How do people recognize you when they visit your LinkedIn profile? How to you want to be seen by others?
I don’t know anyone who does not have a LinkedIn profile. At the same time, I know very few people who have gone through the process of asking themselves how they want to be seen in the world.
In this article, I will talk about how to optimize two major areas of your LinkedIn profile that make the biggest difference in attracting the right people.
It’s Your Decision
Nobody tells you what you have to write on your LinkedIn profile. You are the only person who decides what is written there and how you want to be seen in the world.
Having this in mind creates an obligation. The obligation to not look at what everybody else does. It creates the obligation to ask yourself how you want to be seen and then express that through your communication.
One of the most important parts of the LinkedIn profile is your headline. Why? Because that’s usually the first thing people see next to your name. When you show up in search results, when people look at who visited their profile or when they get your connection request or InMail, the only thing they see is your name and the headline.
The main purpose of the headline is for people to click through to your profile, that’s it. If they see your headline and turn around, you have just lost a potential connection, maybe one that could have had an impact on your career. If people don’t click through to your profile, what’s on your profile does not matter at all because nobody will read it.
One of the first things I work on with my clients is embracing the business owner mindset, even if they are not business owners right now. This gets them into the right mindset that they need to be successful in todays business world and to excel in their career. The business owner picks himself and is his own leader. Let’s apply that here too.
An Average LinkedIn Profile Headline
This person has decided that “Business Executive” is the best headline for him. What’s the problem with it?
First of all, I have no clue what that person does. It’s a combination of two buzz words that can mean a million different things. The real issue is that if I’m a decision maker and I see that headline, I don’t know if he is relevant to me. The headline is not compelling, I don’t click through to his profile to read further, so I will never know if he is relevant.
Let’s compare it with a business. If you see a shop on your way to work that says “Coffee Shop”, how likely will you enter to see what they have? If you have things to do, like most people, you won’t even notice it.
A Better LinkedIn Profile Headline
Why is this one better?
First of all, because the title is much more specific. However, what’s more important is that she describes what she does in a brilliant way. She mentions who she works with and what she helps them achieve. That gives me a much better picture about what she does.
Also, if I am a decision maker, in this case a responsible leader, and I’m not living up to my full potential, I will most probably visit her profile to see what she has to say because I can see she is 100% relevant to me.
Let’s compare that to a business again. So you are on your way to work. It’s early morning and you are hungry and tired. You pass by a shop that says “Freshly roasted Columbian coffee and hot chocolate croissants”.
You may very well consider stopping to pick up your breakfast there because it’s relevant to you right now and it tells you what to expect.
The Core of a Great LinkedIn Profile Headline
There are many different opinions on what to include in your LinkedIn headline. I give you mine here.
What has worked best for my clients is a combination of a title and a Who & Do What Statement. Let me give you a few examples.
“Leadership Coach, helping purpose-driven leaders to turn their passion into a thriving career”
“Business Development Executive, helping technology startups grow their business”
“Customer Service Expert, helping telecom organizations increase customer retention”
“Management Consultant, helping life science organizations improve performance”
Do you see the difference?
The second most important thing on your LinkedIn profile is the summary. The reason why its second is because people can only see it once they visit your profile and without a compelling headline that leads people to click through to your profile, people don’t see what you have written in your summary.
The purpose of the summary is to inspire likeminded people to take action. It’s the place for you to be fully self-expressed and bold. It’s where you talk about what you believe in and what you stand for. It’s the place to write about your personal vision or mission.
Once people know you are relevant to them (based on what they see in your headline), you want to make an emotional connection with them in your summary. The way you make that connection is by sharing your Why. If they share your values, they will want to get in touch with you.
Sometimes, I feel people get confused about the name “Summary” because it inclines that you have to summarize something like your experience. You don’t have to do anything, you decide what goes into your LinkedIn summary and I offer you my opinion here.
An Average LinkedIn Summary
Why is this average? Because almost every profile I look at looks similar to this one. Maybe the experience is different but it does certainly not stand out.
What’s wrong with summarizing your experience? Basically nothing.
However, you may want to ask what the purpose of the summary is before you decide what to write there. If you agree with me that the summary acts to inspire people who share your values to take action, then talking about your experience and skills won’t do much good for you.
Sharing dry facts in your summary is just that, dry. Facts tell but stories sell. Facts are great to prove that you have skills and expertise but why would you do that twice on your LinkedIn profile, once in your summary and once again in your experience section?
Let’s look at it from a business perspective again. How inspiring is it for you to read a company’s brochure or website that says “We have over 100 years experience in manufacturing these products. We have more than 50’000 employees and work with most of the Fortune 500 companies.”?
Sure, it’s an important fact that shows that they are a stable company and have succeeded to some extent. However, how much do you really care about these information when you decide which company to hire or work with as a customer?
A Better LinkedIn Summary
Why is this one so much better? Well, first of all, it was very hard for me to find one that is inspiring, so it stands out.
In her summary, she talks about what she does, but more importantly, she talks about Why she does it, to create a better future. It creates an emotional connection. If you share her values, you are much more likely to want to get in touch with her if she is relevant to you.
Let’s again compare it to a business. If the brochure or website starts with “We stand for continuous education, excellence and authenticity. In everything we do, we work towards creating a better future where children learn through technology in ways that are mature for them.”
How is that different from talking about how many years that business exists and how big it is?
The Core of a Great LinkedIn Summary
If you agree that the purpose of the summary is to inspire action then its core needs to be inspiration and not facts. Facts are there to prove that what you do aligns with why you do it and you already talk about that later in your experience. However, you want to start with Why.
If you have worked with a coach on your personal vision or mission statement, on your personal brand or something similar, leverage that. Turn it into something that you can use in your LinkedIn summary.
If you don’t know where to start, let’s talk about how to create a personal brand that stands out and attracts the right people.
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