Do you have a bare-bones LinkedIn Profile – but you’re not sure how to make it stronger?
Nearly every executive I speak with laments the lack of time and ideas for creating an engaging, interesting LinkedIn presence reflecting their personal brand.
Yet, all it takes is a quick glance at your Profile, changing it section by section, until you’re happy with the final result.
Try these strategies for building a strong, relevant portrait of your executive competencies on LinkedIn:
1 – Tune your LinkedIn Headline for the right executive role.
Don’t settle for LinkedIn’s default (your current job title). Instead, provide a keyword-rich descriptor that positions you for the role you hold now, plus a step up in the future.
As an example, Senior Vice President Sales at ABC Manufacturing implies strong team management and closing skills, but SVP Sales & Revenue Officer, Top Team Results & New Consultative Processes Distinguishing Manufacturing Firms tells a more complete story.
Out of ideas for your Headline? Start with your career level (CIO, Sales Manager, Director of IT, etc.), then add key skills, such as IT Roadmaps or Product Strategy. Make reference to a result, such as New Technology Platforms or Revenue Growth.
Read A Fast Formula for a Powerful LinkedIn Headline for more ideas. And last of all, keep the Headline to 120 characters or less – and road test it by asking trusted contacts for feedback.
2 – Participate (appropriately) in LinkedIn’s News Feed discussions.
This may seem to be an unusual step in personal branding – but LinkedIn will feature your Profile more often in search results if you are engaging other users in discussions.
Take a look at the posts and comments scrolling by in your home page on LinkedIn, and consider joining in the discussion. By doing so, you’re telling LinkedIn that you value professional discourse, and it will show your Profile (and News Feed activity) more prominently.
To maintain a leadership brand image, be sure to keep your discussion activity strictly professional, maintaining the same tone and focus you’d use in an interview. These activities stay on your Profile for months and are visible to employers! Stick to non-volatile topics related to your industry, such as the pros and cons of new technology or the ramifications of international expansion.
3 – Write an engaging LinkedIn Summary.
Your LinkedIn Summary is one of the best places to reflect a strong executive brand message; yet, many rising leaders leave it blank or worse yet, write it in third-person (much like a boring, overly formal biography).
Rather than ignoring this crucial LinkedIn section, consider using a conversational tone, much like you would when interviewing, to tell your story. Interject keywords and job titles that show your stature, as this allows you to imply that you might be open to a new opportunity (rather than giving away your intentions).
As an example, your Summary might open with:
* Senior Operations Executive *
Manufacturing & Retail Industries
As a COO and VP of Operations, my work is relevant to the efficiency and daily functioning of 7 manufacturing plants across Americas, Europe, and Asia. By increasing our productivity and maintaining a tight culture of safety, I’m able to maintain peak production (5 years and counting), while looking out for the best interests of our manufacturing teams.
Note how this Summary uses first-person language to build rapport with the reader, pulling in a strong suite of keywords (Manufacturing, Operations, Retail, Productivity, Production, Safety, etc.) and describing this executive’s ROI at the current employer.
4 – Quit ignoring LinkedIn’s Skills section.
Learn to play LinkedIn’s Skills section as a key part of the online identity game. A notable factor in your traffic, this list of competencies can draw employer eyeballs to your Profile when populated with desirable skills and endorsements from your network.
Here’s how it works: you specify skills related to your field, such as Data Center Strategy, Marketing, Lead Generation, or Operations in this section. Other users endorse you for these skills (which typically happens when they visit your Profile, receive prompts from LinkedIn to do so, or receive Endorsements from you).
LinkedIn then recognizes the value of these terms as key areas of your expertise, and starts to feature you more often in searches for these keywords. It’s as simple as that.
5 – Provide a corner office-worthy LinkedIn Photo.
Did you skip out on providing a photo on LinkedIn, telling yourself you’d take care of it later? You could be missing out on solid connections with recruiters and employers, who often avoid reaching out to LinkedIn users without a headshot.
If you’re not sure what type of photo to provide, take a look around at professionals and executives in similar roles. Are they wearing a traditional, conservative suit and tie, or using a headshot from a more relaxed setting? You can gain clues from looking at what others use in your field.
In addition, the old advice about dressing for the job you want holds true here. If you’re ultimately aiming for a CEO role, start to look the part (even if you’re still a Director). Colorful attire is a good idea if it reflects your personality and industry, particularly in a creative field that requires a bold presence.
Insider tip: ask real estate agents for the name a good headshot photographer, who will produce a variety of shots.
Test them out by watching the reactions to your newly enhanced LinkedIn presence.