Change Your LinkedIn Profile, Change Your Life: 9 Tips

Candy squares with wrappers featuring LinkedIn logo

What does it take to get from a 16-year-old waitress to a business owner by the age of 30? Of course there’s a lot of hard work and dedication, and probably some education and experience thrown in, too, but the biggest tool used by this success story was her connections and the power of her LinkedIn profile.

You can go read her story on LinkedIn’s blog. But before that, you should probably take her advice and get your profile shining as soon as possible.

LinkedIn is the most important professional networking tool – and the most ignored.

If you’re like most people, you probably threw your profile together and then let it just molder, updating it only when you had a new position or career.

Yawn.

This lack of attention costs you jobs and connections. So how do you make your LinkedIn profile kick ass?

Here are 9 tips.

First, though, turn the Notify your network setting to OFF.

LinkedIn Notify Your Network setting

This will stop your connections from being flooded with your updates until you’re ready. When you’re done, you can turn it back on.

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1. Make Your Headline Memorable

A great headline will get people to look at your profile. A lousy one will put them to sleep.

LinkedIn profile showing picture and headline

Make your headline memorable, professional, and maybe even funny — depending on the industry you’re in and the connections you’re trying to attract.

Instead of “Lead Writer at Scrubly Inc.” you could say “Chief Scrubber and Content Creation Specialist for Scrubly, Inc.”

You’ll have a chance to list your job titles and companies later in your profile. For now, be catchy.

2. Be Specific

Give as much detail as necessary (but no more) so the person checking you out isn’t left wondering about your skills or abilities.

For example, don’t just say you’re in charge of new accounts. Instead, how about this:

Currently I am in charge of new accounts at Scrubly. I handle 100-250 new accounts per week and personally follow each from start to finish, including final follow-up communications via email and social media to verify their experience was top-notch and to remedy any issues that come up along the way.

3. Make Your Summary Matter

Next to your headline, your summary is the most important piece of your profile. LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters for your summary (about 400 words). Use ’em all:

Don’t leave it blank. The summary is a commonly read field when users search for you. Most important, it’s also a highly searchable field when other users are trying to find someone with your skill set.

Tell a story. Use the Problem–Action–Result format to show your skills in a real-world situation. For example:

“I started working for Scrubly to help with an issue of stagnant account growth in the previous year. By enacting an effective content strategy I’ve been able to not only eliminate this issue, but to grow new accounts by a magnitude of 5 in the past 6 months alone.”

This gives you a trifecta of useful information:

  • It shows your skills.
  • It gives you keywords.
  • It makes you more personable.

Break it up. Use headers, sub-headers, and images to make your summary stand out.

4. Be a Pro on Your Profile Picture

Unlike on Twitter and Facebook, where you use a variety of images for your profile, including illustrations and action shots, on LinkedIn you want to make sure you’re easy to identify in your profile picture. That doesn’t mean you need to be wearing a suit and sitting at a desk, but instead it should be a head-on picture in good lighting that represents your core skills listed in your profile.

Tony Robbins LinkedIn profile showing his profile picture and background image

For example, if your profile makes you seem like someone expected to wear a suit, you should have one on in your profile. If you’re a professional brewer, you should probably have a portrait-style picture taken of you with your brewing equipment. People will use this image to recognize you at networking events and when meeting in person, so make sure you can be recognized easily from it, since services like Scrubly sync this image to your contacts’ address book entry for you.

A newer feature in LinkedIn profiles is the background image. You can now add a header image to your profile to give it some extra zing. If you haven’t uploaded a picture here yet, you should have a blue rectangle with “Edit Background” on it hovering above your profile picture.

The image you use should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels and should be used to help people better identify the main goal of your profile. Your company logo or an image of items in your target field works nicely. Make sure the image is not blurry or pixelated and that no key piece of the image is cut off.

Pro Tip: Your header image is a perfect place to list contact information. This takes a little skill using a graphics program like Photoshop or the free alternative GIMP, but with a little practice you should be able to make something pretty easily. At the very least, find a stock image from your field of expertise and crop it to fit.

Why It Matters: Profiles with a picture generally have 14 times the views of profiles without an image.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

5. Reorder Your Skills

When you list your skills, they’re displayed in a long list of squares in reverse chronological order, with the first skills you entered showing up last. Chances are this isn’t how you’d ideally like them to show up. Instead of showing your skills in this random order, you can drag and drop them to reorder them.

Skills tiles on LinkedIn profile

Order your skills so the ones you’re most proud of and that relate to your current field show at the top and the less important ones show at the bottom. Most people will only read the first 3 to 10 skills, so make sure the ones you need people to see are in there.

6. List Volunteer Work

Everyone has volunteered somewhere before, and showing this in your profile gives prospective employers and connections a small view into what matters most to you. Be honest in this section, but try to list at least one charitable group you belong or donate to. There’s not much optimization required here – just be honest and don’t be afraid to brag a little.

7. Publish Updates Regularly

Much like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn allows users to publish updates for their connections to see. These are searchable and sharable, so publishing posts that relate to your industry is a great way to show people what you know and the information you keep abreast of.

Don’t just publish your own posts and information in these updates, though, as this can lead to your getting blocked for spam. Think of updates less as a place for self-promotion and more as somewhere to interact with your connections. Staying active with updates shows that your account is active and that you’re still in your listed field.

8. Advice for Contact

The last bit of advice for your LinkedIn profile is about the last item that shows up on your page, and that’s how to contact you. This section is meant for more than your email address and phone number, though.

Advice for Contact section on a LinkedIn profile

List why and how you would like to be contacted in a few sentences. If you’re hunting for a new job, use this section to say what type of job you’re looking for, what freelance jobs you have time for, and any positions you would be interested in. This helps potential customers or employers know what you want and the best way to get in touch.

If you list your email address here, it’s recommended that you spell it out completely so bots can’t grab it and spam you. In other words, like so:

chief.scrubber (at) Scrubly (dot) com

9. Everything Else

Everything comes down to this: take your time and make the profile useful to your readers.

LinkedIn is a great way to connect with like-minded people and make connections that can help you not only in business but in life as a whole. By listing your personal interests you can connect with others in your field who love to run, swim, bike, or even enjoy a good cigar. Now when you see them at that next conference you know something to suggest when looking for a networking event, as do they.

Devote some time to polishing your LinkedIn profile and try to straddle the line between professional and overly self-promoting. You want to keep everything in your profile honest while showcasing what you’re capable of.

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