There’s no getting away from it. We’re online. Social networks have made our personal and professional lives more visible and, whether we like it or not, social networking is here to stay.
We’re all familiar with LinkedIn and, as the stats would suggest, we’re using it more and more.
(Primarily for job search, networking and – let’s face it – snooping on our old colleagues and class mates).
Having a captivating LinkedIn summary is essential if you’re serious about using LinkedIn to its fullest potential.
A crisp and highly engaging summary of your LinkedIn profile is the online equivalent of a firm handshake, a powerful elevator pitch and a sharp suit – all rolled into one.
Having said that, the thought of writing a LinkedIn summary still fills us with dread. Where do you start? What should you say?
In order to help you make your LinkedIn profile summary ultra click-worthy, I’ve put together these 7 rules to help you get started on the right track.
1. Have A Clear Purpose.
This is crucial. Don’t start to write until you’re clear on what results you want to produce (this applies not only to writing LinkedIn profiles – it’s the foundation of all effective marketing).
What are the top 3 things you want your LinedIn profile to achieve?
Obviously, reason number 1 is likely to have something to do with job search. How about other reasons? Do you want to reach out to potential clients? Are you thinking about applying for an MBA? Do you want to network with like-minded professionals?
Your purpose will influence not only your writing style, but also help you decide how to position yourself.
2. Know Your Audience.
You want your LinkedIn summary to introduce the reader to an impressive, clear and succinct set of achievements that are highly relevant to their needs.
In other words, you want your LinkedIn summary to communicate that you have the solution to the problem which has led the visitor to your LinkedIn profile.
For this, you need to be clear about who your audience is. I suggest that you put on your marketer’s hat and create buyer personas for the most common types of visitor you’d like to interact with your LinkedIn profile.
This is the part which is time-consuming and somewhat laborious; you’ll be tempted to skip over it. My advice is that you don’t for that exact reason – because so few of your competitors will have the commitment to do it, you’ll enjoy a significant competitive advantage.
3. Be Clear About Your Value.
What do you do? Why do you do it? What makes you different from another professional with exactly the same experience and education?
We have been conditioned into believing that we must learn “good” or “correct” answers to such questions in order to “impress” employers during the job search process.
I suggest you skip the theatrics and go deeper. Actually take the time to soul-search and figure out real answers to those questions for yourself (more on this later).
I find that going somewhere quiet and mediative really helps. This is my favourite “secret spot” to introspect and get clarity, by the way – the lovely Centennial Park in Sydney, a 10 minute walk from my home:
Perhaps it’s not so secret now, is it?
The best way to answer the question “what do you do?” is by explaining your value (or USP) in terms of a key strength, and giving an example of where you’ve demonstrated it.
If you’re struggling, think of an accomplishment from any time in your career brought you the most fulfillment … it’s likely to also be your most significant challenge.
4. Tell A Great Story.
An HR and recruitment professional sometimes sees over 100 LinkedIn profiles per day.
To make yours stand out it needs be more than just a list of jobs and achievements. It can’t be a rehash of your resume, either.
Think of it as narrative which features a main character (you) and a number of key elements which make a good story.
5. Adopt A Smart-Casual Tone.
We’re in the online world here. It’s the land of millennials, of Google and Twitter. Here, talking in a formal tone is a bit like rocking up to a casual lunch in a tuxedo.
Yes, your grammar must be spot on, but you can certainly become more fluid in your approach to language.
This isn’t a professional business brief, letter or resume, and as such, you have a degree of creative latitude. You want to engage, and most importantly, you want people to be able to relate to you.
6. Say Your LinkedIn Summary Out Loud.
To get this “voice” right, read your draft out loud. You’ve got it right when you can say it to your partner / flatmate / cat / mirror without tripping up over your words.
If your sentences are too long, too formal, or you wouldn’t say something about yourself to a room of people, cross it out and start again.
7. Be Visual.
Blocks of text are boring. Your content might be outstanding, but no one will read it if looks too long. (The same applies to resumes – if in doubt, seek services of a pro resume writer).
Break it up with subtitles, bullets or lines between paragraphs to keep the eyes moving and to highlight the really important parts of your text.
Don’t forget to keep it brief – LinkedIn has a limit of 2000 characters (including spaces), so you don’t have much time to get your point across.
Lastly, be authentic. Don’t copy parts of your company website, or paste your existing resume profile. Resist the use of overused words like “dynamic”, “creative” and “extensive”, and try to keep industry specific corporate jargon to a minimum.
Your LinkedIn Profile Is A Living Document.
It’s an extension of your professional life and a mouthpiece of your professional identity. Even if it’s pretty it will be mostly useless if it’s disconnected from the world. Get into a habit of reaching out to people and making useful connections.
I remember a few years ago the newspaper Australian Financial Review ran a clever – and very successful – advertising campaign in which it positioned itself as “a daily habit of successful people”.
Those of you who were in Australia at the time will remember this:
I believe that the times have changed and LinkedIn now legitimately holds that title. The question is – what was the last time you logged in and made a mutually beneficial connection with a like-minded professional?