Most entrepreneurs and business professionals already have a LinkedIn profile, but not all of us have succeeded in getting the most out of it. A common tendency is to model one’s LinkedIn profile after one’s resume, but that is not necessarily the most effective approach to attracting visitors and potential contacts. After all, if your profile doesn’t stand out from the pack, why should anyone gravitate to it?
Instead of a rote summary of your qualifications, education, and experience, a compelling LinkedIn profile should demonstrate your unique personality, passions, and brand, and the practical applicability of your skill set.
A professional-looking photo engenders confidence.
This is really a no-brainer. People with LinkedIn profile photos tend to attract more page views than those without, and a professional-looking shot (in focus and with proper posing and lighting) conveys the impression that you’re both competent and attentive to details.
Try to portray yourself in a manner consistent with your professional brand and desired message. Consider whether a smile or a serious expression is more conducive to drawing the right people to your profile, whether you should wear a tie or a jacket, whether your sleeves should be fully extended or rolled up, what colour of outfit would be most appropriate. Even gestures that may seem inconsequential—like the interlocking-fingers pose made famous by German chancellor Angela Merkel—send body-language messages that can help to reinforce your personal brand.
What’s special about you?
Once people have seen your photo, they’ll move on to your profile summary—which should at least match the standard of the photo in terms of professional quality and attention to detail.
Of course, impeccable spelling, grammar, and syntax are indispensable here; if you have difficulty in any of these areas, you may want to enlist the proofreading skills of a trusted friend or associate. But there’s more to a great profile summary than just getting those elementary technical details right. You also need to communicate who you are and where you excel—preferably in a manner that’s engaging and memorable, but also informative. Use simple, comprehensible language, and be true to yourself.
Why are you passionate about the work you do? What professional achievements are you proudest of? And perhaps most importantly: what can you offer that would help others to achieve their goals?
Expand beyond the two-dimensional LinkedIn profile.
One of the great advantages that a website like LinkedIn offers over a traditional CV or job application, is the fact that it’s online. The dynamism of the Internet offers you the opportunity to go beyond a static photo and written summary, to not only describe what you can do, but to literally show people examples.
If you have YouTube videos, presentations, or multimedia files of which you’re especially proud, link to those from your LinkedIn page. You can even record a short introductory video in which you describe your strengths and passions.
Feel free to allude to your life outside the office—within reason.
Social factors often influence both hiring and client-relationship decisions. Most people prefer to work with others to whom they can relate, and with whom they get along. If you give the visitors to your profile an idea of your life circumstances, your personality, and the activities you enjoy away from the office, there’s a good chance that you’ll draw like-minded individuals to your LinkedIn page.
But use your discretion—the information you reveal will be visible to LinkedIn users everywhere for a very long time.
Don’t force people to hunt around for your contact information.
Prominently display your e-mail address, Twitter handle, links, and any other contact information you don’t mind sharing widely.