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Love it or hate it, there is no denying that LinkedIn is a big part of building your online platform — especially as an entrepreneur. In fact, the social media network now boasts over 744 million members, with over 57 million companies listed on the site.
Depending on your needs, a quality LinkedIn profile can help you grow your business connections and personal brand, find new potential customers for your B2B services or connect with new talent to grow your team.
Unfortunately, your LinkedIn profile can keep you from maximizing these opportunities. By making a few simple fixes, you can ensure your profile helps your growth efforts, rather than hinders them.
1. Update your photos
We’ve all heard the cliche “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s true of your LinkedIn profile too. A recent, professional-looking picture sets the right tone for your profile. For the profile picture, content marketer Lydia Abbot recommends using a high-resolution image where your face takes up 60 percent of the frame. Use soft, natural lighting in front of a non-distracting background. Wear what you would wear to work, and don’t forget to smile!
Your background photo can also help your profile stand out by providing context about who you are and what matters to you. Consider an image that highlights your personal brand or what you do for work.
2. Write a unique headline
Every LinkedIn profile features a headline — but most people are content to let LinkedIn set their headline to the default setting (which simply lists your current position and/or company).
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, the fact that you can customize your headline should tell you everything you need to know. Since this is one of the first things people see when they see your profile or search for you, don’t be afraid to make it unique. Your headline can give connections a glimpse into what you value most about your job or company, helping you stand out from the “same-old” headlines that simply list a title.
3. Ask for recommendations
LinkedIn’s recommendations and endorsements systems are some of the easiest ways to build social proof. But these valuable additions to your profile generally aren’t going to appear out of the blue. If you want to get quality recommendations, you have to ask.
Not everyone you ask to write a recommendation is going to take the time to do so. But it only takes a few minutes to send out the request to people you’ve worked with in the past.
These public testimonials offer a chance for others to share what makes you great to work with. Don’t be afraid to offer a recommendation in return, especially for someone whose words could deliver the greatest value as a testimonial.
Endorsements can also be valuable, but they should be curated more carefully. If you’re not careful, endorsements could skew others’ perception of what is your main area of expertise. In addition to giving genuine endorsements to others in your network to get them to return the favor, edit your profile’s Skills section to prioritize which endorsements are shown or hidden.
4. Start providing value to your network
Your business produces a lot of content — and most likely, much of that content will have value for people in your network. Sharing case studies and other brand content gets you to show up in the news feeds of those in your network.
Don’t be afraid to share content from others that you find interesting or insightful. When you consistently share content that provides value and starts a discussion, you can also help strengthen your personal brand.
Of course, this sharing can be even more valuable when you are writing original content. While this will obviously take more than five minutes to complete, this is a great opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche and start conversations. The more you publish, the more top-of-mind you’ll be among others in your network.
5. Write a jargon-free summary
Your summary — or the “About” section, as LinkedIn likes to call it these days — shouldn’t read like a boring list of past jobs and achievements. Rewriting your LinkedIn summary so that it flows more like a story helps bring your skills to life. It shows why your experiences have made you into the person you are today. It gives connections a better opportunity to understand who you are, what motivates you, and what you hope to accomplish.
When making this update, avoid the temptation to litter your LinkedIn summary with meaningless jargon and buzzwords. You’ve seen these words and phrases countless times — passionate, innovative, leadership, results-driven — the list goes on and on.
Part of the reason why we’re so sick of seeing these terms is because they don’t really tell us anything. Avoiding overused buzzwords will help your summary be more engaging and unique by encouraging you to provide more specific details.
Unleash your LinkedIn profile’s potential
As with any other social network, LinkedIn requires ongoing attention, especially if you want to use it to grow your personal brand. Polishing your profile ensures that you’ll make a better first impression with those you connect with, regardless of why you’re trying to connect with them in the first place. Taking a few extra minutes to spruce up your profile now will pay big dividends later on.