Getting the fundamentals right on your LinkedIn profile

Whether you realise (or are even willing to admit) it, you’re selling something. Everyone sells.

One of the most tangible pieces of you selling something important – yourself – is your CV.

At work, at it’s highest level, you’re selling a service or product for your company. But even when you don’t work in sales, you’re selling something. You’re selling an idea, concept or mission that you want others to buy into and believe.

One of the most tangible pieces of you selling something important – yourself – is your CV. In today’s connected world, this is your LinkedIn profile.

Employers everywhere check not only your LinkedIn profile but your social profiles, like Facebook and Twitter, to get a better picture of who you are against who you claim to be. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to argue that the manner in which you maintain your profile and how you choose to describe yourself will affect the kind of conclusions drawn about you.

Here are some simple, easy -to-do tips you should look at to make sure you’ve got the baseline stuff covered.

1.Get on LinkedIn

Here are some compelling stats :

  • a professional network on the Internet with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories;
  • professionals are signing up to join at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  • more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn- their fastest-growing demographic.

If you don’t move forward, are you slipping behind?

If you’re not on LinkedIn, at a time when others are, what does that tell a prospective employer about you? Also, how are they expected to find you? You’re doing yourself a complete disservice.

Move with the times.

2. Get the right photo

Notice that I don’t say you should have a photo because that, to me, is a given. People are visual creatures and that is the first thing people look at when they’re checking out a profile. So, it raises questions when a person creates a profile yet is not willing to put a photo up.

I say get the right photo because surprisingly, there are still many who post strikingly wierd, funny, unflattering photos of themselves online. This is the platform you are using to say something of yourself. You are in charge of what is said, how it’s said and the manner in which it is displayed.

Take control and put your best face forward. Make an effort.

Tips – Please avoid these sorts of pics

  • you at a party with disco lights in the background;
  • you holding your cute dog ;
  • you holding a beer!;
  • you in all your Identity Card/Passport insipid photo glory;
  • you in a landscape shot where we can’t make out your features because you are too far away in the distance;
  • selfie – come on!

3.  Clean your profile URL and spread the word

Your profile will come with a profile URL. Clean it up, own it and share this. Put it on your business card, include it on your socials and put it on your email signature.

4. Join a few LinkedIn groups

Joining a few groups, strategically, will inform prospective employers  (or those who might want to do business with you) about your interests cross referenced against your professional background and experience.

There’s a limit of 50 groups you can join at any one time. Work on the assumption that you will reassess the groups you’ve joined to see whether you’ve gotten value from it, and if it still works for you. If not, leave said group. If you hit the max, you will need to leave a group in order to join any new one.

5. Reach out and make a few connections

Nothing worse than finally getting onto LinkedIn than to be seen to have 3 connections!

Start with your existing network of  colleagues, supplier relationships, partners etc. Reach out to ex-colleagues and those who you might have worked closely with in past roles. Reach out to new people you want to be connected to.

I’ve cold-contacted people who are in my industry and many accept my connection. It does not work every time but you make the effort to see what happens.

Tip : personalise the Invite to Connect message. Make it worth their while. Give them a reason to do so. Just hitting the “connect” button which will automatically send a generic invite to connect increases the chances of a bad response. A bad response here could be one of two things : silence or them reporting “I dont know you” in which case, enough such responses will get your account blocked eventually.

6. Write up a strong Positioning statement/Summary

This is one of the most important sections in your profile and sets the tone.

It’s also the section where you have the chance to display your creativity and mettle. Keep in mind when writing this, that it is not so much who you are and what you can do but why people should get to know you and what you’re about. Give them a reason to.

Talk about yourself boldly, in the present tense and be focused on only 1 -2 things you want to drive the reader’s attention to. Leave out the typical descriptions (I am an ambitious go-getter, a people person who works hard and is productive…..) that mean nothing to others and which will only make them click away.

7. Create a bold, strong and clear headline

The area just below your name is the headline. It can, by default, be used to display your current occupation but you could easily change this – and –  you should. It should sum up who you are and what you’re about without the specifics of a job title.

Tip 1 – I’m not a big fan of people using this space to mention that they’re looking for new opportunities. Pssst – they don’t care. This activity is very you-centred and an effective profile should be reader-centred.

Secondly, you should make it easy for people to pass you a lead or tell you about a job. If you are looking for opportunities, make it easy for people to discover who you are, what you do and the kind of role you’re after. You weren’t expecting them to trawl through all of your profile and come to the conclusion about that, were you? You can always mention what you’re looking for, in the section at the end.

Tip 2 – This is the space where you can display the most creativity in selling yourself. It’s also the place readers focus on. Ask yourself whether what you put up here does yourself justice.

8. Images bring your profile to life

The use of images throughout your profile will help you immensely. It makes it attractive and creates the stickiness so that the reader stays on the page.

  • A good background image – high resolution – is a must. Those who have written books or spoken at high profile events, tend to use these elements to their advantage. But if you havent (yet) published a book or spoken at some high profile event, this can be a space for you to speak about your passion by putting up a quote with good supporting graphics. It could be about supporting your company by including the company logo (if you want to go there), it could be a push to your blog, twitter feed or instagram account. Whatever you do, personalise this space because visuals matter.
  • I’ve spoken about the need for a good profile photo.
  • Slides you’ve used to present at talks or conferences can be great pieces of content to showcase your talent. Other materials could be articles or blog posts you’ve written, books you’ve contributed chapters to or if you work in a design capacity, this could be a space to showcase some of your portfolio.

9. Complete your profile

As much as you can, complete your profile, fleshing out your work experiences (with date ranges), projects or assignments you were involved in, volunteer activities you take part in as well as languages and skillsets. I don’t think it’s always necessary to include every single job you’ve had. Just list what you think is a good fit with how you’ve positioned yourself as well as what you believe will add an interesting (and complementary) element to a strong profile.

10. Bonus : Write at least one Pulse post

If you can, writing a Pulse post can be quite advantageous to position you in a stronger light. It showcases your communication skills, gives the impression of someone dynamic and proactive and lastly, is an opportunity, yet again, to showcase your abilities and skills, in a creative way through the use of prose and supporting imagery.

If you need to get someone to give it a once over to check for overall structure and grammar, do that because it will be worth it. Surprisingly, I have seen quite a few posts that were not subject to such rigour. In that form, they do far more damage than imagined. Bad news? You don’t even know it.

11. Focus on the reader, not on you

It bears repeating because what the mind can understand may not translate well, in any event, into corresponding action.

Think about…

…what they might be asking about who you are (based on what they read);
… what conclusions they may come to (based on what’s presented);
… what you’d like to tell them vs what they are likely to want to hear.

So, one area that can be worked on is your work experience. Your focus should be less on your responsibilities and more on what you’ve achieved.

12. Add your contact info

There are two sections where your contact details are displayed:

  • towards the bottom of your profile, after work history and education etc, there will be a section displayed “Advice for Contacting Rowena”. This is a space where you can add your contact details clearly; and
  • just below the top section of your profile, below your headline and photo. It is on the right side column marked “Contact Info”.

Before you’re connected with someone, you are not able to see their contact information in the top section. Once you’ve connected, this information is then accessible. However, the info you share at the bottom of your profile, will be displayed to all who view your profile, thus providing contact details to those who may not necessarily want to request a connection.

You put yourself on this network to be discovered.Therefore, one of the most critical things to do is to provide clear contact details so that those who wish to contact you can do so. You achieve this by adding your contact details at the bottom. How much detail you share (whether it’s a phone number, skype ID or email) is up to you.

13. Provide regular status updates

With millions on this network, you’re lost and chances of being found are well, slim. But chances of being found by the people you want to find you can be increased with a little forethought and regular action.

A status update is far less time consuming that a full blown post and so, for non-bloggers, presents an opportunity to connect, to reach out, to make a dent in someone else’s life. As a professional network, you want to be clear about the sort of posts/updates you put here. A good place to start is to post stuff you find that is of value and that you believe others will find useful eg current news or interesting articles.

Bonus – don’t just share it, add your two cents to it. It brings the post to life, it shows people you’re not just aimlessly clicking and sharing (anyone can do that) and it showcases (and over time, cements) your expertise in given field.

14. Update your email

You need to have an email associated with your account. It is how LinkedIn contacts you about account-related issues and its also the email you get sent messages if you turn the notifications on.

Make a conscious decision about which email to use. Your choice of email indicates the era you’re born in (hello Hotmail users!). If you choose to use a work email, then you need to remember to update that email when you switch jobs or risk losing emails until you realise that mistake – which could be costly.

If you use a personal email, try to make it as professional as you can. After all, you are sharing this with others on a professional network. Email me at It’s easy enough and free to get a new one done.

Granted, some of these tips will take time to get into the groove on. But if you could start out on LinkedIn strong, this will help you create the impact you’re looking to make.

#branding #linkedIn #profile

So there you go, not an exhaustive list but a damn good start. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments, as I too want to learn from you.

I run the VerticalDistinct platform to support both Human Resource and Technology professionals. I blog on the entrepreneurial journey. I also write for Women of HR and post on LinkedIn. Let’s connect, let’s learn from each other. Let me know how I can support you.


About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

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