During the course of my business day, I review many LinkedIn profiles. I am impressed by the various approaches that people take in populating (or not) each section of the document, and representing themselves. Most profiles are nondescript or skeletal. There is no energy, no storytelling. What exists on the page is a pale rendition that barely scratches the surface of one’s professional value. Many are blatant sales pitches offering no hint of the human being beneath them. Few and far between are those LinkedIn profiles that click on all cylinders, capture attention, and promote engagement.
Your LinkedIn profile is designed to sell you when you are not present to sell yourself. If you are actively building a presence on LinkedIn, netting a fair share of profile views, yet cannot interest others in a discussion with you, it is time to take a serious look at your page. Your LinkedIn profile will not “work for you” unless you work it first.
Every now and then I come across a LinkedIn profile that truly appeals to my sensibilities, piques my curiosity, and motivates me to take a step forward with that individual. There was enough there to grab me, research the person further, inspire me to connect, and initiate a dialog. In other words, the profile worked.
What is a Working LinkedIn Profile?
Upon setting up their LinkedIn accounts, many people—just to get through the process—will hastily plaster the page with some existing content. The text may be a direct take from the resumé, an existing bio, or a few sentences improvised on the spot. The best foot lags behind, and the redundant profile languishes in obscurity. On a platform where brands advance and commodities stagnate, your LinkedIn profile either stands out or gets lost in the shuffle.
A mature, working LinkedIn profile is driven by strategy. It shows attention to detail in writing. An individual’s professional value is conveyed in an intelligible manner through text and visuals, and regularly updated to keep current with real world changes. The working LinkedIn profile bolsters brand and generates interest (and leads) through storytelling. Quality content sparks interest which, in turn, catalyzes meaningful conversations.
In addition, a working LinkedIn profile serves as a clearinghouse for product or service inquires, enabling you to boost engagement with potential clients or strategic alliances. Content that calls attention to your contact preferences, and how to take next steps with you, intends to rule out those who have no vested interest in collaborating with you. Why bog down your LinkedIn network with people who do not see your value?
How to Craft a Working LinkedIn Profile
We all start out with the same blank slate on LinkedIn. It is the mind, heart, and soul that you put into the profile page that will differentiate you. To an increasing degree, businesspeople are taking up residence on LinkedIn, and putting more faith into their judgments of peers based solely on what they glean on the site. Your LinkedIn profile can be the determining factor in connecting you with economic opportunities—providing that you are packaged well.
A working LinkedIn profile makes a positive psychological impact. There is a certain artistry and science that must be applied in order for the page to shape perceptions, exert an influence on a visitor, and bring about change. An intriguing presentation—one that piques curiosity and resonates with viewers—fosters connectivity with the right people and opens up new avenues of collaboration.
In an age of fleeting attention, you have to quickly strike a chord. The “utilitarian” LinkedIn profile accomplishes nothing. It is essentially an arrangement of words on the page that fails to make an impression, let alone hold interest. Good LinkedIn profile writing is theater of the mind. The best examples are flowing, content-rich pieces of prose that are infused with powerful descriptions and strategically-placed visual content that reinforce value and heighten credibility.
Consider the following as you transition your LinkedIn profile from a static brochure to a finely-tuned engine of lead generation and personal brand development:
1). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Outcome-Specific
Be it written in first-person or third-person narrative, an effective LinkedIn profile is geared toward producing a positive result or consequence. Few profiles actually state the benefits of an engagement; instead, they are peppered with sales-speak, jargon, or worse, no text at all. An operative, efficient LinkedIn profile is written around a desired outcome. Professional objectives, competencies, and core values are stated without ambiguity. Visitors to your page exit with a clear idea of who you are and what they can expect in doing business with you.
2). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Not a Digital Resumé
Many LinkedIn users neglect to undertake the deep brand work that isolates the essential elements of their unique value proposition. Some try, but when frustration kicks in, they default to the boilerplate language of the resumé.
A resumé is a hard-copy document that affords readers with a myopic viewpoint of one’s employment history. In it, you live in the past, among a sea of past-tense verbs and bullet points. For your LinkedIn profile to bear fruit, you must tell a captivating story. Go beyond the bullet points, showcase yourself in the present, and have an eye toward the future. Let visitors to your page know what have you learned on your journey.
3). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Complete
Most profiles fail to address LinkedIn’s loosely-imposed requirements for completeness. This is often a byproduct of writer’s block, procrastination, or time constraints. A complete profile supports your goal for achieving greater brand exposure on LinkedIn.
The working profile publishes with all content sections spoken for and all cylinders pumping. From top to bottom, this includes a functional professional headline alongside a welcoming headshot, your compelling story woven together through the summary and experience sections, your education chronicle, a list of your skills, advice for contacting you, plus at least three written recommendations. Your complete LinkedIn profile will find its way into more internal searches, attract more relevant traffic, and help you connect with targeted professionals.
4). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Optimized
In order to optimize your LinkedIn profile for search, think as your best clients or customers would think. What combinations of words would they plug into a search engine? What phrases are specific to your brand, platform, or niche?
Use keywords liberally, not excessively, throughout your content—that is, in the appropriate density. Keyword-bombing a profile is a feeble attempt to game the system and will divert attention away from your story. LinkedIn profile optimization extends to maximizing the potential of your content in reaching its targets.
By making full use of all available forums to you on LinkedIn (e.g., LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn Publishing), your site presence will increase, which can translate into more inbound leads and conversations with prospects.
5). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Vigilantly Maintained
Your LinkedIn profile is a document that requires continuous upkeep in real time. Structure each section in a manner that facilitates ease of editing. Your professional situation can change in a heartbeat, warranting a new direction in brand strategy. You may have added to an existing product line or no longer provide certain services. You may have left a job or started a new career. You may have published a book, earned a designation, or made forays into new areas.
Inaccurate or outdated information can keep your LinkedIn profile from functioning like a well-oiled machine and translate into lost business opportunities. Stay on top of your content..
6). A Working LinkedIn Profile is Fully Visible
Internet use imposes many concerns for our privacy and security. Granted, there are many users that wish to fly under the radar, operate in stealth, or remain completely anonymous.
The extent to which you are seen by others on LinkedIn will have far-reaching implications in your ability to cultivate and convert business opportunities from site activity. There may be a good reason to conceal certain aspects of your LinkedIn presence (e.g., LinkedIn group memberships, certain companies you are following).
For a LinkedIn profile to work, all pertinent sections must be set as visible. Simply put, if they can’t see you, they can’t (won’t) engage with you. See also: LinkedIn Visibility Strategies for Lead Generation.
7). A Working LinkedIn Profile is a Digital Marketing Hub
Given the increased reliance that professionals now place on LinkedIn for timely business information, the LinkedIn profile takes on an even more valuable role in messaging. As the LinkedIn profile has become an individual’s first point of access for business purposes, treating the page as a primary website is a sensible and popular strategy. Your fully-operational LinkedIn profile is a point at which both inbound and outbound marketing activity is focused. It is at once your primary brand destination and a switching station that routes traffic to external (off-LinkedIn) sites, such as a landing page, blog, YouTube channel, or podcast archive. Treat your LinkedIn profile as a vital cog in the marketing machine.
8. A Working LinkedIn Profile is a Relationship Accelerant
With so much aimless connecting on LinkedIn, it is no wonder that so many users are discouraged or stressed when confronted with the reality of managing their networks. A working LinkedIn profile is earmarked for the professionals with whom you’d like to connect. Similarly, the page ought to act as a deterrent to those who serve no viable business purpose for you (or you to them). Full disclosure quickly builds trust. When you articulate your rules of engagement—that is, how you prefer to be approached by would-be connections on LinkedIn—you are better positioned for the types of conversations you want, and will increase the rate at which you can pull them offline.
9. A Working LinkedIn Profile is Designed to Influence
In the Digital Era, converting visitors to a website into buyers is a core business strategy, one that is guided by sound marketing, neuroscience, and the principles of human behavior. Impression management is the key to an effective LinkedIn profile. Every aspect of the page is engineered to generate a bias toward you—as a thought leader, domain expert, service provider, vendor, qualified job candidate, or good connection—and evoke a response. Along with telling your professional story, you want to address your ideal client’s pain points, frame yourself as the solution provider, and impel a call to action. Let others know what the advantages are in working with you, and what next steps to take.
♦ The LinkedIn profile is the most powerful and versatile piece of individual marketing available to business professionals today. Your mission is to attract people to your page and motivate them to learn more about you, your company, and your valued offerings. If you can accomplish this, then your LinkedIn profile is working for you.
♦ Like any aspect of business (or life), you get out of your LinkedIn profile what you put into it. Input equals output. If your page is not currently helping you connect advantageously, then some critical evaluation of your content and LinkedIn habits are in order.
♦ The process of inducing engagement through an online representation is a complex series of events. Not all visitors to your LinkedIn profile will be predisposed to interacting with you. When you learn that you won the business or got the job offer based on a review of your LinkedIn profile, well, this is the best affirmation of all. You know your profile worked.
Is your LinkedIn profile working for you?
Since 2006, JD Gershbein, CEO of Owlish Communications, has helped advance the collective awareness of LinkedIn and inspired opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business to step up and achieve on the site. His ability to spark others to action has earned him the moniker of “The LinkedIn Catalyst.” JD is considered one of the world’s top thought leaders on LinkedIn, and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn education. He is also a globally acclaimed social business psychologist, keynote speaker, and frequent broadcast media expert on LinkedIn for business. Additionally, JD is adjunct professor of marketing communications at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business, where he is advancing social media marketing as an academic discipline. In addition to his blog, The Wisdom Zone, JD is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Forbes.
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