Have you ever used Google to find out more about someone you met at a networking event or conference? Chances are that their LinkedIn profile showed up somewhere near the top of search results, and probably higher than their firm website bio.
If someone Googled you, what would they find?
LinkedIn is the most popular social networking platform in the B2B professional services world (refer to Hinge Marketing’s research).
Whether you’re building your professional network, generating leads, or connecting with clients, your LinkedIn profile forms a core part of your overall “brand”. It will amplify your online presence, and provide valuable support to your real-world marketing and BD efforts.
Buyers of professional services rely heavily on the internet to help them find and select providers. In addition to providing useful information about you, LinkedIn establishes your credibility and showcases your expertise. Used well, it can be a highly effective tool to grow your business.
Unfortunately, most LinkedIn profiles fail to engage and connect with your most important audience: prospective clients, referral sources, advocates, professional networks and other significant connections.
The good news is that, with just a little effort, you can develop a strong professional profile that will support your business development efforts.
Here are three core areas to think about when creating, or reviewing, your LinkedIn profile:
1. Your photo
A good quality, professional looking photo is important. Your photo will not only be a point of recognition for people you’ve met, but also a way for you to make a positive impression, establish your professionalism, and provide credibility.
Aim for a headshot of you in professional attire, with an open and friendly expression. A simple background works well, and keeps the focus on you rather than what might be going on behind you.
If you don’t have a good photo, get one taken – that selfie you took last Friday night is not an appropriate substitute.
2. Your summary
Your profile summary is really important – it will be the most-read section of your profile. In essence, it describes who you are, what you do, who you do it for.
It need not be long, but it does need to be relevant and have enough details to validate your claims and demonstrate your expertise.
Write with your buyer in mind. Use keywords that potential clients or referral sources would use to search for service providers like you.
There are conflicting views about whether you should write the summary in first person (“I am an experienced …”) or third person (“Lilla is an experienced …”), and while I think either approach works, I prefer third person. It tends to be easier to write about yourself as if you were someone else, and it can sound more objective and trustworthy to the reader.
3. Your professional experience
Provide meaningful descriptions of your professional experience. Focus on responsibilities, skills and outcomes that are relevant to your target audience, and use keywords and terms that your audience will understand.
How many roles you list and how far back you go will depend on how pertinent it is (you can safely skip the part-time bartender job you had when you were at university).
Build up to a complete LinkedIn profile
While these three areas are important, it’s equally important to make sure your profile is complete – provide details of your qualifications, certifications, courses, skills, and volunteer experience.
A full profile will not only seem more trustworthy, but also provide more opportunities for people to connect with you. You may find you have more in common than purely professional connections.
Remember that your profile is part of your credibility-building, and an incomplete profile may give the impression that you gave up, or just couldn’t be bothered. It will be difficult to convince a potential client or referral source to do business with you if you appear lazy or unprofessional on LinkedIn.
Pro tip: before your profile goes live, get someone to proofread it. Typos, spelling mistakes and poor expression can be a big credibility killer (am I going to trust you to draft my legal contracts if your LinkedIn profile is filled with mistakes?).
Finally, start connecting with old university contacts, former colleagues, employees, and others in your sphere. Join and participate in LinkedIn groups, post updates and links to interesting articles, and even share your own thought-leadership pieces.
Invest the time to create – and maintain – a good professional profile on LinkedIn, and you’ll find that it will be useful elsewhere: your firm website, your speaker’s biography, or in your next bid or proposal.
Send me an email if your LinkedIn profile needs a review, or you want some help getting started.
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