5 Ways to Let Your Personal Brand Shine on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

I think it’s common knowledge that certain social platforms have a personal feel to them (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). For years, poor LinkedIn has been relegated to a stiff, business-before-pleasure status — the common description being “your online resume” – certainly nothing fun about that.

But that old thinking needs to shift. While it’s true that LinkedIn is in many instances your 21st century business card, there is still a way to stand out from the rest and let your personal brand come through, while still maintaining a professional feel.

First impressions

It should be no surprise that you and your firm are searched for online by prospects. People feel more comfortable reaching out to someone they know something about – and how do you get to know someone you’ve never met? You Google them! And when you do, their LinkedIn profile is usually within the top 5 search results.

So, what would their first impression of you be?

Let’s start at the top (of your LinkedIn Profile page)

1. Your profile picture.LinkedIn

This picture should be:

  • Of you (don’t use your firm’s logo)
  • Professional (not your wedding picture)
  • You, solo (not a group photo of your firm; save that for Facebook or your business LinkedIn page)
  • Crisp, clear and in focus
  • You, wearing what you would wear for a prospect or client meeting, unless of course you focus on a particular creative client niche (i.e., artists, musicians, actors) that lends itself to a little more “out of the box” profile
  • One that has your face making up 70-80% of the picture
  • You facing forward and “making eye contact”

2. Your background image. Critical to have? No. Easy to do? Yes. Return on investment to adding it? Definitely. Maybe it’s an image of your place of business. Maybe it’s a creative use of your firm logo. There are also a number of free sites where you can get quality imagery to use in your background (https://linkedinbackground.com/, StockSnap.io).

Some tips to use for your backgrohttp://www.stocksnap.io/und image to help you stand out in a large sea of profiles:

  • Make it eye catching
  • Make it pertinent to you and your target clients
  • Make sure it doesn’t clash or conflict with your profile picture. It should enhance it, not fight with it.

LinkedIn

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3. Your headline. This area populates with the current job title from your Experience section. Did you know you can change it to include keywords? You have a mere 120 characters to showcase your skills and/or specialties, so use words that describe what you do that makes you (and your firm) unique. What words would people use to find you (what’s your niche)? What’s something interesting that would make people want to know more?

You can also use separators (symbols, | , > , etc.) with spaces on either side to help with searches.

LinkedIn

4. Your summary. (aka your elevator speech, and then some). Use this space wisely. You have 2,000 characters here, but only the first 215 are visible on desktops (92 characters on mobile) before someone has to click “See more” – so make the most out of those first words. Your Experience section is designed to let people know what you do and what you’ve done. Your summary’s role is to tell people who you are.

Use the first 215 characters as your elevator speech. Use the remaining characters as your personal brand commercial. A personalized summary allows potential clients to know who they will be meeting with. Include accomplishments, passions, qualifications and any information that would help a prospect really get to know you – tell your story.

Don’t forget to add your contact information: phone number, email address, website URL. Make it easy for people to find you and contact you outside of LinkedIn.

5. Your LinkedIn URL. Have you customized yours? If you have, is it on your business cards, your company LinkedIn page, your website, or your other social profiles? You want to make it easy for people to find you.

Here’s how to customize it: Click “View your public profile” in the upper right corner of your profile page, and then click “Edit your public profile” (also in the upper right corner of the public profile view), then click on the pencil in “Edit public profile URL.”

LinkedIn LinkedIn

Now get active

Sure, your profile is going to make a good first impression (once you’ve done a little tweaking), but first impressions are not nearly as important as first interactions. If someone asks to connect with you on LinkedIn, follow up with a message, asking them how you can be of service. Join groups that relate to your target niche and your peers and be active in discussions so more people see and hear from you. Share thought leadership and industry articles.

I’m not talking about putting hours of work into LinkedIn – more like10-15 minutes a week. It’s probably exponentially more than you are spending on LinkedIn now, but that small commitment can make a huge difference.

Be a resource, not just another face in the crowd, and your personal brand will flourish.

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Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and social media manager within the SEI Advisor Network.

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