Like many LinkedIn users, you may have quickly written your LinkedIn profile a few years ago, but have not revisited or updated it. While many experts advise on how to write a great profile, I have not seen any statistics or audits on the actual quality and depth of a typical member’s LinkedIn profile. So I did a mini-audit of 111 of my connections (excluding any former clients). I assigned each profile to one of five broad categories:
- Incomplete – those missing a major piece of the member’s background or current experience, or not having a profile photo, which fortunately or unfortunately is needed to be a social media player in 2018.
- Basic – These contain the fundamentals of the work experience and education, but little else.
- Basic Plus – These usually have descriptions of the member’s work experience, with perhaps a Summary and hint at what the person is like as a colleague.
- Short & Snappy – These profiles have a catchy professional headline and begin to fulfill the LinkedIn best practice of creating a profile that is both professional and personal. The summary and work experience descriptions are very brief, either because the writer had limited time to spend or feels brevity works best in today’s busy world.
- The Story - These profiles reflect all LinkedIn best practices, including a strong professional headline, summary and experience descriptions. The member has even filled out their “story” with volunteer work, articles, awards, certifications and more.
Based on the 111 profiles examined, the LinkedIn community may be a little savvier than I had previously thought.
My research pinpoints some frequently made errors are keeping many people at the “basic” end of the spectrum. Even for those who had some form a “story,” I easily found ways to make most profiles better. Here are just five:
- Understand the Reader Experience – Many profile writers assume that their profiles are read from beginning to end. A logical assumption, but wrong in today’s LinkedIn world. First, 60-70% of views on LinkedIn are on a phone or tablet, which can easily result in skimming/skipping. Second, LinkedIn requires the reader to click on “read more” to see most of the summary or current experience write-up. In light of these constraints, you must make your headlines and lead-ins catchy, so that the reader gets the key message and is motivated to read on.
- Fill in your Work Experience and Make the Progression Clear – Many people write a full summary, but leave their experience section blank. Given that some will skip most or your entire summary, this is a mistake. Make sure your experience section can stand on its own in case the reader skips the summary. In addition, include volunteer and organization experience on your profile, but in the relevant section. I believe that mixing in volunteer work with work experience muddies your story.
- Create an Impactful Banner for your Profile
Most people have not utilized the space at the top of their profile behind the profile photo. Some have a template image like the Manhattan skyline. In today’s visual world, having an effective image boosts your overall brand. However, creating an image that works well in both LinkedIn’s desktop and phone environment is a challenge. Sometimes images from your website can be resized and used effectively on LinkedIn. I had two mediocre banners created through Fiverr freelancers before engaging Jackie Kincaid, who did an excellent job on my current banner.
- Make the Writing Consistent Throughout
Some people use their bio word for word as their LinkedIn summary. But then they use a very informal style in the experience section. Thinking social media is informal; others do not proofread or use lower case for proper nouns. Generally, best practice calls for use of personal pronouns within LinkedIn profiles, though I have written third-person profiles for recruiters and job seekers.
- Make It Personal
Many people have good profile content, but miss the opportunity LinkedIn provides to connect with the reader by making their summary more personal than a standard bio. A LinkedIn profile should be “professionally personal;” the writer should give insight into their career path and work style.
If you are skeptical about spending time on your LinkedIn profile, just search your name on Google. Your LinkedIn profile will appear near the top, perhaps at the very top, even higher than your website bio. Your LinkedIn profile is free advertising, so make the most of it!
Bruce K. Segall has 25 years of experience in large financial services companies and smaller firms before founding Marketing Sense for Business, LLC in 2010. Bruce works with small to mid-size firms and companies to build visibility, deepen relationships and grow their lead base. In this capacity, he has worked with scores of attorneys and other professionals to enhance their LinkedIn presence. He has been active in the LMA since 2013, currently overseeing SIG activity in the New York area as a member of the New York Local Steering Committee.