Creating a Compelling LinkedIn Profile Readable in 60 Seconds or Less
LinkedIn is a vast, powerful and free networking tool for professionals with over 120 million members. It is also a site that ranks highly with search engines, thus exposing members to an even wider audience worldwide. That’s why it’s important for all professionals to have a complete Profile on LI. However, it’s not enough just to have a Profile. Your Profile should be compelling! It should tell the world who you are as a professional – what you stand for, how you’re different from all the rest, what you’re passionate about, and how you’ve contributed in the workforce.
Last week, we began reviewing step-by-step how to create a proper Linked-In Profile… one that is complete, correct and compelling. We examined the basics: Name, Photo and Headline. Those are key since they start by announcing and validating who you are. But it is the rest of the sections that tell the story of who you are, and you need to do it in 60 seconds or less. Face it….that’s about the amount of time a person is going to spend reading your Profile.
LinkedIn Profile Sections (continued)
4. Summary Section
Your Summary should be a readable, persuasive synopsis about you as a professional. In this section, you should state briefly who you are and what expertise you bring to the table. Be succinct. Avoid using too many buzz words or vague claims that are canned or unverifiable, such as: Aggressive. Ambitious. Competent. Creative. Detail-oriented. Determined. Dynamic. Efficient. Fast-paced. Flexible. Goal-oriented. Hard-working. Independent. Innovative. Knowledgeable. Logical. Motivated. Meticulous. People person. Problem-solver. Professional. Reliable. Resourceful. Results-oriented. Self-motivated. Successful. Team player. Well-organized.
What words should you use? Instead of making empty claims to demonstrate your work ethic or experience, use brief, specific examples that demonstrate results or skills. For example, instead of saying “Results-oriented and experienced team player successful in increasing sales through hard work”, it would be more compelling to say “Leader with 20+ years experience, managing national sales teams of 10-30 executives who increased lead generation as much as 35% year-over-year and increased revenue up to 23% in one year.” The latter statement reflects a results-oriented, experienced, team player with a strong work ethic but in a way that is more concrete.
5. Specialties Section
This is a section that is often ignored on LI Profiles. But, like the Headline, it is a section that search engines crawl. Use every bit of space in this section to list all the keywords related to your abilities and expertise. There is a limit of 500 characters so don’t squander it by using adjectives, adverbs and connectors. List keywords that people might use in a search for specific skills or services. List them in a string, separated by commas. Here is an example of how it might look:
Social Media, Online Marketing, Business Development, Public Relations, PR, Writer, Blogger, Columnist; Blog Editor, Publication Editor, Content Developer, Website Development; Print and Digital Advertising, Branding, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Paid Search Campaigns, PPC, Email Marketing, E-Newsletters, Direct Mail Marketing, Customer Relationship Management, CRM, Sales Training, Sales Management, Point-of-Sale Materials, Event Planning, Continuing Ed Programs, Powerpoint Presentations
6. Employment Section
Post your current and past employers dating back about 10-15 years. If your employment history goes back farther than 15 years, simply cite your total years of experience in the Summary section. Add employers dating back more than 15 years only if those positions are key to showing certain experience or skills not reflected in more recent positions, or if there are people from those companies with whom you would like to network.
For some, listing 10-15 years of employment may only include one or two companies. For most, though, a list of past employers will include a lot of companies. Use the same judgment here that you use on your resume. Don’t list jobs where you didn’t work for very long unless it was a valuable summer internship or an important temporary consulting position. Listing more than 8-9 past jobs may make you seem old and/or unstable. If you are job-hunting now, make sure that what is on your resume matches what appears on your LinkedIn Profile. Chances are that potential employers and recruiters will check you out on LI.
For each past position, take the time to give not only the company name, your title and dates of employment, but also provide a detailed description of your responsibilities and results. Be detailed. Responsibilities handled in a particular job vary based on the person’s initiative, past experience, training and even the size and focus of the company. List results since those are more concrete and measurable.
If you are hunting for clients or business on LI, make sure your past experience reflects not only what you can do for them but also a track record of success. Remember that people do business people they know, like and trust. Showing past successes will surely serve to increase others’ level of trust with you.
Tip: Fleshing out the details of each past job is the part that stumps a lot of people. If you have trouble writing and can afford it, hire a freelance writer to help. The writer will ask questions, extract the information and write your Profile in a succinct, compelling way. It is worth the expense.
7. Languages Section
List every language you speak. If English is your primary language but you took four years of Spanish in college, you can indicate level of mastery ranging from elementary to full native proficiency. While you may not think that your ability to speak a little Hebrew or Chinese (because you heard your grandparents speak it) is important, that skill may increase the value of your Profile significantly. You or your company may get a business lead simply because of your ability to communicate in another language.
If your mastery of a language is such that you can translate from one language to another, upload a sample document that demonstrates your level of expertise. It is always a good idea to provide samples that show skill level. Documents are like pictures… they speak a thousand words.
Next week, we’ll look at how to set up some new sections on your LinkedIn Profile and we’ll reveal some little known tips to make your Profile even more ‘sticky.’ Don’t miss it.
Quote of the Week
“It takes great skill to tell a compelling story in under 60 seconds.” Michael Apted
© 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.