One of the most important aspects of maintaining your professional image is having a polished LinkedIn profile. Though many think of LinkedIn as a social tool meant solely for finding a new job, that’s far from the case — it’s an important network for all employees. Not only does it help you stay connected with your peers, but you’ll stay up to date with industry trends and even find prospective candidates by regularly using the platform.
Perhaps you have a LinkedIn profile already but haven’t put much effort into it — or maybe you’re not on LinkedIn at all. Whatever the case may be, here are five tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile that will help you network more successfully and ensure you look your best on this professional platform.
Use the Right Photos
A friendly, yet professional, headshot is extremely important for expanding your network and maintaining authority on LinkedIn. You’ll want a photo of yourself that’s up-to-date, well-lit, and reflective of your brand — feel free to use a photograph of yourself speaking at a work-related event, or in an office setting. This not only allows people to easily find you but will also make it easier for strangers to want to share your work and engage in your content.
Similarly, your header picture — the banner image at the very top of your profile — should be reflective of your interests while still appropriate for a professional environment. This is a great place to showcase any hobbies you engage in or places you’ve visited, as it can serve as a conversation starter for people who look at your profile. Make sure you’re using the correct image specs (1128 x 191) so that it isn’t distorted.
Have a Precise URL
Did you know you can customize your exact LinkedIn URL? This makes it easy to direct people to your profile. The one that LinkedIn automatically assigns you may be peppered with unnecessary numbers or characters, so cleaning up your URL will look more professional on top of being more shareable.
To change it, simply view your profile and click on the “Edit public profile & URL” link on the top right side of the page. Your custom URL must contain at least 3 letters or numbers and cannot use spaces, symbols, or special characters — but there should be many options to customize the URL to your own professional brand!
Optimize Your Headline & Summary
Two key areas that definitely need attention on any LinkedIn profiles are your headline and your summary. Both should reflect your overall brand and professional experience, but each has different specs that require completely unique writeups.
Your headline is a maximum of 220 characters or less, and appears at the very top of your profile, right underneath your name! This is the space to let people know, very briefly, what it is that you do. Be succinct, but feel free to be clever — you don’t need to simply give your job title.
Your summary, aka the “About” section about halfway down your profile, maxes out at 2,000 characters, but you should avoid hitting that maximum. Here, you can go in-depth on your role, explain the benefits of working with you, and give a glimpse into your personality. Try to open with a quick hook to catch a reader’s attention. Explain who you are and why you’re great at what you do. List any standout achievements and share the best way to reach out to you, if you’re looking for connections.
While you can add a number of skills, job and volunteer experience to your profile, a way to prove you’ve got expertise in your field is via LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature. Any 1st-degree connection can write you a recommendation, which then shows up on your profile and in the LinkedIn feed.
Take the time to go through your LinkedIn connections and request a recommendation or two from colleagues or clients you’ve worked closely with in the past, or currently work with. A small but diverse array of recommendations will add tremendous professional weight to your existing profile and goes a long way in establishing you as a leader in your field.
Similarly, the “Activity” portion of your profile reflects how much you interact with your network — and as it has a high placement on your overall profile, you’ll want to regularly check on your LinkedIn feed and engage with your connections’ posts. Plus, the more you engage with others on LinkedIn, the more visibility you’ll get on your own profile from people who aren’t 1st degree connections.
Your own posts, as well as comments, shares, and more, will all show up under this “Activity” section. It also shows how many followers you have. A key tip: Make sure to like your own company’s page (ISC), and other pages of interest, so you can see their posts on your feed and interact with them as well.
Don’t Overdo It
Your LinkedIn profile has a number of fields to flesh out, such as the aforementioned skills and experiences, as well as areas like publications, projects, languages, interests, causes, and more. It may seem beneficial to fill each of these fields with as many keywords as possible, but ultimately, you’ll end up burying important information that makes you stand out.
Zero in on the most important aspects of yourself and your brand, and make sure those are clearly represented in one or each section. Your high school volunteer experience, for instance, may no longer be relevant if it’s decades old, and will bury later sections like publications you’ve been featured in. By highlighting only recent, necessary information, anyone scrolling through your profile will be able to quickly understand the type of person you are and your contributions to our firm.