Updated: Jan 12, 2022
When I got active on LinkedIn a couple of years ago, I was fascinated how some profiles stood so strong and different from others. I wanted to learn how I too could make my LinkedIn profile stand out. So, I started looking out for people & profiles that could teach, inspire or guide me. One by one, they kept showing up on my feed.
I attended LinkedIn growth programs, spent time observing some of the best profiles and did a lot of ‘trial & error’ over last two years. All of this helped me gain some understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Here are the ‘8 Steps to building an impactful LinkedIn profile’ from my experience:
Step 1: Profile Picture
The first thing that most people notice on your LinkedIn profile is your profile picture. A good one will go a long way and will certainly get you more clicks on your profile. So, what can be considered a good profile picture for LinkedIn? There are no rules to it, but I follow the below guideline:
A nice, professional headshot of my smiling face with a simple background!
There are four elements to this:
Nice: First and foremost, I should like this picture of myself. The brand I am planning to project to the world must be close to my heart.
Professional: Preferably in formals or solid clothes. Like I said, there are no fixed rules, but formal and solids make you look more matured and authoritative.
Smiling face: A smiling face can subconsciously make people perceive you as friendly and approachable. So, you are projecting an authoritative image with your clothes, yet a friendly one with your face.
Simple background: The less the clutter, more the focus. Keeping a simple or plain background brings the attention to you.
If you don’t have a picture that meets the above guidelines, find something that works, or get dressed for a photoshoot.
Step 2: Headline
The second thing that people notice on your LinkedIn profile is your headline. The stronger the headline, the better are the chances of getting more profile views.
To write a strong headline, ask yourself these three questions:
Who am I?
Who do I help?
What results can I create for others?
For example, my headline is: Communication and Public Speaking Coach| Helping professionals communicate with confidence, clarity and impact
If you can define these three things well, there are high chances that you will have a better headline than most profiles on LinkedIn.
Step 3: Cover Picture
As soon as someone clicks on your profile, your cover picture gets the attention. This is the visual that speaks more than words. It builds the initial credibility. This is your opportunity to give them a glance of your work. It can also be about your work/life philosophy. I use this space to showcase a glimpse from one of my training programs.
Use this space creatively as the impact of your cover picture may decide if the visitor would spend more time on your profile. If possible, pay to a graphics designer and get it done for you, or design it yourself on Canva.
Step 4: Featured Section
This is the most sacred space on your LinkedIn profile which can build credibility, showcase your skills or be a CTA (call to action). Most people will avoid reading your bio, but will certainly check your featured section.
I have put up my coaching program link in my featured section. I have never promoted my coaching program directly as a post on LinkedIn, but the link still gets hundreds of views every month from people who visit my profile when I put out content. This is how powerful it is!
Step 5: About
A good profile summary or 'About' adds on to your credibility, tells your story and shows your originality. Most professionals don’t pay a lot of attention to their bio on LinkedIn, which can be a big mistake if you are building a personal brand.
Some cliché words to avoid in your 'About' section: Dynamic professional, Demonstrated history, Passionate, Motivated, Experienced professional, Ninja etc.
The key to a good bio is authenticity and originality. There are no rules, but let me give you a guideline in case you are still struggling to write a compelling bio:
Write in first person, not in third person
Start with who you are and what you do
Give a background story
Write about your major achievements
A little about your personal interests
Who are you looking to connect with?
Step 6: Experience
Add all the experiences in this section, even non-paid internships and non-profit engagements, but keep it authentic!
In each and every experience, make sure you describe your role and what outcomes you achieved with that role. This will add further credibility to it.
If you are someone who is just starting off their career, it’s okay, don’t be intimidated by other people’s experience. Just write whatever you have done and keep on doing your best work. Your time will come!
Step 7: Skills and Endorsements
The top three skills mentioned should be the ones that will get you business or a job. If you are an IT engineer, your top three skills should be your hard skills. Soft skills can follow later!
Most people make this mistake to adding more skills to their profile. Some even add skills that they don’t have. Keep it real and authentic, even if you have just three skills. Too many skills here don’t make for a stronger profile for two reasons:
It makes you look like a ‘jack of all traits’, master of none.
It gets you less endorsements on real skills as they get distributed all over.
They key is to add only the relevant skills, and not to add just for the sake of adding more. When you are authentic, people somehow know it!
Step 8: Content Creation
Once all of the above is in place, content creation plays a major role in getting discovered. The content you post shows your capabilities and knowledge.
When I started creating content, I faced two major challenges:
Fear of judgement
Lack of content ideas
So, I started posting my real-life stories on LinkedIn, because I don’t need any credibility on any subject to share my life experiences. If you are new in the game of content creation, start with sharing your experiences and personal stories. Over time, with enough experience, you’ll find your courage and community. The key here is to start!
As you work on your LinkedIn profile, I want you to remember that all good things take time. As you slowly grow in your career and life, it will start reflecting on social media and your profile will get stronger each passing month. This is a game of patience and consistency which brings big results in the long run. There is no wrong time to do the right thing. Similarly, there is no wrong time to build your LinkedIn profile, but the earlier you start, the better.
Arise and shine!