I often get asked for advice about writing good LinkedIn profiles and specifically, summaries.
I find LinkedIn a strange social media platform in many ways – it seems the obvious place to spend a lot of time if you are a freelancer or consultant and if you are looking for work or a new job. However, what if you are not?
The truth is LinkedIn seems to be growing and it is the ‘go to’ place for everyone and anyone to ‘check you out’. Whether it is someone you met at a networking event, a meeting, or even a family party! Even potential clients may check LinkedIn to see what qualifications and experience you have, over and above reading your website’s ‘About page’. So, it is worth investing some time in your profile, ensuring it is up-to-date and a good reflection of what you currently do and your work history.
If you do not have much time, then at the very least…sort out your picture, job title and add a website, and then, write a good summary. It is the best place to start.
Sort your profile picture
If you don’t have a profile picture on LinkedIn, add one as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be a professionally-taken headshot, but it should be a professional looking photograph in terms of your expression, your stance and the background. Your photograph should only contain you (no one else…or your pet!) and should really only be of your head and shoulders, so viewers of your profile can see your face. Importantly, it should also be fairly recent – again to be a faithful representation of what you look like.
Check your job title
Make sure your job title is correct and also consistent. For example, if you have a job title on your email signature and somewhere on your website, make sure these are consistent with what you put on LinkedIn. If your business has a LinkedIn Company Page, make sure you link with this too.
There is some who advise that you should make your job title stand out. I think this is fine if it suits your personality and industry, however, I think most people looking on LinkedIn just want to know what you do and so good ol’ plain English seems the safest bet to me. If you don’t have an official job title then think what would you answer if someone said ‘what do you do in no more that 5 words?’
Add your website
You can also add your company website to the ‘introduction’ section of LinkedIn. This is incredibly useful if you have your own business.
Write a good summary
The summary is a wonderful opportunity to explain what you do and about your business.
I recommend an opening headline, i.e. “A content consultant who specialises in copywriting, editing and strategy development”. And then two to three paragraphs below about who you are and what you do, as well as important experience, projects, roles or jobs you have had. Write in first person.
I have suggested 2-3 paragraphs, because I think more than this rather goes against the idea of a summary. This is not really the place for your full work history. LinkedIn allows you to include all of your work experience, as well as your education and volunteer experience, and for each ‘entry’ you can include its own description/summary of what you do/did, so there is plenty of space for detail of roles elsewhere. If you are happy with just one paragraph, then don’t force it. You can include bullet points if you feel it best reflects you and is suitable for your industry and would meet client expectation.
I say ‘be passionate’, but please try to avoid the word ‘passionate’! Every year LinkedIn releases a list of buzzwords which are essentially the most commonly used (or overused!) words on LinkedIn – ‘passionate’ and ‘specialist’ nearly always rank amongst the highest.
Write about what drives you, what you find most interesting and, even, what you think the future will hold within your industry or for your business. Be positive and upbeat in your summary and reflect your personality. It is another reason why I think using first person, ‘I’ ‘me’, is the best. It seems more natural.
Unique is probably another buzzword but remember that for most, your job title alone won’t make you stand out. I know there are 100s of ‘consultants’ and ‘copywriters’ and ‘editors’ within my own county in the UK, let alone across the whole world!
Therefore, as well as explaining clearly what you do and what you can offer, think about what makes you a bit different from the rest. What do you see as the most important development in your industry perhaps? What areas do you specialise in? What experience or skills do you have which others may not?
I love it when people say about their vision, philosophy or ethos – so for example:
‘A beautician committed to using organic and natural products.
I grow my own herbs and flowers, which I use in my treatments and to decorate my therapy room.’
Everyone is usually driven my something other than ‘earning money’ or has an interest in some specialist area of their profession, so make sure you share it.
Get some help
When you have written your summary, leave some a time and then go back and proofread it, ensuring it is free from typos and grammatical errors. My best tip is to read it out loud, to check it for clarity and flow.
If you are worried or are not sure what information to share, then do ask for help.
Anyone can view a profile (there are some choice of settings), but if it is someone you trust any way, make them a connection and get them to take a look.