be a bit of a complicated decision because if you’re a recruiter for a car dealership, Is your industry Human Resources, Staffing and Recruiting or Automotive.  Sometimes it’s best to talk to your marketing team within your organization and they may have a more encompassing view on the industry that will get you noticed the most.  Keep in mind people’s biases (depending on your employer they may have an interest in you not getting noticed as much in order to keep you in your current role).

Employers are searching by city and industry so choose wisely!

There is a difference in what type of contact details to get in touch with you.

There you can add your phone number, email, instant messenger, mail address.

Make sure your email is professional and up to date.  If you have an old email address that you don’t use anymore there’s a good chance people have been reaching out to you and being ignored.

Next is Instant Messenger.  For me what comes to mind is MSN Messenger but it’s much more up to date than that.  It has AIM, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and a few others.

You can add your phone number, so you need to decide if you want to use your work phone or personal phone, it’s good to keep in mind that generally, you will get calls during normal business hours so if you get a call for a job opportunity when your having a staff meeting in your office, it may not be ideal; alternatively you may have a fair bit of privacy at your work that could be a suitable phone number to use.

For your address, you can include multiple addresses for your work, especially if you travel to those locations for work.  I think this goes without saying but do not use your home address unless you run an at-home business and you have fully considered the implications to your privacy.  It is only your connections that can see your address just to be clear it is not public.

When people are impressed with your profile they want to get to know you.  You never know what doors it could open.

What can anyone on LinkedIn see? You can link other social media accounts.  Only do this if they are for professional purposes if you add an Instagram account that is your personal account it could send the wrong impression.  You can also allow LinkedIn access to your social media account, that allows you to cross-post an update on multiple accounts. I use it to send updates on Facebook and Instagram so it saves me time and keeps me active on both accounts.

You can add up to 3 websites.  When you add a website you can list it under ‘other’ and that will bring up a bar where you can tag keywords or phrases that can draw more attention to your profile.

Click on the view your public profile button, once there you can see the blue pen on the right-hand side under the contact info.  You will see you have a personalized LinkedIn URL, you can personalize it more to have just your name and not the extra numbers, try it and see if it’s not already taken (you can always add a number behind it, Johndoe1).  HINT: By modifying your personalized LinkedIn URL it shows people that you are not a novice on LinkedIn.  It will also increase the rank in your search results in Google.

In your current experience, you should add some text explaining ways to connect with you at work, and communication preferences.  If you don’t like standard connection requests on LinkedIn, let people know you prefer a personal comment. You can also add a link to an industry or business forum if they have questions about your work or company.  By having them do this on a public forum you can make those Q&A’s easy to find for others with the same question.

Always look your best by providing the right kind of info. And the next steps for profile visitors.  The easier you make it for people to get good info. About your or your company the easier it is to do business with you.

Your summary on LinkedIn

What do you want to accomplish with your summary?  You want visitors to your profile to want to read on. There are some ways to increase your readability, your company probably has a one-paragraph description of corporate branding, an overview of what your organization does.  

If you work for a large multinational organization you may need 2 paragraphs, 1 to cover a broad overview of what your organization does, and 2, a paragraph specifically about what your department does.  This will draw people to look at your professional role in the organization or what is known in the industry as professional branding. What is it that you do? Be specific but do not give too much detail.  You can also add what you are not looking for. In a previous job I worked in real property asset management, my job title did not include real property in it and I was surprised at how many Banks wanted to connect with me as they have similar job titles but very different portfolio’s as far as assets go.  Your summary is not complete until you add a paragraph of professional branding, you can choose full sentences or even key phrases. Your summary has a max of 2,000 words so be concise. More details can be shared in your experience section of your profile.

Link to Media section

Most profiles do not use the media section and that is a missed opportunity.  You can add a Youtube video. In edit your profile, under your summary, you will find a link to media button and that’s where you can paste in a video link.  You are not limited to Youtube you can link material right off of your laptop, just add a description. This is a great way to add some images to have your profile stand out above the rest.  Make sure you stay professional and in line with your professional branding.

Do you have a goal in mind with your experience section? include a more in-depth explanation of your corporate branding.  Then explain your role in the organization and what do you do on a daily basis, why should someone get in touch with you, when should they get in touch with you.  If you are not the right person to speak with how they can be properly directed in your company.

What are your results, make them as tangible as possible it’s great to share them, people like to see you are proud of your results and that you are responsible for achieving them.  If you can’t share exact #’s can you provide %’s. Be careful not to break confidentiality with your organization, what you put out here is out in the public and you do not want to infringe on your companies policies or your responsibility to protect their information.  You should check within your organization what you are planning to add to share with the internet and make sure you get the right approvals first before posting the info. Be careful if you want to refer to one of your customers as this may cause other issues.

Add what you do not want, such as Banks contacting me about Asset Management.

Some people add their contact info again.  Your profile is about you but it is also about facilitating your target audience.

How relevant is your prior experience?

Describe your previous role, what did you do, what did you love about that job, what did you learn and use language that is engaging with your target audience. What was your biggest achievement, can you use actual #’s? Do you have permission to share this info? Vary up your language i.e. Project Management (PM, P.M.).  The goal is that people actually find you.  

Add a call to action at the end of your each job experience section, “If you want more details about these concepts or designs, please feel free to reach out to me.” More people will reach out to you.  It’s okay to start providing less job detail after about 10 years, or so. As often it plays less of a role of what you are doing today. For job-seekers its good to show your career path. Recruiters love to dig into your past and how it has shaped your skill set for what you can potentially be a good fit for.

People are looking for visual clues that your profile.  One of the first ways to add rich content is SlideShare, it does an amazing job as being indexed and ranked in Google and Bing.  It is easy to add this content to your profile. To check out other content providers check out embed.ly

Note: only content that has a public URL can show up on an embedded link.

You want to highlight any honours or awards you have received from your job.  You want to show your target audience just how accomplished you are in your professional field.  Stick with things related to your profession, there is another section for hobbies. If you haven’t received any then leave it blank.

If you have a certification add it in the certification section and you do not need to put it in layman’s terms.  Some jobs require certifications and you are showing that you hold that certification and that you meet standards for industry requirements.  It may get you ranked higher than another candidate.

Did you know you can add projects you can add your client to the project and invite them to share it on their profile as well, it will also get you more hits to your profile.  Add a website and project description as well, be sure not to break confidentiality and ensure your company and stakeholders are okay with you promoting it.

Tips on writing an article on LinkedIn

Write about your area of expertise

Use your speaking voice, it sounds more authentic

Grab the reader’s attention with your title

Be specific with your numbers, examples, and stats, make sure it’s verifiable

Stick to posts in 300 – 500 words

Post on Thursdays and Sundays because Monday’s and Friday’s get the most traffic on LinkedIn.

Be consistent and publish often

After you’ve published content share with an update on your LinkedIn profile to make sure it gets out to your network

Add value on LinkedIn with free tips

Give and take is different that give and receive.  The difference is that give and receive does not have any expectation of getting something back in return.  By giving away convenient things or tips it can get someone to refer back to your profile or tell their friends about your profile and about you. I’ve got another blog post all about developing free content, check it out here.

Content examples

  • 5 mistakes people make when buying your products and how to overcome them
  • 3 things most users of your services don’t know
  • 7 ways to boost productivity when using your products
  • 3 questions to ask before buying your services

Tip the more you stop giving the more you stop receiving. By providing answers to peoples burning questions people will share their ideas and problems with you creating a complimentary muse relationship.

“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Featured skills and endorsements

Say more with less in some instances.  LinkedIn has a ridiculous amount of skills you can choose from (or create) but it doesn’t mean that Fire Breathing should be listed on your profile unless you work in a circus.  Languages is another one, there is a whole section in LinkedIn for languages, it will likely receive better attention there. Avoid buzz words, like motivated, passionate, dynamic, synergizing.  It about creating a good first impression, so if you list Leadership as one of your skills and current and past colleagues endorse you for it and you have 90 endorsements for Leadership then to those looking at your profile it will speak for itself.  Did you know you can add up to 50 skills. If you use the blue pencil you can change the order in how the skills show up or you can delete a skill you have been endorsed for. Additionally, if you’ve had a falling out with someone you can prevent that person from showing up on the list for endorsing you.

Common Questions

Should I have recommendations on my profile?

How many recommendations?

How do I ask for recommendations? Don’t ask people for recommendations

Yes, you need recommendations. Consider amazon reviews, who buys a product with zero reviews.  Bert gives a specific example “Kristle is a great person with a brilliant sense of humor!” tells you almost nothing.  You need a recommendation that provides some specifics to the position, provide tangible results and indicate your relationship with that person and what specific skills you appreciate. Having more recommendations is better after 5-7 is a decent amount (Verdonck).

If you do want to ask for recommendations, always give people a way out or it can become quite awkward and uncomfortable.  Ask if they would like input from me, or if I can give them a draft after that let them know that you will ask them for a formal recommendation on LinkedIn.

Scroll to the Recommendations section, next to received and given is Ask for recommendations.  It has two points, one is what do you want to be recommended for, and two is, who do you want to ask, just fill in your recommenders name.  He or she must be a 1st-degree connection. Now, wait for their recommendation, if it doesn’t arrive you can send a gentle reminder but don’t push it.  When you receive it, proofread it. If you’re happy with it publish it on your profile, if you’re not happy with it call the person and have a conversation about it, it might be a small tweak that is no issue to fix.  People who get recommendations like to give recommendations, keep that in mind, especially if you have asked for a recommendation. It could be a more subtle approach to give someone a recommendation first and see if they reciprocate, make sure all of your recommendations are worthwhile and remember to try and use tangible items, identify the skills they have that you appreciate and reflect the relationship you have with them, i.e. client, colleague, etc… Be careful about receiving recommendations or endorsements to each other too close in time, if you give each other an endorsement on the same day it looks like a setup.

Remember when people are looking at recommendations they are looking for ones that are genuine and if they appear manufactured they will do the opposite of building trust.

Education

It’s surprising how often there is little to no info. Listed on people’s profiles for education.  In the Education section, it allows you to type in your college or university, your field of study, what years you attended or will graduate in the future and a description section where you can fill out why you chose this field of study.  If someone has typed in your school, college or university it will automatically pop up. There is a section where you can add in your GPA, only put it in if it’s a good mark and you’re proud of it, otherwise, it’s fine to leave it blank. Is it worth listing your highschool? It depends, did you really enjoy highschool? Would you want to possibly connect with your high school alumni? If yes, then add it.  While you were in school often you will have worked on group projects, gotten to know each other in class and developed a relationship. Those people will remember you and you never know maybe that could provide a great contact at another company you want to work for or with.  

Businesses, recruiters and people, in general, are interested in finding out if you are ambitious and in a state of continuous learning.  It’s easy to show that on LinkedIn, just click on your “Me” button, click on add new profile section and fill it out, it’s that easy, whether it was a course or a certification, just keep in mind if it is helping with your “professional branding”, if you are in real estate it is probably not worth adding the course you took in flair bartending.  For certifications, you can also attach a copy of your certification. 

There is a compliance unit within LinkedIn that is looking to check to ensure users info. Is accurate.  They may lock your profile and send you a notice if they suspect fake credentials have been used. So make sure you only mention real courses and certifications.

If you are looking at hiring someone who is invested in continuous learning or someone that has stopped learning, who do you want working for you?

Personal touches to your profile

Profiles on LinkedIn are often so professional there are no personal statements, which is a bit of a mistake.  Small personal touches, let people know you have a life outside of work and that you’re human. Bert Verdonk included the Happy Chocoholic in his professional headline.  There are many places where you can add it in your headline, summary, experience or volunteer work but keep your target audience in mind. You don’t want to put off someone in your target audience because you add in something that is too far out there for them.  You have a good idea who your target audience is and you can make a judgement call on how conservative they are, at least before you develop a relationship with them. By having a personal touch it can be one of the small things that develop common interests which make it easier to get to know a person.  “Remember you cannot please 100% of people all the time, that is not your goal.”
“41% of employers say volunteer work is as important as paid work” – LinkedIn
It’s a great way to make connections.  Adding your volunteer work can be a great way to start conversations, and show how you give back to the community or charity. 

SEO and  Keywords

Keywords are words that are relevant to your target audience when searching for you.  Consider your target audiences perspective, what would their searches look like, what words would they use? 

Verdonk gives a good example of this.  He was working with a communication company who was looking to hire a new manager of one of their communication teams.  Many of the profiles listed had job titles such as Team Leader or Team Manager, but in their company, they were using Team Coaches, so the company was getting poor results from LinkedIn users.  This is the way you have to consider how your target audience could possibly miss your profile if you don’t consider what words they would use when searching.  
It can be as simple as Doctor:

Dr., Dr, Phd., Phd, MD, M.D.

“Back in the early days of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), they would prioritize profiles that had more keywords than other profiles.” – Bert Verdonk

People started to outsmart these algorithms by adding the same keywords over and over again.  If you would read them they would seem weird. In response Search Engines and LinkedIn have stopped giving a higher ranking to these profiles, you can even get punished, by receiving a lower ranking if you keep focusing on keyword density.  Every word on your profile is searchable so it will show up but try and keep it in a natural way and not an artificial way.

When looking at interactions on LinkedIn Groups by far how the most engagement.  This can be a good way to share your ideas but it is important that you have your profile in order before joining.  Make sure your profile stands out especially from your direct competitors. By being active in these groups especially if you are actively asking good questions or providing excellent answers, it is not only the person who you are answering that is going to notice you, others in the group will too.   This starts to apply more when you are in a group where you are creating great content on your own that is relevant. Where a profile search is one on one a group can significantly increase the traffic to your profile and have more opportunities for you to impress people, possibly in your target audience.

Participation inequality – Jacob Nielsen

1:9:90 rule – Proactive, Reactive, Passive

It says that 90% of users don’t contribute to the subject (readers), 9% will engage and respond in conversation, and 1% and creating the content and starting the conversations.

It can be a great way to help people with their problems and promote you as a knowledge provider.  Don’t try and sell people your products in this forum as it comes off as a sales gimmick breaks any trust you were forming with them. 

Have you heard of LinkedIn influencers program? You can look up LinkedIn influencers and you will see a list of strong thought leaders.  It is easy to follow a thought leader you admire by going to their profile clicking on the … beside their picture and click follow, then you will start to see your newsfeed being populated with posts from these thought leaders.  You can share their articles, possibly getting noticed by them but also, others might start noticing you too. Be sure to add a comment on it when you are sharing it and not just forwarding it on. It can also be a great way to get inspired to create new content on your own. 

Privacy settings

When considering your privacy settings, LinkedIn has done a good job of letting you see what others see when they look at your profile.  Go to your profile and on the right-hand side, you will see a tab that says View your public profile, click on it, and see how your profile shows to others.   Under the “Me” button at the top of the page, click on it and you will find a tab that says Privacy Settings, click on it. There are 3 tabs the first is your account, make sure you have a professional email address but also add a personal one.  LinkedIn only shows your primary email address publicly. Next click on the Privacy tab, under it on the right-hand side it shows you all of the boxes of what can be shown publicly, check off everything. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.  Under profile viewing options you can select whether or not to show your name and headline, private profile characteristics or private mode. Again choose your name and headline because you want people to know who visited their profile, and this way they can click on you and look at your profile back.  You can also notify your connections when you are in the news, check yes on this box, the more people that get notified when you do something the better. You can also focus on communications, who can send you invitations, everyone on LinkedIn, Only people who know your email address, or only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list. Check the box on anyone from LinkedIn to have the highest visibility.  You can also put in your preferences on messages from members if you will accept introductions from InMail or just introductions. Underneath you can let other members know what kind of messages you’re most interested in, just check the boxes that apply to you.

Protip: Go back to your account settings in the Privacy and Settings tab.  Scroll down to the Autoplay videos tab, it is preset to yes, go and uncheck that box to no.  If someone is in a meeting or on the bus or in the mall if the autoplay setting is on it will just start playing.  This can frustrate someone who comes across one of your videos and embarrass or annoy them or use more data then they want.

Mobile app tips: Both the mobile app and your web page remembers your search results, so if someone unexpected shows up in your meeting you can quickly look them up and then go on to the next unexpected person because LinkedIn will remember your search history. Very handy!

When looking to connect with someone using the mobile app, find their profile, click on the … at the top of the page and click on add a customized invitation and send it out.

Want to stand out even more?  If you want to write upside down or in mirror text or backwards, there are many sites on the internet to do this and just copy and paste them on your profile.  Bert also has a few lines of special characters that can be handy to just copy and paste.

My key summary for this blog is

Make sure your profile comes off as polished, people are making up 50% of their mind before ever reaching out to you. 

Use a professional-looking headshot and background photo, and come up with a headline that is professional and stands out in 120 characters or less, use dividers | to separate the topic.

Chip away at improving your profile by working on it just 15 minutes a day. 

Use your profile and what you do on LinkedIn to focus on building trust, ask yourself is this genuine and authentic?

Keep your target audience in mind, broaden your language to come up in more search results.

If you have a difficult to spell name, provide alternative spellings somewhere in your profile to make it easier for people to find you.

References

Nielsen, J. (2006, October 9). The 90-9-1 Rule for Participation Inequality in Social Media and Online Communities. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/participation-inequality/ 

Verdonck, B. (n.d.). LinkedIn Profiles for Social Business Success. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/LinkedIn-tutorials/Welcome/512777/581571-4.html?org=nait.ca 

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