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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.
(By the way, if you want to have an even better LinkedIn profile while saving yourself a great deal of time, consider using my LinkedIn profile writing service).
1. Show And Tell.
Here’s a secret most recruiters won’t tell you: if your LinkedIn summary describes you as a ‘highly motivated leader with extensive experience and a passionate, results-driven approach,’ you’re pretty much asking for an eye-roll.
Recruiters can see straight through overused buzzwords and hollow, self-appointed titles.
Simply stating how great you are does nothing to demonstrate the depth of experience and personal insight recruiters look for when hiring for the best roles.
Take a page from your pre-school days and embrace the ‘show and tell.’
Start by weaving quantitative and qualitative achievements throughout your profile summary, demonstrating the qualities and experiences that are most valued in your industry or function.
If you find yourself struggling to come up with a list of achievements, remember that not all achievements have to be backed by numbers.
“Selected among peers for a competitive secondment leading Program Y.”
Is just as telling as:
“Achieved 110% to target in FY14.”
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 are the solution to the set of commercial challenges that this person is experiencing.
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.
(By the way, to further improve your LinkedIn profile, check out my library of LinkedIn guides here).
3. Get 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 meditative 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?
4. Be Relatable And Human.
Face it: nobody wants to work with an automaton; even those really cool Japanese robots are more ‘strange curiosity’ than a viable customer service solution.
This is why I’m always so confounded by (the vast majority of) LinkedIn profile summaries that are beige, vanilla, and boring.
In my experience, people get so caught up in sounding professional, they shoot themselves in the foot by making themselves indistinguishable from everyone else. Not exactly a positive quality in a highly competitive job market.
So how do you set yourself apart as likeable, competent and professional without also inducing a strong urge for an afternoon nap?
The key is to weave a story throughout your LinkedIn summary.
When I work with clients to create a LinkedIn profile that reflects their personality and brand, my consultations approach almost Braveheart lengths: I spend a massive amount of time digging into a client’s personality, drivers, strengths, problem-solving style, accomplishments, USP .. the list goes on.
I want to know if my client has wanted to work in marketing since she was 12, if he became an accountant because he finds the innate precision of numbers satisfying, or what makes her leap out of bed in the morning.
Those are the personality gems I weave throughout profiles: stories from someone’s life and experience that offer insight into who they are and what they’re like to work with.
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 business brief, letter or your professional 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.
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?