With over 774 million members in 200 countries around the globe, LinkedIn is one of the world’s most popular social networks. In the business world, having a robust LinkedIn profile has become crucial for forming new connections, meeting clients, accessing job opportunities and so much more.
Regardless of how you primarily use LinkedIn, however, the vast majority of people aren’t harnessing the full potential of this platform — and their profile is often largely to blame. A poorly optimized profile means that many opportunities will be missed entirely.
As Josh Steimle, author of “60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery” explains, however, optimizing your LinkedIn profile isn’t as insurmountable an obstacle as you might think.
Transform Your About Section
The About section — also sometimes referred to as your bio or summary — is one of the first things people will see when they click on your LinkedIn profile. According to Steimle, this means it should be one of your top priorities when optimizing your profile.
“The first three lines are far and away the most important section,” he explains.
“That’s the part of your bio that is actually displayed to other users — if they want to read the rest of it, they have to click to expand. Those first three lines are what convinces other people to keep reading, so it’s where you need to tell a compelling story about yourself. Craft your hook by telling what you do, who you do it for and most importantly, how you accomplish it. This is a surefire way to draw in your target audience.”
To make your about section more compelling, Steimle also recommends writing it entirely in first person (ie. when you say “I have…” rather than “Bob has…”). This makes the bio more personable and engaging, while also helping you appear more approachable to others.
Truly Showcase Experiences and Accomplishments
“LinkedIn should be so much more than a digital version of your resume, but unfortunately that’s exactly how many people treat it,” Steimle says. “Bullet point lists aren’t going to catch anyone’s attention. On the other hand, when you add a story to your work experiences, you become more human and your accomplishments seem much more real. A brief experience where you talk about a job you were assigned to do, the specific challenges you overcame and successes you achieved, will be far more engaging — especially if you’re hoping to catch the attention of a recruiter.”
Your experience section isn’t the only area where you can provide a deeper glimpse into your background. For example, you can also add a section that highlights your past volunteer experiences. While these may not be directly applicable to the desired job, listing such experiences can help others feel like they get to know you better, highlight your diverse background, or even make you a more appealing candidate.
Whenever you can highlight quantifiable achievements in these and other areas, be sure to include them. Cut out unnecessary padding so the highlights don’t get lost in the clutter. Showing your experience with achievements and highlights is far more engaging than simply telling what your previous roles and responsibilities have been.
Get (and Give) Endorsements and Recommendations
LinkedIn’s endorsements and recommendations features are the platform’s built-in form of social proof — as well as a way of providing valuable references. As a starting point, you should list relevant skills that you have, and allow others to endorse you for these skills — the more skills and endorsements you have, the more attention your profile will receive. You also won’t look like a spammer when you reach out to others!
While endorsements simply require a single click, recommendations are more in-depth, ranging from a few sentences to several paragraphs describing why you are great at what you do. Steimle actually recommends that you get at least 20 recommendations to flesh out your profile and build social proof.
“That number may seem daunting, but it’s actually quite doable,” he explains.
“Start by giving recommendations and endorsements to others in your network. Give genuine, meaningful recommendations that add value to their profile. LinkedIn will automatically ask them to write one for you in return — and more often than not, they’re willing to do so. Another easy time to ask for a recommendation is after you have a positive experience with a client or coworker. When they’re already pleased with your work, they’re far more likely to write a glowing recommendation.”
Complete the Transformation
Steimle is quick to note that these are far from the only things you can do to optimize your LinkedIn profile. “A lot of optimization tips can be done in just a few minutes — like setting up a custom URL, fine-tuning your headline or adding a banner image that represents your personal brand,” he explains. “By using these little things to build out your profile, you go a long way in legitimizing yourself on LinkedIn. Whether you’re trying to find a job or build your brand authority, these small steps will make a big difference.”
The sooner you begin optimizing your LinkedIn profile, the sooner you can reap the benefits. By performing a thorough audit of your profile and making improvements to these and other areas, you’ll be better equipped to use this social platform to accomplish your career goals.