I so enjoyed meeting many of you in Nashville last month – what a fabulous group of driven go-getters!
If you’re motivated to forge a stronger personal brand, this article follows up on what you learned in Nashville, and ensures you cross your T’s and dot your I’s on LinkedIn. Before we begin, a few important concepts to keep in mind:
First, your LinkedIn profile is indexed by Google; anyone and everyone who searches your name will find you there. That’s why it is so very important that you make a positive, lasting impression.
Second, if you think LinkedIn is just for people in job-search mode, think again. Today, with more than 610 million members at the time of posting, it is how business leaders find, review, connect, and refer one another.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the world is in fact getting smaller: we are only two and a half to three degrees of separation from one another. In addition, everyone from prospects, clients, decision-makers, partners, investors, trade media, to employee candidates; reviews your profile. In this way, your online personal brand not only catapults your career, it may also impact company sales, marketing, and talent acquisition.
With that in mind, here is a top-to-bottom checklist to ensure your LinkedIn profile is as smart and polished as you are.1. Headline
Think of your Headline as a banner ad – a string of keywords to help people find you online, and quickly understand your skills and expertise. As such, your LinkedIn Headline need not (dare I say, should not) be your job title. Use keywords or phrases that describe who you are, what you do, and how you add value.
For example, if your title is VP, Customer Education then your Headline might read something like this: Customer Success & Education Leader | Training Design & Delivery for Scale | Sales, Adoption & Retention. Check out CEdMA member Pat Durante on LinkedIn for more inspiration!2. About
The About section on LinkedIn is like a press release written about you. The way we write press releases follows a formula often described as an inverted pyramid. The widest part at the top is where we tell the reader the most important details – the who, what, where, when, and so on. Have you heard the phrase “don’t bury the lede?” Make it clear how you want to be known by your network. The middle section provides important information that fills in your “why” and gives the reader insight into your purpose and passion - the bigger picture, if you will. And at the very bottom (the tip of the upside-down pyramid) are interesting facts and details.
If all you do is write a short paragraph summarizing who you are and what you do, that’s a win. But the more you share your story, the more interesting it will be to readers. I counsel clients to be honest, authentic, and share just enough personal information so the reader believes you’re someone they might like to know… someone they can trust.
A bonus tip is to repeat the keywords and phrases that underscore your personal brand as your write your personal press release. The more frequently these words appear on your profile, the more likely someone searching for those terms is to find you.
Most people use the Experience section to list the jobs they’ve held; some go so far as to eliminate any prior jobs that don’t align with their current career trajectory. I suggest you consider this section an opportunity to show that in whatever role you held, you crush it! When I land on your profile, I want to see your track record of success… from your humble beginnings to the leader you are today. Why? Because that makes you human. And relatable. Working your way through community college as an office assistant only to become the leader you are today is inspiring! And transparency builds trust. Current CEdMA Board President, Danielle Campbell’s profile does a fabulous job of this. And when your job title is not intuitive (for example, Account Executive vs Sales Executive), err on the side of clarity. Remember, LinkedIn is not a legal document. Don’t exaggerate but do choose words that help paint a clear and accurate picture of your accomplishments. By way of example, in my very first job out of school I was officially a secretary, but I called myself a Marketing Assistant for clarity.
Review the Education, Volunteer Experience, Skills & Endorsementssections carefully. Often times we forget to update LinkedIn as our priorities shift and our personal brand evolves. Take a minute to review the Skills you are endorsed for. Oftentimes members of your LinkedIn network endorse you for skills that don’t align with your personal brand. Unless you make a living by designing presentations, you don’t need PowerPoint listed among your top skills. Take a moment to clean it the endorsements so each unique skill or area of expertise is truly part of your personal brand story.5. Accomplishments (Honors & Awards, Organizations, Publications, etc.)
Tell your story as fully as you can. Don’t be shy when it comes to success – people like to know, refer and buy from successful people. And they like to work alongside them too. Your personal brand is an extension of your company’s employer brand… in other words, rock stars attract rock stars!
Be sure to include one. Your profile is 11 to 14 times more likely to be viewed with a picture. It need not be professionally taken, but it should portray you as a professional. If you’ve squished a photo of your entire family taken circa 2014 in front of your Christmas tree, it’s time to take a selfie!
Ensure that any address, phone, email or web URL listed is current. This is what mine looks like – notice the three URLs that direct you to other company assets. And please, if you have a dormant or private Twitter account, there’s no need to point there. Some information is actually best left unshared.
I hope you find this framework helpful. If you have any questions, referrals or ideas just drop me a line at Sima@SimaDahl.com or ring 312-884-1888 – I’m here to help!
Sima Dahl is a branding visionary who will revolutionize the way you think about generating demand for you and what you do. Her early career as an award-winning marketer paved the way for Sway Factor™, her ground-breaking approach to self-promotion that helps strengthen business and employer brands too. An award-winning keynote speaker, corporate trainer and coach, Sima has graced stages from Boston to Budapest and worked with clients for to Zebra Technologies to help people and businesses grow. With bold candor, unfiltered honesty and her signature charismatic style, Sima will challenge you to stand out, stay relevant, and be in demand. Learn more at SimaDahl.com.