What if I told you that your LinkedIn profile is quite often more important than your website? Would you think I was crazy?
Here’s why I believe this - what’s the first thing someone does if they want to learn more about you? They Google your name. Your LinkedIn profile will almost always show up within the top three positions in the search results, and it’s often the first place they’ll click to learn more about you.
What kind of first impression are you currently making in representing your personal brand?
For professionals, LinkedIn is king. The top-of-mind social media platform for businesses, employees, and professional service providers, LinkedIn plays a vital role in connecting the world’s vast business network, allowing them to meet, greet, and get the chance to work with one another.
Given all of this, if you’re still not making the most of your LinkedIn profile to further boost your professional and personal brand, the biggest question that you’d have to answer is… why not?
Why LinkedIn profile optimization matters – and how to do it well
LinkedIn profile optimization simply means that your LinkedIn profile is fully updated to maximize your visibility by your target audience. This involves, among other things, having a professional photo of yourself, having compelling and client-focused descriptions in the various sections of your LinkedIn profile, and establishing your credibility.
If you haven’t made this a priority yet, there are a number of invaluable advantages to taking the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Some of these advantages include:
- Attract leads and clients organically
- Enhance your professional reputation
- Build your credibility and authority
- Establish trust much faster
- Facilitate relationships with decision makers
- Stand out and leave a lasting impression
So let's dive right into the specific steps - in this post, I'll go through the basic process I cover when helping my clients develop a compelling personal brand on LinkedIn.
7 Steps to Your Complete LinkedIn Profile Optimization
An effective LinkedIn profile optimization process can be broken down into seven simple, yet significant components. Each step represents a crucial element in your overall LinkedIn profile optimization strategy that serves a specific function.
Step 1. Get Found
The first step, of course, is getting found. If your ideal clients can’t find you, then nothing else that you do on LinkedIn will matter.
Right out of the gate, you need to make sure of three things:
- That you're building your LinkedIn network with your ideal clients
- That you can be easily found on LinkedIn
- That the people you want to attract will like what they find
With regard to the first point, you need to be actively building your network with your ideal clients because if you aren’t a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree connection or share a LinkedIn Group, you won't show up in their search results. This means that no matter how well your LinkedIn profile is written or how well optimized it is, they won't find you when they search for someone who does what you do.
As for the second point, you have to cover all your bases. Use the right keywords and search terms throughout your profile, taking into consideration that at times people will be searching for what you offer and you want to show up at the top of the search results when that happens.
In regards to the third point, when you're found, you want to make sure your profile resonates with your ideal prospects and clients.
Step 2. Your 'Why' Story
Okay, so you’ve been found by your target audience - that’s great, but getting found isn’t enough. Without giving them a compelling reason to pay any attention to you or what you have to say, you can guarantee that they’ll just skip over your profile and move on to the next person.
The only thing that differentiates you from your competitors is your story. Remember this conventional piece of marketing wisdom: Always have your “why” story ready. What is your purpose? What drives you? Why do you do what you do?
You also want to let your reader know what problems you can solve - essentially, how you can help them - and give them insights into how you solve the specific problems they're facing.
Step 3. Credibility
Any relationship between you and your target audience must be built upon a strong foundation of trust. As your profile is the first thing they’ll get to see about you, it has to be clear in demonstrating that you are, indeed, credible and worthy of their trust and confidence.
The question is, what would make you appear to be credible in their eyes? Simple:
- Recommendations from people who know you and have worked with you are the best way to establish your credibility. The more recommendations you have - and the more detailed each one is - the greater your ability will be to establish trust with those who read your profile.
- While they don't hold the same weight as recommendations, there's still much social proof to be found in skills that have been frequently endorsed. Think about this for a minute, if you saw someone with a skill endorsement of 10 and someone with 99+, who would you be more likely to want to work with?
- Your achievements and your experience also help to further establish your credibility. Honors, awards, and any form of recognition and/or relevant accolade will raise your reputation as far as your target audience is concerned. This is where you'll include some of your bragging rights, whether that be publications you’ve contributed to or any other accomplishments. Lastly, you might share high profile clients you’ve worked with, and any other form of social proof to give you extra credibility.
Step 4. Ideal Clients
After you’ve taken care of all the details surrounding your story and establishing your credibility, it’s time to shift the focus to your ideal clients. Who are they? Are you sure that you have a clear idea of who they are and what challenges they face?
If an ideal client were to read your profile, would they quickly realize that you could be the solution they're looking for to solve a problem they're currently facing?
Remember that the ultimate goal of LinkedIn profile optimization is to maximize reach to the members of your target audience who would make the best clients.
Make sure your summary and experience sections highlight exactly who your ideal clients are and how you can help them.
Step 5. CTA (Call to Action)
Basically, a CTA (or call to action) answers one question: “What do you want the reader to do next?” Without adding this one small, but very important element to your profile, most people will move on without ever taking any form of action.
CTA’s can come in different forms, and facilitate different purposes. You can create a CTA to invite your readers to download a free resource, schedule a consultation, email or call you, and so on.
Add a CTA to your LinkedIn profile to help you get leads and facilitate further engagement between you and your potential clients. Make it easy for potential prospects to know what to do next and tell them exactly what you want them to do with your CTA.
Step 6. Authority
In this phase, you need to demonstrate your knowledge of how you can solve the problems your ideal clients have.
Include within your profile some additional resources that help to position your authority, such as LinkedIn Publisher posts, or a video of you speaking or teaching on your topic.
Step 7. Stand Out
Ultimately, effective LinkedIn profile optimization involves making sure that you'll be noticed in the vast ocean of players in your industry. Grab your rightful piece of the pie with a professional and compelling LinkedIn profile that:
- Includes a professional headshot as your profile photo
- Showcases a headline that captures the attention of your ideal clients
- Includes rich media (videos, slide share presentations or PDF’s)
- A professional cover photo
- Recommendations and endorsements for social proof
When you optimize your LinkedIn profile, you leave a lasting impression.
In reality, that’s all the time you get to wow a potential client, whether in person or within the digital realm.
Furthermore, an optimized LinkedIn profile could be the difference between a decision maker you want to connect with accepting your connection request or clicking the “ignore” button.
Given this fact, wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward?
Whether you’re out to attract potential business partners, recruiters, employees, or new clients, having a stellar LinkedIn profile that enhances your professional brand essentially gives them more reasons to not only connect with you, but also to trust you.
An optimized LinkedIn profile is necessary for your social selling and lead generation efforts
On top of all of the benefits stated above, taking the time to conduct a LinkedIn profile optimization review can greatly contribute to your digital selling efforts.
Credibility and authority play an important role in successful social selling and lead generation strategies, and when it comes to LinkedIn, there’s no better way to ensure that than with a fully updated and optimized profile.
This post was first published on the Top Dog Social Media Marketing blog.