I get questions all the time from professionals asking me about how to manage their LinkedIn profiles. These inquiries are not about marketing on LinkedIn – instead, they are about best practices for conducting one’s self as a professional on this social channel.
Given how many people have asked, I’m writing this post to share my thoughts on how we, as professionals, can deal with various aspects of our profiles. Here are my responses: five tips for maximizing your profile.
- A photograph is a “must have”- not a “nice to have”
People want to see who you are. And LinkedIn’s own internal user data shows that those with a photograph get viewed 14 times more than those without. Even if you’re shy or don’t think that you look good in photographs, it’s important to have one in order to “get found.”
That said, the ideal size for a photo is 400 x 400 pixels, according to LinkedIn. You can use larger sized files (up to 8MB) but don’t go smaller or use low-resolution images, as this will not look professional (you’ll be blurry and the entire experience will feel “unprofessional.”)
There’s a great LinkedIn article with much more detail about what to wear, the right background to use, etc. I recommend you take a look if you’re not sure how to get the best photo.
2) Take advantage of your LinkedIn “cover” – that image at the top of your profile
What in the world should you have as your LinkedIn profile image? I’ve seen people be very creative here and I think that the more creative, the better.
If you work in a large organization, there may be brand-friendly templates available that you can use and even personalize. If not, pick something that’s of interest to you that shows off who you are, what you do, and why you do it (see below!).
3) Create an unconventional “headline”
Most people use their job title for their “headline.” That’s fine if you’re the Founder of a cool company that everyone knows, or if your title is impressive. However, if it’s not going to “wow” people, there are better ways to advance your career. And it’s also not a great way to attract new customers or clients, if you’re an entrepreneur or work in a smaller company.
Instead, I often recommend people start with what problems they solve (that’s a marketing approach) or with their “why?” If you’re not familiar with the idea of identifying “what’s your why?” I recommend this YouTube video with Simon Sinek. It’s been shared and viewed millions of times because his idea is so important. As Sinek notes, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
The best example he provides is Apple, and he explains how they’ve placed themselves on a plateau above their competition using their “why” positioning. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you watch the video to get the full impact of what he’s saying. And to hear the other messages he shares, including how people make decisions. People make decisions using the emotional area of their brain – it’s a scientific fact! So it’s critical to appeal to that emotional area in what you share on your profile.
4) Keep your contact information current
This one isn’t intuitive to a lot of people; what’s the big deal with my contact information? Well, as someone who’s tried to reach out to colleagues over the years, the problem is when these emails are no longer used or you don’t look at that email address anymore.
If you want your contacts to be able to get in touch with you – especially if you don’t look at your LinkedIn messages (and are not notified of them) – you need to be sure that your email is current and that you keep an eye on it. You never know when someone might reach out to you with a great contact, opportunity, or idea!
5) Be careful who you connect with – your network is one of your greatest assets!
If you’re active on LinkedIn, you’ll notice that you get lots of people reaching out to connect with you. This happens to me all the time and, at the beginning, I would accept. But I soon learned not to and this is the reason why.
Your network is one of your greatest assets as a professional. They are your “go to” people. Some of them are key people in your career – who will help you, who want you to succeed, who will reach out to congratulate you when something good happens, or will offer to help if you need it.
For that reason, it’s not a great idea to connect with people you don’t know. I did this until someone asked if I could introduce them to a contact. I realized I didn’t know them at all and was unable to do this or them. So remember: part of your experience and knowledge wealth is your contact list.
People who don’t know you and reach out to connect typically fall into one of the following categories:
- They’re social selling and they’re doing it poorly. The moment you connect they will try to sell you something, or ask to set up a demo for you, or push something on you that you don’t want.
- They’re social selling and they’re doing it well. That is, they want to connect and have something to offer but they know that the best networking is about relationships. So they ask to connect and, sometime in the future, they may come back to you to see if they can help with a service or product.
- They’re looking to expand their network for good reasons: to get a job, to find a new vendor, to do research, etc.
As a professional, I want to meet people in the last category – I love to help! And I may even be interested in the 2nd category if it’s a product or service I have been introduced to and may be of interest in the future. Typically, people in this category attach a reason they’d like to connect, or they write a message so there’s some context as to why I should connect to them. I like these and react favorably to them.
What I definitely don’t want is to be harassed by people in the first category. So here’s what I typically do. If the person seems interesting, I answer their request to connect with a message, saying, “I typically don’t connect on LinkedIn with people I don’t know first-hand. Is there a question you have that I can answer, or something I can do to help you?”
If someone is trying to sell me something, they usually don’t respond to this. So they go away and I’m happy. I recommend you try this next time it happens!
Not sure how to manage your LinkedIn profile to your best advantage? Contact me and let’s talk about how I can help!