As part of my ongoing journey towards actually liking LinkedIn, I’ve been giving some training on the world’s largest professional network to my colleagues here at Warwick. Throughout these sessions, three key things have come up as being especially useful to my participants, so I’d thought I’d share them here.
Those things are what I’ve decided to call the holy trinity of a great LinkedIn profile – your photo, headline and summary. More than anything else, get these right and you’ll set yourself up to have a top-notch profile – an important aspiration on LinkedIn, where your profile is incredibly important – perhaps more so than on other networks.
The profile photo
When you’re putting together/updating your LinkedIn profile, make sure you upload a relevant, recent and professional-looking photo – either get someone to take one of you or follow this guide produced by LinkedIn themselves and shoot it on your phone. For a start, profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed, so you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t upload one.
Chances are, your LinkedIn profile image will differ from what you use on other networks. Here’s my LinkedIn profile.
Whereas here’s what I use on Facebook and Twitter (top), and Instagram.
You’ll notice my LinkedIn photo is far more relevant to my day job, which makes loads of sense given that LinkedIn is where I do my professional networking and career-related stuff. On the other hand, I talk about my band a lot on Facebook and Twitter, so a picture of me singing for said band is appropriate, while Instagram is about photography, hence my image choice.
My LinkedIn photo is also recent and it definitely still looks like me – if yours is a few years old maybe consider changing it. Also, I like to think that I look professional and approachable in my LinkedIn photo, crucial if you want people to feel like they can connect with you.
Let me say this now; your headline is NOT your job title. Yes, your headline might default to your current job position, but don’t be fooled. Your headline is a really valuable tool for getting your profile seen, because a whopping 50% of your LinkedIn SEO comes from it.
My job title is Senior Online Communications Officer (Social Media). Snappy, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world with that job title. I’d be pretty lucky if someone searched LinkedIn for that.
Instead, look at the first part of my LinkedIn headline – ‘Social media strategist, analyst, trainer and speaker’. That is a far more accurate reflection of what I actually do at work and what skills I have. Also, handily, it has plenty of keywords in there that people in my industry are likely to be searching for.
In short, it’s much better.
Also, don’t be afraid to throw in some personality too. You’ll see I also have the slightly ambitious ‘Future rock star’ in my headline. Chances are if someone meets me, hears me speak, follows me on social media or reads a blog I’ve written, I will throw in a reference to my band (I’ve already done it in this post). That’s the kind of thing people remember, so by throwing it in your headline you’re helping find you later, as well as standing out from the crowd.
Yes, there might be other social media professionals out there on LinkedIn, but how many are also future rock stars?
Also, as you should aim to do with your entire profile, keep your headline up to date and relevant to what you’re doing now. You can update your headline as often as you like, so make the most of that and update it as your job and/or circumstances change.
Another key part of your LinkedIn SEO is the summary, which you use to sell yourself in a few sentences, with some relevant keywords woven into the mix (but done naturally, not just shoved in). Think of the summary as the landing page for a website about you – give it plenty of your personality, make it interesting and, if you’re feeling brave, include a call to action and actively invite people to connect with you!
Let’s take a look at my summary one sentence at a time…
Having realised some time ago that I was never going to get the call from Aston Villa’s scout and while I still wait for my band to get that big break, I’ve spent my time helping organisations use social media in a strategic and effective manner.
In one sentence you know that I’m a social media strategist, that I’m in a band and that I support a terrible football team (and hopefully you can tell that I have a sense of humour).
My career has grown from being given responsibility for a local authority’s Twitter account because I was the only person in the office who knew how to use it, through to being an experienced social media strategist with a particular passion and specialism in analytics and evaluation, as well as delivering training and speaking about social media.
My career so far in a sentence – nearly seven years of work summarised neatly. Also, notice those juicy keywords like ‘analytics’, ‘evaluation’, ‘training’ and, of course ‘social media’. Obviously you do now I’ve pointed them out. Do they feel overly contrived sitting there? Hopefully not.
I am currently the strategic lead for social media at the University of Warwick, a Russell Group University in the West Midlands of the UK, as well as the co-chair for the CASE Europe Social Media and Community Conference for 2016 and 2017.
Only here do I say what I’m doing now – your summary should be an overview of your skills and career first, rather than putting loads of emphasis on your current role. Don’t be afraid to move details of your current role further down your summary.
Being a social media professional, I’m more than likely to mention the word ‘content’ at any given moment, which is probably why I spend a lot of my spare time creating it; whether it’s blogging about social media, sharing my music and urban photography or running my own podcast championing the West Midlands’ heavy music scene, I like to keep busy and keep posting.
Another attempt at humour, some more keywords and an overview of what I get up to outside of work. This is important – it shows you’re a real person who isn’t tied to their desk and instead has some sense of balance in their life. Having a passion is good – talk about it here!
If you’d like to chat about using social media effectively, would be interested in having me speak at your event or just want a couple of great new bands to listen to, please connect with me and say hello!
There it is, my call to action, my invitation to connect. I’m an introvert naturally, so this is quite a bold thing for me to include, but I’m glad I do.
That summary gives, in my opinion, a solid idea of who I am and what I’m about. If someone read that and didn’t want anything to do with me, that’s cool, as I’d probably not want anything to with them either. However, if someone reads it and is interested to get in touch, they absolutely can.
So there you go, the holy trinity of a solid LinkedIn profile – there’s loads more advice I could share for boosting your profile game, so maybe I’ll revisit that in a future post, but if you get these sorted you’ll be off to a cracking start.
Seen a great LinkedIn headline or summary? Let me know in the comments. And, of course, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn too!