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LinkedIn Profile Do’s and Don’ts

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There is an epidemic that is taking over. It’s unprofessional, it’s awkward and it’s painfully lacking self-awareness. Yes, of course we’re talking about the poorly optimized LinkedIn profile, or as we like to call it, the place where all common sense and promising business opportunities go to die. 

It’s been a slow creep, but it has infiltrated our feeds nonetheless. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be the realization that LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram, and should be approached differently. One more time with feeling, LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram. 

We’re not debating that each can be used for business, but would you talk to your three-year-old niece with a mild unicorn obsession about the same worldly issues that dominate your circle at happy hour?

Whether you’re simply missing opportunities or completely missing the mark, there’s always room for improvement. Here are the top do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn profile optimization. 

DON’T…

  1. Choose an inappropriate profile photo. You would think this one would be most obvious on a business networking platform, but we encounter cringe-worthy photos regularly. Here are some general tips to guide you when selecting your photo:
    1. Opt for a photo of just you. Even if you just had engagement photos done and you look fantastic in them. And even though your kids are adorable, they should not be the floating heads associated with your profile.  
    2. Under no circumstances should you use a duck lips selfie while throwing up a peace sign. Or any kind of selfie for that matter.
    3. Wear suitable clothing. Even if they’re tasteful and artistic, this is not the medium for shirtless flexing or cleavage. 
  2. Use epic, made-up titles to stand out. It may come off as just a bit desperate or like you’re trying too hard. There was only one McGyver, there isn’t a “guru” certification and we’re pretty sure real-life ninjas don’t even use LinkedIn. If any of these titles are ever associated with your name, they should be said from the lips of someone else. Never your own. 
  3. Be too verbose. While this one applies in many areas of life, it’s particularly true here. If you say all the things, no one will hear any of them. Make each character count and don’t make people work too hard to get to the meat and potatoes of who you are and what you bring to the table. 
  4. Overuse adjectives. Much like getting too wordy, the temptation to thoroughly paint a vivid, lively, realistic, demonstrative and strategic picture can water down your message (see what we did there?). 
  5. Be siloed in your activity. The activity section of your profile will show everything, that you have produced or engaged with on the platform. Strike a delicate balance here; LinkedIn works best when you work it, but if you’re only engaging with the same article, topic or canned response over and over, your activity will rat you out. 
  6. Bury the good stuff. While it seems intuitive to go for the gold in listing your credentials in the Accomplishments section, be mindful that it’s close to the bottom and many people don’t scroll that far down. If there is something that you’re proud of and want to lead with, include it in your About or Experience sections. 

DO…

  1. Be your own brand ambassador. Unless you’re a giant of a company, your individual employee profiles are more valuable to a brand than your company page itself. While a company page is necessary and a useful vehicle for sharing new product launches, company announcements, etc., they aren’t the best way to connect. Encourage and equip employees to be individual brand ambassadors with these tips:
    1. Like company posts whenever possible.   
    2. As appropriate, engage with company post CTAs such as commenting, etc.
    3. Share company posts to your personal feed, with additional commentary from your unique perspective, as appropriate.
    4. Continue actively growing your own professional networks, taking advantage of relevant connection opportunities.
    5. When you accept new connection requests or someone else accepts your connection request, send them a follow-up message. You can draft a few fill-in-the-blank responses for different circumstances and have them ready to go to make the process quick and sustainable. As appropriate to the circumstances, include a mention of a resource or service for them to find more information about your business.
    6. Consider using your expertise to publish a LinkedIn article on a topic in your wheelhouse. As appropriate, it can then be shared on the company’s page.  
  2. Maximize your headline. While you get 120 characters, the first 18 are the most important. Your headline, or the portion directly under your name, is crucial and should ultimately convey who you help, what you do and who you do it for. Use appropriate and professional abbreviations or shorthand where you can, such as & instead of and, or use a clean line character such as | to create a visual break. If a word doesn’t directly add value, don’t include it. 
  3. Set your profile picture to public. Some of us are visual learners and won’t remember a name, but will be prompted by an image. To make your profile picture public beyond your own network, click on the edit pencil in the header portion, then again on the edit pencil by the profile picture and click “Visibility.”
  4. Provide an actionable About section. Think of this text as your elevator pitch. You have three lines before LinkedIn cuts you off and requires a user to “expand” the view, so prioritize the most important information at the front. In total, you get 200 words for this section; use as many relevant, non-forced industry words as you can. This is a great place to feature media you’re associated with, such as an article you wrote, a company page, etc. 
  5. Take content beyond a traditional resume. If LinkedIn is just your digital resume, you’re missing opportunities. Use the real estate given to share your professional experience in a more lively way than a comprehensive CV.

    Wrap It Up

    To set yourself up for LinkedIn success, think of it as your personal brand, an extension of your company’s brand and something worthy of your investment. Relationships take time to cultivate, and you can’t start a relationship without making a connection. And you can’t make a connection if you’re too one-sided or, alternatively, ghosting everyone. 

    Need a hand crafting an actionable social media strategy that will move the needle? Let’s make a connection

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