If you’re a working professional, surely you have a LinkedIn profile - but are you getting as much out of it as you could be? Probably not. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Too often, people use LinkedIn passively, treating the platform as a digital CV rather than a strategic tool to build their personal or professional brands.
We sat down with LinkedIn expert Tracy Enos to better understand how she has used the site to grow her network, master the art of lead generation, develop her business, and reach the status that she holds today as a coach and advisor - all thanks to the LinkedIn platform.
Her biggest secret? Maintaining a human-to-human (H2H) touch.
Tracy’s hacks will guide you as you revamp your LinkedIn profile to help you gain traction on the platform and achieve your long-term business goals. More specifically, these pointers will advise you on how to build your profile using a customer or client-focused approach, showcase your expertise, and increase your likability and reach.
Laying the foundation
Without a strong foundation, anything you try to build will weaken over time and eventually come crumbling down, and your LinkedIn presence is no different.
The first and most important step in creating the perfect LinkedIn profile is to define what perfect means not only to you but also to your audience. In other words, it is critical to identify your goals and what you would like to achieve with your LinkedIn profile, aside from simply having a presence on the network.
On any social network, there are observers, participants, and leaders and if you are looking to use your LinkedIn profile as a tool to outperform your competitors, you must be a leader.
Here are a few questions to help you get started:
- Are you trying to get hired, build your network, reach new clients, or build your brand?
- Who are you trying to reach, and how can you depict your demographics and psychographics to better connect with these people?
- What keywords can you integrate into your profile to highlight your value and strengths?
- How do your competitors portray themselves, and what is your competitive advantage?
- What are the pain points or desires of your target audience?
It’s important to keep these questions in mind to build a LinkedIn profile that frames you in the best light possible and also positions you to not just reach but exceed your intended goal.
Hack 1: Scrap the selfie, first impressions count!
We all have those friends who seem to have something against professional headshots.
No matter how many years have passed, they still have the same exact low-quality photo of themselves taken at a bar or semi-formal in college as their LinkedIn profile picture.
When someone searches your name or visits your profile on LinkedIn, your photo is the first thing that they see, so it’s important to make a good impression.
Treat your headshot like you’re meeting a new client, prospect, or business partner for the first time. Your selfie is costing you clients and while it may be appropriate for Instagram, LinkedIn is just not the place.
Make sure that your photo is taken with a high-quality camera in front of a neutral background, and most importantly - make sure it speaks to the audience that you are trying to reach!
People are more likely to take an interest in you if you look approachable.
Hack 2: Ditch the 2011 headline!
You have only 220 characters to tell the world what you have to offer, so why not take full advantage of it?
Instead of simply restating your job title and company or sharing a vague statement about your passion for helping others succeed, use this as an opportunity to hone in on keywords that will make you stand out. This section should act as a teaser towards your added-value and encourage LinkedIn users to further engage with you, so keep your audience in mind when writing it.
Don’t forget that the headline shows directly under your name on LinkedIn, so it will accompany you everywhere you go. Many people fail to realize that when you make a post or leave a comment, your headline is visible to other users. This means that you can capitalize on the opportunity to introduce yourself with every action you take on LinkedIn.
Your headline cuts off after about 50 characters (as seen below) when displayed on the content you post, so make sure to include the most important keywords and benefits statement at the very beginning to captivate the interest of people who may just happen to stumble upon your profile through a comment or content reshare.
Hack 3: Surprise, your ‘About Summary’ is not all about you!
On your LinkedIn profile, the About section provides you with a text box that allows for up to 2,600 characters of writing. Most LinkedIn users tend to use this box as an ‘About Me’ summary, but there are entire sections on your LinkedIn profile that are specifically dedicated to interests, skills, and achievements. Be cautious with what you share here to avoid being redundant later on.
Instead, think of the About section as an opportunity to integrate your client-solutions with your auto-biography to show who you are, what you have to share, and why you are the best solution for their needs.
Here are a few key pieces of information that you should always include:
- Who are you? (Tell your story)
- Who do you work with? (Directly identify your target audience)
- What do you do? (Or, in other words, what can you do for the person reading?)
- How do you do it? (What are your process and competitive advantages?)
- What results can people expect? (Share success stories or accolades)
Most importantly, you should keep your target audience in mind when constructing the About section of your profile to frame yourself in a way that encourages people to connect with you. Maybe it’s client-facing, customer-facing, or partner-facing - whatever the goal is, use this opportunity to make yourself shine, but do it in a way that appeals to your audience.
Finally, always include a clear CTA (call to action). Your About summary is typically the first block of text that people view when visiting your profile, so don’t force them to do the digging if they want to get in touch with you! By centralizing your CTA in this section, people will know that you mean business and are encouraging them to reach out.
For example, Tracy includes a link to her website and calendar so that people know that she is available and ready to build a relationship.
Feel free to add links to your social media channels as well or any other valuable resources that will help your audience connect with you.
Hack 4: Turning on creator mode can be tempting, but try to hold off until you have a following!
In the modern-day, almost everyone likes to think of themselves as a creator. After all, we do create something in some form through our work, so why not differentiate yourself by turning on LinkedIn’s creator mode?
Well, there are plenty of reasons. You have to be the judge of the value that creator mode could bring to you depending on your field and your audience, but here are a few things that you might want to take into consideration.
First and foremost, turning on creator mode hides your Connect button and replaces it with a Follow button. There is something more genuine and personal about connecting with someone instead of following them because it shows that you are open to building a two-way relationship.
You can still connect with users who have creator mode activated, but the button is hidden and requires users to jump through more hoops to reach it, so it might hurt you if your goal is to grow your audience from the bottom up.
Because creator mode is intended to reward creators for distributing their unique content, activating this feature will also rearrange the order of information that is displayed on your LinkedIn profile. With creator mode turned off, users will see your headline and About section immediately when viewing your page, but with creator mode turned on, users will only see a follow button in addition to your hashtags. In creator mode, the Activity and Featured sections will also be displayed first, above your About summary. In creator mode, you have the opportunity to add a 30 second video (created in mobile only) and if you do a LinkedIn live, your background photo changes to the live stream while you are recording.
Again, these variations may be optimal for those who are very engaged on LinkedIn and want their content and interactions to be publicized, but for those that have nothing to show, you will be much better off highlighting everything that you have to offer in the About section and keeping that section pinned to the top of your profile.
Hack 5: Don’t leave ANY sections blank; no excuses!
Don’t underestimate the value of filling out the sections that fall below Experience and Education on your LinkedIn profile, such as Volunteering, Skills, Honors & Awards, Languages, Organizations, Interests, Licenses & certifications, Recommendations, Publications, Courses, Projects, and Causes.
For those that treat LinkedIn like a digital CV, adding work experience and education is enough to have a presence on the platform but showing that you are a real human with interests, involvements, and hobbies sets you apart from competitors.
This is recognized as the human-to-human (H2H) approach, and Tracy is a firm believer in the power of using your personal life as a method to further your professional life. The truth is that no one enjoys feeling like they are talking to a robot or someone who is only interested in making sales.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your mistakes, use a casual tone, or give your audience a glimpse into your personal life to reassure them that you, too, are human. After all, it is your personal profile, and this is where people will get to know, like, and trust you.
Now that you’ve spiced up your LinkedIn profile don’t get too comfortable. Remember that your profile must be constantly nurtured and updated according to the evolution of your career in order to accurately reflect your strengths and better align you with those you are trying to reach.
To get started, we highly recommend downloading this Ultimate LinkedIn 30-Point Profile Checklist which will help you level up your LinkedIn game.
For more about LinkedIn profile optimization, secret features that you probably didn’t know exist, and hundreds of other hacks, consider signing up for Tracy’s “The Ultimate Profile Framework” session which is a step-by-step LinkedIn training program that is guaranteed to magnetize your LinkedIn profile.