Before I first speak with prospective clients, I take a look at their LinkedIn profiles. I want to determine whether or not they’re using LinkedIn to full advantage, and to find out more about them than what’s in the executive resume they’ve sent me.
And, I want to see what executive recruiters and hiring decision makers see when they search for this candidate on LinkedIn, and land on their profile.
Will the content make this candidate attractive to them?
Often I see just a drab paragraph or two in their Summary sections consisting of a string of keywords padded with just enough verbs to make the sentences flow.
Yes, the right keywords are critical to help them get found. But the minimal amount of information there does nothing to differentiate or distinguish them from others who offer similar expertise.
The same paragraphs could be plunked down into the profile of just about any other executive doing the same kind of work.
Here are some things to remember to optimize your LinkedIn Summary section:
Personal branding generates chemistry.
Sure, personal branding includes your strengths and areas of expertise – which usually translate to relevant keywords – but don’t forget the “personal” part of personal branding.
Give yourself permission to express your individuality and personality, and let people know what you’re like to work with.
When you do the personal branding work, you’ll uncover things like your key personal attributes, passions, and values, to help you define what differentiates the value you offer over your competitors.
Some ways to show your personality in the content:
Include a few specific examples (with metrics, if possible) of past contributions that benefited your employers, using the Challenges – Actions – Results (CARs) method.
Add a quote from someone you work with (info not included in one of your LinkedIn recommendations) that supports your brand and unique value.
Include a saying you’re known for, or describe your leadership style, or your philosophy.
Write in first person, using the word “I”, to make a more vibrant connection with people than third person.
If a passion of yours led you to do the kind of work you do, describe that passion and how it lead you to your current path.
Choose your top 3 or 4 areas of expertise (or relevant keywords) and, in bulleted points, provide an achievement of yours in each area.
For visual appeal, make sure you include plenty of white space and short paragraphs. Add some pizzazz with special characters. Break down the information into sub-sections, with headers in all caps, as I’ve done in my LinkedIn Summary.
A little more about relevant keywords and phrases.
Try to set aside space for your “Specialties”, where you can list those keywords that represent your areas of expertise.
Use all the space allowed.
LinkedIn allows 2,000 characters and spaces in your Summary section. Do your best to use it all. Remember that more content = more relevant keywords = increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or better find-ability for your profile, and for you.
Edit and proof the content before posting.
Do your writing in a Word document and use SpellCheck. But also carefully proof it yourself. SpellCheck sometimes gets things wrong.
To keep the content within the 2,000 allotment, use Word’s character count feature. Click on the “Review” tab in the document, then in the “Proofing” box to the far left under the tab, click on the little icon showing “ABC” with “123″ below it. This will give you the character count, but doesn’t include spaces, so you may need to do some more minor editing as you post the content to LinkedIn.
Include misspellings and other names you’re known by.
Leave a little extra space at the bottom of the Summary to list these so that people who search your name using a misspelling, alternate name, or nickname will still find your profile.