This is a guide that you can use to improve your LinkedIn profile. It will increase inbound leads and help you to elevate yourself into a thought leader.
LinkedIn isn’t just for finding new jobs, nor is it only a place to float in a state of passively looking. It’s a platform that can be leveraged to reduce CTA’s, increase brand awareness, and elevate oneself into a thought leader, too.
Employees are the first paid ambassadors of any brand. The employee should want their employer to succeed. And in their capacity leverage any tools that might drive business to their employer. LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, is a tool that has become a premier source of organic impressions and lead generation for those on it. Even those leading sole proprietorships, or personal brands, can leverage LinkedIn.
User profiles on LinkedIn are digital resumes and represent the individual as much as their employer. With a few adjustments, new copy, and strategic backlinks, every profile in a company can improve theirs.
Write an engaging headline
Before anyone lands on your profile, they’ll search for you or see your comment on a post in their timeline. Users will see your name, the level of connection you are to them, and your headline. LinkedIn profile headlines need to be enticing in order to drive profile visits. Let’s consider the process of a user seeing your image, connection level, and headline in their timeline, and then clicking to visit your profile an “open”. You want a strong open rate, and a well-crafted headline will improve yours.
There is room for about 74 characters in a LinkedIn profile headline. Use these wisely to say what you do and who you do it for. There are various recipes to follow when crafting yours. My suggestion is to use the professional verb of your work, the product or service you offer, and a target audience.
For example, my headline is 65 characters long: Creating & curating content that younger generations engage with. If I worked on a running sneaker it might be Making Running On All Lands More Comfortable. If I was at a plant-based meat substitute it might be Making Your Plants Taste Like Meat. The headline says what you do, not just your title, and is to be crafted like the subject line of an email you want people to read.
Here’s what it will look like in search and timeline.
Design a new cover image
Your headline worked, and users are beginning to visit your profile, which increases your open rate. Great job. The first place that the eyes of a LinkedIn profile visitor land is the 1440 x 425 px banner image at the top of your profile. What’s yours look like?
The LinkedIn banner image is a first impression opportunity to reinforce you, your brand, and your business. For best practices, if you are part of a company, ask your marketing or content team to provide you with a branded LinkedIn cover image to use. Ideally, a company will create 4–5 of these and offer them from a menu in a shared google drive for employees to use at will. This way employees can continue to refresh their page, and marketing teams can update the drive with applicable images. If you are not part of a company, open an account on Canva, and design your own cover image.
An example I came across was on the profile of employees at the non-alcoholic beer company Athletic Brewing. It’s sleek, the awards make me believe it’s good, and it tells me what their product is. It’s enough to keep me on the page and scroll down.
Bolster your “About” section
Are you familiar with what bounce rates are?
A bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter a website and then leave rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. On LinkedIn, consider your bounce rate being if profile visitors scroll down and discover all that you do, or if they leave your page.
After landing on your page and seeing your cover image, profile visitors will scroll down past your profile picture, headline, and location, and arrive at your “About” section.
“About” sections are opportunities to be human, or as human as one can be on a screen. It’s tempting to include your full bio here but don’t. Keep it short, you don’t want to overwhelm someone. You want to usher their scroll to what comes next (more on that in a second).
A great example of a brand focused “About” section is that of NOOMA Founder Jarred Smith. It’s shared below with my LinkedIn “About” section.
Feature relevant content
Many simply don’t use the “Featured” content section, and that decision is a major miss. The LinkedIn profile “Featured” section is a free lead generation and backlink machine. It’s the first opportunity to intentionally limit your bounce rate by directing a user to a destination of your choice.
At most, 2.5 pieces of featured content will be visible on your profile. Best practice is to feature a minimum of 4 pieces of content.
As for the types of content, there is flexibility here but I would focus on an article you wrote, videos you’ve produced, links to your website or portfolio, or a piece of content that featured you. This section is an opportunity to elevate yourself in a thought leader and can be used as a digital hype sheet.
Proudly share your experiences
The “Experience” section of a LinkedIn profile is where you share all that you’ve done professionally. Unlike the headline, this is where you include your professional working title as outlined by your employer. Each experience on your profile offers space to include the specifics of your role. Here, include the details of your day, your accomplishments, the success you had, the stack you used, the brands and projects you worked on, or any other part of that experience you are proud of and elevates you.
Do this for each position you have held, and for past experiences include why you moved on from that company. Transparency is great and activates the Law of Candor which will disarm profile visitors (bounce rate decreased!)
Oh! I almost forgot.
When you add an experience and press save, refresh your page to make sure the company icon is populated with the correct image. An empty square is lazy, “Your resume says digital-savvy but you can’t even add a logo?”
Backlink each of your experiences
Remember when you added 4 pieces of content in the “Featured” section and your inbound traffic grew? Well, you can direct traffic from each experience on your LinkedIn profile as well – this is a great way to improve its look.
The magic number, visually, is 2. You can link each piece by clicking the pencil in the upper right-hand section of your experience and scrolling down to the “Media” section where the “Link” button will be.
As to which type of content you should be linking here, my suggestion is that one piece direct traffic to your business’s top performing landing page and that the second piece be the best piece of press your company has gotten.
To know which landing page is your company’s top-performing, ask your marketing team where they’d like you to direct traffic to from your LinkedIn. This may be a specific case study, a video embedded on the website, or a social media channel so that the user’s digital profiles be added to the companies audiences for retargeting campaigns (Yep, digital marketers, each of your employees can funnel thousands of profiles into your audiences).
As for which piece of press, if you don’t know which piece, just ask. But then set up google alerts for your company so you stay in-the-know.
Start using recommendations
I’m not too high on the “Skills & Endorsements” section of a LinkedIn profile. There’s a very low investment of time required to endorse someone and the available categories are often misaligned from the person and their work. I’d rather discover you through your About, Featured, and Experience sections, which I engaged with earlier on my profile visit.
What I do trust are recommendations, and they are a great way to improve your LinkedIn Profile.
The “Recommendations” section is a bit more out of reach. It requires a bit more time and thought, and is underused, so when I come across a profile full of positive ones, a level of competency is communicated immediately.
To get started, think of five co-workers and five people you have a professional relationship with that exist outside your company, and politely ask them to recommend you. You can even kick things off by recommending each of them first! A great habit to build is to recommend people at the completion of the projects you work on together, inside or outside the company. It’s a good look and is a very selfless way to express pubic gratitude and appreciation of another.
Follow your company’s LinkedIn page
Click on the company name listed in your current experience and it will take you to your company’s LinkedIn page. (This is a great way to test that you added your experience correctly). In the bottom left-hand corner of the page’s header will be a button that invites you to Follow, press it.
Add each of your teammates
You’ve managed to improve your LinkedIn profile, and it’s looking good; now it’s time to go show it off. Start by adding all of the members of your company. Click on the company name listed in your current experience and it will take you to your company’s LinkedIn page. In the bottom right-hand corner of the page’s header will be text that reads See all # employees on LinkedIn. Click on that and begin connecting with your teammates.
That didn’t take long right?
Maybe one hour? A really small amount of time to improve your LinkedIn profile.
Now that your profile has been set up as a net to capture the interest of all who visit it, I want to offer a few quick tips for content sharing.
- Slack → open a company-wide #linkedincontent Slack channel dedicated to serving as a menu of content for employees to share on LinkedIn. Include case studies, product launches, product updates, blog posts, podcast episodes, new services, and press.
- Google Alerts → Set up Google alerts for your company and your category to stay in-the-know. The links included can help to automate sharing and be used to populate your company-wide #linkedincontent Slack channel.
- Tags → For every post on LinkedIn, tag your company using the @ function.
- Hashtags → For every post on LinkedIn, use the most relevant 1–2 hashtags. Something to consider is who views the hashtag. For example, if you work in content creation for the consumer packaged goods industry don’t use the #creative or #content hashtags, use #CPG because leaders and followers of the space are following that hashtag.
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