With more than 600 million users, LinkedIn is a small social network compared to behemoths like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, but its exclusive focus on professional networking and career development makes it crucial for people looking to extend their reach online.
Now unless you’re Richard Branson or Bill Gates, standing out amongst 600 million other LinkedIn users can be tough.
However, with a bit of optimization, you can definitely stand out amongst your competitors.
In this article, I’ll share seven LinkedIn profile tips that will help you do just that, and put you on the path to more profile views, better quality connection requests, more messages from recruiters and prospects, and a significant return on investment from the time you put into LinkedIn.
1. A professional profile photo
Your parents, teachers, careers counselors and that so-called dating ‘guru’ you met in college were right - first impressions really do matter!
On LinkedIn, your profile photo is a big part of that first impression, so you need to get it right.
Before you open your phone to find that cropped group photo from that nightclub you went to in 2011 with the good lighting, think again. The same goes for that ‘I’ve been to Machu Picchu’ selfie you probably definitely have.
Stick them on Tinder, where they belong!
Here’s a quick guide to illustrate:
You don’t need to look like Ryan Gosling or Margot Robbie to take a good headshot. A simple photo of you smiling, looking professional and well-presented will do the job.
Rather than taking a selfie on your phone, either invest £100/$150 in a professional headshot session with a photographer or ask a friend/colleague to take a photo in a well-lit room.
2. A punchy headline
Your LinkedIn headline’s number one job is to entice people to click. It’s like a mini elevator pitch.
When paired with your profile photo it tells people who you are, what you do, and why you're someone they need to connect with.
At a minimum, you can use your headline to highlight your current position and company (e.g., "Marketing Executive at Widgets Inc.”) but you can and should go further.
Highlight your expertise (e.g., "Content Marketing Strategist and Copywriter"), or showcase skills you want to be found for in search (e.g., "Speaker, Trainer, Author, Consultant"), or even include an award you’ve won (e.g. “3 x Oscar Award Winner”).
The headline requires a bit of search optimization, and similar to including key terms in a blog post or web page, you need to include your target key term in your headline as well.
Once you show up in the search results, the next step is to stand out from everyone else.
In the example below, which profile are you more likely to click on?
Personally, I’d want to learn more about the person behind the ‘world-leading brands’.
The other two people could be far more qualified, but the first profile stands out because:
- They’ve gone beyond the simple job title and company name and made it clear they’re at the top of their field
- The star emoji caught my eye and helps illustrate the fact they work with world-leading brands.
Try and go against the grain, and use eye-catching vocabulary and maybe an emoji (or two) to really stand out.
If you need some inspiration for your own headline, do a search for your own job title and you’ll find plenty of LinkedIn profile examples.
As a side note, wondering what that gold IN icon is next to some people’s names?
That’s the LinkedIn Premium badge, which means they have a LinkedIn Premium membership and have unlocked benefits like free InMails, extended people browsing and analytics for their profiles.
I use it myself, as I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and want to know everything about my profile, who’s viewing it, and what impact my activities are having.
If you want to find out more, check out my article on LinkedIn Premium where I break down all the features, benefits and prices.
3. A branded cover photo
The LinkedIn profile cover photo is often overlooked, which makes it the perfect place to stand out and share your brand (if you have one).
Here are some strong LinkedIn profile examples from people in the platform’s Influencer category.
Use your cover photo to share your brand values (whether that be for your personal brand or your company), in a clean and uncluttered way.
If your design skills are on par with a 4-year-old armed with crayons, either ask one of your company’s graphic designers for help (bring coffee and/or donuts), or use a tool like Canva.com, which has hundreds of free LinkedIn cover photo templates.
4. A captivating summary of you and your experience
This is where you really sell yourself to the reader!
Your summary should expand on what appears in your headline, and highlight your specialties, career experience, and any relevant awards.
Think of it as a very short version of the covering letter you write when applying for a new job.
Make sure you also include those key terms you want to be found for, just like you did in your headline.
Here are some summary-specific LinkedIn profile tips to consider:
Explain your present role
Ignore your job title for a second, and summarise what you do in one sentence, in simple terms. Avoid using jargon (if possible), and outline the problems you solve, for whom, and how. It’s a great way to demonstrate your skills, industry knowledge, and style of work.
Share your passion
Opening up about what you love to do adds context to your career. Think about what excites you most professionally — what drives you besides your paycheck? This is an especially good angle if you’re a recent graduate and don’t have years of experience to write about.
Highlight your successes
Have you won any awards, or delivered a big project that you want to brag about? Include that as well, but don’t make it sound like you’re bragging!
Add rich media
Some of the best LinkedIn profiles include media attachments in their summary. Include past work that you’re really proud of, either as an image, video or a link to an article.
Here’s what mine looks like:
If you can, reference them in your summary to encourage readers to view them.
Write it in first-person
I’m asked this pretty regularly when I share LinkedIn profile tips as part of my LinkedIn for Sales Training sessions.
I always recommend first-person, as it’s more personable and sounds more like a conversation.
Ultimately, however, it’s up to you and your writing style.
Whichever one you choose, just make sure you stay consistent. Going back and forth between first-person and third-person gets confusing and indicates a lack of attention to detail.
5. A deep-dive into your experience and key achievements
When you’re writing your CV or Resume, you always include your past experiences and key achievements to let the hiring manager know how valuable you are, right?
LinkedIn’s no different.
Even if you’re not looking for a new job, having a detailed history can give your reader enough information to decide whether they want to connect with you, and maybe even work with you.
Each job description should show the reader that you made the most of that job. Add in details about the projects that you’ve undertaken, and what you achieved while you were there.
Avoid using dull phrases like ‘responsible for’ and ‘duties included’. Use clear action words such as managed, led, grew, consolidated, transformed, saved, adapted and so on.
Job search and career expert Alison Doyle’s article on power words is a must-read if you’re looking for inspiration and extra LinkedIn profile tips.
When talking about achievements, try and include data if it’s applicable. For example, “As a result of my project, we saved 3 hours a week and our average Cost-Per-Lead dropped by 23.6%.”
Finally, when adding the company name, make sure you link it to the company’s primary LinkedIn Company Page, if it’s available. The reader may want to know what sort of company you worked for, and it’ll give context to your role. It’ll also display the company’s logo, which helps to visually break up your work experience.
6. A showcase of your education and qualifications
Your education and qualifications give the reader further insight into your background, but there is a debate about how in-depth you need to go.
Do you need to include your high school? Unless you’re currently a college/university student, probably not.
However, if like me you want to stay connected with old classmates, having your high school on your profile means you’ll get recommendations to connect with them in your My Network tab, alongside your co-workers and potential acquaintances.
At the very least, include your university education, and add a few details about what you studied, any interesting projects you undertook, and so on.
If you’ve taken any short courses/diplomas during your career, including leadership development programmes or bootcamps, include them in your Education section.
There is a separate Courses section, but it’s right at the bottom of your profile and only lets you provide the name and a course ID. Adding it in the Education section gives you more space to share the impact it had on your career.
If you’ve got any certifications, such as Google’s Digital Garage, Hubspot’s Inbound Certification or certificates specific to your role, make sure you add them to your Licenses & Certifications section.
Here’s mine as an example:
Industry-recognised certificates add serious credibility to your profile, as you can usually link to the official certificate on the provider’s website (the “See credential” link underneath the Google and Hubspot certifications).
Not all providers have a certificate you can link to (e.g. Google’s Analytics Academy doesn’t but Digital Garage does), but if you can, definitely do it!
7. A display of your skills and recommendations
The Skills and Recommendations sections are where you prove you’re not just a bag of air.
In these sections, other LinkedIn users can essentially ‘review’ you, and in doing so add credibility to your profile.
You can add as many skills as you wish, but LinkedIn lets you pin three to the top. These are the skills that people will see first.
Clicking the ‘Show more’ link will show the reader all of your skills.
For your own profile, try and prioritise your most important skills. For me, that’s social media marketing and strategy.
Go through your existing skills list, and ensure they’re all relevant.
If you’ve directly interacted with any of your LinkedIn connections, you can ask them for a recommendation. So any colleagues, people you’ve met in person, past clients and so on.
To request a recommendation, click the “Ask for a recommendation” link, highlighted in red below. You’ll then be asked to choose someone to invite.
Make sure you pick specific people who you personally know and ideally have worked with. Don’t just randomly ask all your contacts if they can recommend you. Be selective.
Share details in your message to your connection. If there are specific skills you want your contacts to highlight in his or her recommendation, don’t be shy, tell them.
One way to increase your number of recommendations is to recommend others first. When that person receives the recommendation, they’re far more likely to give you one back.
All thanks to the power of reciprocity, a time-tested social psychology technique!
Bonus LinkedIn profile tip: personalize your profile URL
When you create your LinkedIn profile, you’re usually given a generic profile URL with a random combination of numbers, letters and backslashes.
You can actually create your own one! Follow the steps here to create yours, and get it on your business card!
This is a key personal branding opportunity, especially if you can get it to match your other social media profile usernames.
For example, I was able to get the same username for LinkedIn and Twitter:
LinkedIn Profile Tip Conclusion
Implementing even a few of these tweaks will quickly set your profile apart from the competition.
However, it won’t happen overnight.
It’s definitely worth the effort though!
Once you’ve implemented these LinkedIn profile tips, you can take it a step further and:
- Follow popular topics and engage with posters to increase profile views
- Join LinkedIn Groups to network with like-minded professionals
- Get a free trial of LinkedIn Premium to unlock additional features
- Make use of InMails to connect with potential clients
- Experiment with LinkedIn Live if you can!
- Take some free online social media courses to upgrade your skills
If you found this LinkedIn profile tips guide useful, tweet me @TristanBacon!