Basics: Write a professional LinkedIn profile

How do readers read your profile?

Eye-tracking studies show that 19% of time spent on your profile is focused on your profile picture, with attention also focused on your headline and summary. Then only a few people read on; those are the people with most interest in what they see.

LinkedIn tells us that profiles with a photo receive around 21x more profile views than those without.

If you can get more people to your profile then you are in a much better position to share your knowledge, connect and, eventually, meet in person.

How do search engines read your profile?

They look for words relevant to the search query in your headlines, then if they find what they are looking for, they look in the body text of your profile for relevant words. They will also check to see if your profile has a lot of connections and whether there are links across the internet that point to it – this is how the search engine algorithm checks that you are a real person active in the relevant area.

Projecting “Trusted Adviser” vibes

Dr Amy Cuddy of Harvard has studied first impressions and tells us that 90% of your first impression is made up of the other person’s perceptions of your competence (can you do what you say you can?) and trust (do you have good intentions towards them?).

The balance is a little different for different people and industries, but a general rule I use is that your competence is demonstrated through your static content, like your profile, while your trustworthiness is demonstrated through your dynamic content, such as LinkedIn posts and LinkedIn articles. I have written a more detailed post on this.

So how do you structure your profile in response?

Public profile settings and summary section

  1. Professional photo: No family or pets, just you smiling. I suggest that you use one where your face fills the shot and the background is one colour, this will make your photo easy to look at on mobile where it can appear very small.
  2. Create a vanity URL: You can change the link address (URL) for your profile so that it is simpler to remember and link to, like mine, www.linkedin.com/in/sarahrixomlewis (feel free to follow me there if you want).
  3. Make sure your photo is visible to everyone: Especially people you aren’t connected to. This will allow them recognise you if they have met you and check your photo through a Google reverse image search if they haven’t.
  4. Make sure that your headline describes what you do: That will naturally include key words and not make you look limited to your current role.
  5. Get your key message in the first two lines of your summary: After this your beautiful prose will be hidden behind the …see more.

How?

Go to the top right corner, you will see a blue button that says Add new profile section and under that a grey button that says Edit public profile. On the left you can see what those who are not connected to you see when they look at your profile. On the right, at the top, you can change your URL, and further down you can tick and untick boxes to make sure your photo and key sections are visible.

Job experience section

  1. It’s not a CV: Your main purpose is to make it clear to a potential client or a journalist, what you can help them with. You are not trapped in a chronological job structure. If you work in several areas of responsibility, even at the same company, you can show them concurrently. I advise you to split out the areas in which you work so that the reader doesn’t have to put effort in to unravel them
  2. Examples: Whether this be a more formal credential or simply relaying a time when you made a difference, this is a good way to move beyond insecure-sounding statements like “best social media mind in X”.
  3. Add Media: If you have a key report that relates to the topic or you have been profiled in the news, you can add that at the bottom of the related job. This can be a good way to break up the text.

Publications

  1. Be inclusive: Think of this section as a library of useful material on the topics you cover. Be inclusive about the types of material you consider, for example reports, books, links to journals.
  2. Be exclusive: Try to pick the best pieces if you are particularly prolific so that your profile readers don’t have to scroll for a long time.
  3. Exceptions: If you have material of a blog-like length (about 1200 words), such as updates sent out to your mailing lists, consider republishing these as LinkedIn articles from your own profile. The search engines will find that content more easily, people interact with LinkedIn articles more than they interact with blog posts, and they have a longer life span than material sent out by email.

How?

Go the news feed and then to the share box at the top. There you will see a small button that says Write an article. Click on this to go through to the blogging section of LinkedIn, called LinkedIn Pulse.

Honors and Awards

If your industry has these, then add yours.

How?

Go to the top right of your profile and click the big blue Add a profile section button. You will find Honors and Awards next to a star in the Accomplishments section.

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