One of the simplest ways to start building your personal brand online is to optimize your LinkedIn profile, better enabling you to be found and remembered.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a job seeker, a consultant, a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you'll benefit from having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile.
How? You will provide clarity on:
- Who you want to reach
- What value you offer
- Where you want to be, as a result of your personal brand
- Why you want to stand out
- How you want to be remembered
But before optimizing your profile, you need to be very clear on these two questions:
1. What do you want to be found for?
If you create your profile just because somebody said you should do so, or because you’re “just curious”, you have to rethink your reasoning.
To succeed on LinkedIn, you first need to have a clear goal.
LinkedIn optimization is not a one-time activity, it’s a commitment to yourself and your brand.
To optimize means first creating your profile, then making iterations based on your goals, testing what works (and what doesn’t), and consistently making tweaks as you change your career or business goals.
So before you create a profile, ask yourself, “What do I want to be found for?” The answer to this question is critical to your success on LinkedIn.
2. How do you want to be remembered?
Once someone finds you on LinkedIn and views your profile - congratulations. One profile view on LinkedIn could mean a new opportunity.
So what does this mean? Without profile views, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. That's why the ‘Who's Viewed Your Profile’ feature is one of the important metrics in your dashboard.
Your next job is to figure out how you want to be remembered. If your profile is incomplete, has a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, doesn’t say anything about who you really are, doesn’t highlight how great you are and has practically nothing on it - how do you expect your profile viewers to remember you?
If your profile viewers found and remembered you for the same reason, you’re most likely to convert that profile view into a career or business opportunity.
For example, if I want to be found as a LinkedIn trainer or consultant who can help professionals build a strong personal brand on LinkedIn, I have to optimize and complete my own profile so my profile viewers will be convinced that I know what I’m doing.
So now, it’s time to optimize your profile - here are seven simple ways to build an impressive LinkedIn presence:
1. Claim your vanity URL
Look at your current LinkedIn profile URL. If you see a combination of numbers and letters that don't make sense (see image below), it means you haven’t optimized it yet. You can edit this and get a unique URL that no one else can claim.
Here’s how to do it:
Click ‘Edit public profile & URL’ on the right sidebar → Click on the pencil icon to edit your profile URL.
Customizing your profile URL takes only a few minutes and will help you get found on LinkedIn. Having a customized URL also makes your profile look more professional.
2. Update your headline
By default, LinkedIn uses your current or latest job experience in your headline. You can edit your headline to reflect how you want to position yourself.
Most often than not, your job title at your current company won’t clearly communicate who you are as a professional, so be sure to edit your headline.
Here’s how to do it:
Click on the pencil icon on the right side of your profile photo → Edit your headline → Click ‘Save’
Your headline is critical to being found on LinkedIn. Include the keywords that your target audience or clients use when they’re searching for people with your skills, products or services.
For example, I never used 'Quality Control and Training Team Lead' in my headline nor in the 'Experience' section although it was my exact position at the time. Why? People who are looking for editors or trainers won’t type ‘quality control team lead’ or ‘training team lead’ in the search box.
Instead, I used the words that people were more likely to type into the search box: 'Editor', 'Trainer'.
Then, in the relevant ‘Experience’ section, I qualified that by mentioning my exact position (so my colleagues won’t be surprised with it).
Take the time to figure out which keywords will help you get found and don’t skip this stage. You’d be surprised at the impact of using the right keywords to your profile views.
Note: You can also now see the keywords your profile is appearing for in your profile views section.
3. Carefully craft your profile summary
One of the biggest mistakes LinkedIn users make is in not writing anything in their profile summary - which is a crucial element not only in getting found, but in increasing the chances that a profile view will lead to an opportunity.
Your profile summary gives you the chance to talk to your target clients or audience, to tell them how you can help solve their problems. Write your profile summary with your target clients in mind, and aim to answer the question, “What’s in it for them?”
No matter how great you are, avoid buzzwords like 'passionate', 'strategic', etc. Instead, be specific. Use numbers, show results. You can have 2,000 characters for your summary, and you should always aim to include relevant keywords where you can.
Note: Having clarity on who you want to reach on LinkedIn is the key to crafting a well-written profile summary that converts profile views to opportunities for you.
4. Add your skills and manage your endorsements
Managing your ‘Featured Skills & Endorsements’ has three advantages:
- It helps you better understand your aim. You can add up to 50 skills, and if you lack focus, you'll be tempted to add 50 unrelated skills that no one will be willing to endorse you for.
- It enables you to add social proof to your profile. Having a lot of your 1st-degree connections endorse you for the same skills increases your credibility.
- It helps you get found on LinkedIn. The more endorsements you have on a particular skill, the higher the chance that you will appear in searches.
Asking for endorsements can be a challenge, but it’s worth asking. So go ahead and ask for endorsements particularly from those you've actually worked with.
5. Use a professional headshot
LinkedIn is a professional network, and if you’re building your brand, you want to create a good impression. If you want people to know, like and trust you, use a photo which shows how you look when you’re attending a networking event and meeting people for the first time.
Invest in a professional headshot. It does matter. If you have to hire a professional photographer, do it. It’s your initial step to getting people to like and trust you.
Don’t forget to set your profile photo visibility - you can choose to be visible only to your connections, to your network (1st- to 3rd-degree connections), to all LinkedIn members who are signed in, or to the public.
I suggest choosing public to maximize your chances of being found and contacted by the right people. Ultimately, your choice here should support your overall goal for using LinkedIn.
6. Use rich media to show your achievements
Make it easy for your profile viewers to instantly see what you do and how you do it. Display your work samples to demonstrate your skills and show your achievements.
You could upload photos, videos, images, presentations and other documents. You can also add links to external sites from various rich media content providers.
7. Customize your LinkedIn banner
Customize your LinkedIn profile banner to better define your personal brand and help you stand out. Try using Canva, a free, easy-to-use graphic-design tool for customizing your profile banner.
Is this how you want to appear in the professional world?
You can get some extra inspiration from these LinkedIn Profiles:
Ravi Chahar - WordPress Professional, Web Developer || Web Designer, Skilled Blogger
Andy Foster - Headshot Photographer
Hopefully these notes will help guide you in your efforts to create a more professional, more effective LinkedIn profile. Good luck.