Take your LinkedIn profile from awful to awesome

Your LinkedIn profile is one of the most accessible ways for people to find out about you, which means you need to perfect it

In today’s digital world, your LinkedIn profile has become a vital personal branding tool.  Crafting a great LinkedIn profile gives you an opportunity to capture the attention of decision-makers and to stand out from the crowd.

Here’s how to improve your LinkedIn profile today:

  1. Your LinkedIn headline. Your headline is your personal brand’s tag line. It’s the first — and possibly only — description of you that many people will see, so make it count. To write a great headline, start by asking your friends and colleagues how they would describe you in a headline, including the value you add through your strengths and skills, and what makes you unique. Make a list of these suggestions. For example, “IT support manager and trusted Mac expert” or “Experienced admin assistant who never misses a deadline”. These will provide a useful starting point. Then, make sure you include relevant keywords that your target audience will be searching for (for example, if a hiring manager is looking to fill a finance role, he or she will be using specific keywords like “accounting”, “payroll” or “market analysis”).
  1. Your LinkedIn photo. Make sure you include a photo of yourself, as this boosts the likelihood of people viewing your profile exponentially. Choose wisely. Go with an appealing photo that strikes the right image and professional tone for your industry and niche. Don’t let a bad or inappropriate picture be the reason you miss that million-dollar partnership.
  1. Your LinkedIn summary. A good summary should outline what your professional niche is, while highlighting your unique skills and specialities. Open with a personal positioning statement that lays out who you are, what key skills you provide, and a unique differentiator. Write in first person to engage the reader. Remember, the point of developing a personal brand is to position yourself as an expert in your field. The more you list and, especially, prove your skills, the more credible you become to your target LinkedIn audience.
  1. The experience section. Don’t just outline the roles and responsibilities you’ve held – highlight your key successes by adding quantitative results (for example, “I led a team of 46”, “This intervention saved the company R600 000” or “My team completed the project two months ahead of the deadline”).
  1. The education section. Bolster your professional image by expanding on activities and achievements during your academic career. Career switchers and young professionals should highlight school or university projects and leadership experiences that underscore skills they can transfer from their academic career to their professional career.
  1. Request recommendations from associates, both past and present. When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, this is critical validation of you as a professional. Try to have at least three to five listed from the most influential people in your circle.
  1. In order to make the most of your LinkedIn experience, join groups that are in your niche and interact with the other members. This is the best way for people to get to know you.
  1. Extra tips. Customise your public profile link with your name (for example: linkedin.com/in/JoeSoap instead of za.linkedin.com/pub/JoeSoap/9/684/50a/). Make sure your profile is 100% complete – this adds credibility. Incorporate key words related to your personal brand wherever possible, which enhances your visibility. Remember to add skills that are relevant to your industry.