Is your LinkedIn profile doing you justice? Is it getting you the new business and opportunities you deserve? This article, by Heather Townsend, looks at how to get your LinkedIn profile to earn its keep.
Given the amount of contrasting advice on the internet about what needs to go in your LinkedIn summary, it is any wonder that so many people get it so wrong.
Despite what many people think, your LinkedIn summary (and profile in general) is NOT your online CV nor is it an optional box you can ignore.
Now, we have got that monkey off our chest, the million dollar question is,
If your LinkedIn profile is not your online CV, then what exactly is it?
It is the start of the first conversation you will have with the people that you want to read your profile. After all, most people will have met your virtually via your LinkedIn profile before they meet you in person.
Do your research
Now, step away from the keyboard. Before you start to rewrite your LinkedIn summary, you need to do some thinking and answer these questions:
- Who do I want to read my LinkedIn summary?
- How do I want them to feel or think after reading it?
- What is their motivation for reading my summary?
- What do I want them to do after reading it?
Once you have the answers to these questions it is time to collect your content
Collecting your content
Each of us will have a rich treasure trove of experiences and results which we could share on our LinkedIn summary. However, we only have 2000 words in which to influence our readers.
Before you decide what to say on your summary section think about the information that your ideal reader – whether client, well-placed introducer or employer – wants to read to help them take action. These will typically be:
Are they credible?
Does their story stack up?
Can I trust them?
Can they do what I need them for and within my budget?
Do they sound like someone I would like to work with?
Now go and collect all the evidence and the parts of your story which will help increase the probability of the reader wanting to get in contact for the right reasons.
Injecting your personality
As I mentioned right at the top of this article, your summary section is not part of your online CV. It is the first conversation you will have with someone who may be able to help you achieve your goals. After all, its a lot easier to contact someone if you feel you know a little more about them and what makes them tick. Authenticity in business development situations wins through nearly every single time.
Therefore, whatever you write needs to sound like you.
After all, the best person you can be is you.
How can you inject a little more of your personality into your summary?
- Explain why you now do what you do, and why this makes you a better or safer bet.
- Add in more colour to your words (this is NOT your online CV)
- Talk about your drivers, values and motivations
- Adopt a more conversational style – remember this is your 1st conversation with someone
If you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile is as good as it can be, then click here to get your free 10-point LinkedIn checklist (email required)
Structuring your LinkedIn Summary section
Having spent the last 9 months on a project helping a firm of consultants write their summary section, I can confirm that this is not easy. Bringing together the strands of your story with your business objectives for being on LinkedIn is a tough exercise. It’s also a brilliant exercise to help you get clarity on who you are, what you do and who you help.
Your summary section is your summary section. However, here is a template which may work for you:
1st sentence hook:
Your 1st sentence needs to be something which will make your readers want to read on. Normally this could be something which stimulates their curiosity and imagination. It is unlikely to start like this:
I am a commercial lawyer with 15 years experience helping blah blah blah
Remember, (and I know I am repeating myself), this is not your online CV
The rest of your 1st paragraph is, in effect, your elevator pitch. I.e. if your ideal reader just reads this one paragraph would they be able to “get who you are”, “why they should choose you?” and “proof” that you are good at what you do.
At the end of your 1st paragraph give your readers a call to action. Whether this is to get in contact with you or go to your website, or something completely different.
2nd paragraph onwards
This is where you want to tell more of your story to help people better understand:
- who you are
- why you do what you do
- who you work with
- the types of work you do
- why they should choose to work with you
Call to action
At the end of your summary section, remember to include a call to action. I.e. what do you want the reader to do after they have read your profile.
Embedding rich media
LinkedIn has given its members, even the free members, the opportunity to include stuff on your profile such as documents, photos, videos etc. Sadly, many people rarely do.
Look back at your summary section, where have you got (or could produce) opportunities to help your readership get more confidence that you are who you say you are, and good at what you do. This could be:
- video clips of you talking
- images of professional associations you belong too
- reports or white papers you have written or contributed too
If you treat your LinkedIn summary as the start of a virtual online conversation with the people you want to meet, you wouldn’t go far wrong.
If you want more help with your LinkedIn profile then click here to get your free 10-point LinkedIn checklist (email required)
Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking‘ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices.