Many of us spend a great deal of time and energy on building brands. We’re good at it – but do we apply those skills to building our own personal brands? For many of us, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. My LinkedIn profile could be built better – and I’m not the only one who struggles with this.
The fact is, most of us don’t get around to marketing ourselves because we’re too busy, and it’s sometimes egotistical to invest time in ourselves. However, neglecting personal branding means we miss out on a big sales opportunity as well.
Your LinkedIn profile is the cornerstone of your personal branding, with new features being added regularly to improve its capabilities as a personal marketing platform and provide you with new ways to communicate your skills and motivations. Take a look at your profile page if you haven’t done so recently. You may discover some new ways to market yourself.
Some of these profile features are very quick wins, some may take some time, but they are all very worthwhile. They will help you to have the LinkedIn profile and personal brand that you deserve. Here are the 20 features:
1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile picture is right.
You should consider your profile picture to be your calling card on LinkedIn – it’s how people find you and (being visual beings) it will determine their impressions right away. Some great posts explain how to pick the right profile picture on LinkedIn, but here are a few tips to get you started: Your picture should be recent and look like you, you should make up your face around 60% of the picture (long-distance shots don’t stand out), you should wear what you would normally wear to work, and you should smile.
2. Put a picture as a background.
Your background photo acts as a visual accent at the top of your profile page. It grabs attention, sets the context, reveals a little more about who you are and what you’re interested in. It makes your page stand out, engage attention, and remain memorable.
3. Give your headline a little more than just a job title.
Use the headline field to tell us a bit more about how you view your role, what motivates you to do what you do, and what makes you tick. Take a look at your company’s sales reps’ profile pages for inspiration. You’ll probably find more than just their job titles listed there.
4.Use your summary to tell your story.
Make sure you have a LinkedIn summary! It’s amazing how many people still leave this field blank when creating their LinkedIn profile. It is your chance to tell your own story – so don’t just list your skills or your job titles. Tell the reader why those skills are important, and how they can benefit the people you work with. It’s important to put some time into it, draft a few versions, and run it past people you know. This is one of your most personal pieces of content marketing – and it’s worth the effort.
5.Put an end to buzzwords.
In LinkedIn headlines and summaries, buzzwords are adjectives that are so frequently used that they lose all meaning. Overused buzzwords include terms such as ‘specialized’, ‘leadership’, ‘focused’, ‘strategic’, ‘experienced’, ‘passionate’, ‘expert’, ‘creative’, ‘innovative’ and ‘certified’. However, just using these words won’t convince people that you possess these qualities. I’m not saying you can’t describe yourself as these things – or that they don’t matter.
6. Expand your network.
Connecting your LinkedIn profile with your email address book is an easy way to expand your network. This enables LinkedIn to suggest people you should connect with. This is a pretty effective way to get in touch with relevant people – and no connections are sent without your permission, so you can vet all the possibilities. You can also follow up on meetings and conversations with LinkedIn connection requests – it’s a great way to keep your network vibrant and up-to-date.
7. Make a list of the skills you have.
This is an easy way to boost your profile on LinkedIn – scroll through the list of skills and identify those you possess. This helps in substantiating the content in your Headline and Summary and gives others a chance to endorse you. However, the key here is staying relevant. A long list of skills that aren’t really core to who you are and what you do, can start to feel unwieldy. Take time for a spring clean of your skills list every now and then
8. Highlight your services.
LinkedIn’s new Services feature allows consultants, freelancers and those working for smaller companies to highlight their services. Filling out the Services section of your LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility in search results.
9. Proactively manage your endorsements.
Once endorsements start to roll in, you may find that they cause your LinkedIn profile to take on a different slant that does not fit with your personal brand. Perhaps your core area of expertise is content marketing, but the people who have worked with you on events are more enthusiastic endorsers. Use the editing features in the Skills section of your profile to manage your endorsements list – you can choose which endorsements to display and which to hide.
The process of making your LinkedIn profile work harder for you doesn’t have to take hours of your time. You will find that even if you can set aside a few minutes during a lunch break or in the evening, you can make progress quickly by working through these ideas. If you fully utilize your LinkedIn profile, you’ll be surprised at how much difference it can make to both you and your business.