Does your LinkedIn profile suck or does it kick ass?

Thousands of business people – potential investors, employees, customers, and professionals could be getting their first impression of you via your LinkedIn profile. Do you really think it is wise to handle it like an afterthought?

Tons of  people make connections every day on LinkedIn making it a goldmine for networking. Now if only you can get your LinkedIn profile to reflect how awesome you and your company truly are….

Here are 18 smart LinkedIn profile tips that will help you build a professional LinkedIn profile and make connections.

1. Make sure your summary conveys three things

Let’s start this list of LinkedIn profile tips with the summary. Your summary section is one of the most important aspects of your profile. Therefore, it should communicate three things very quickly: Who you are, What you have done, and What you can do.

That sounds pretty basic. However, most users neglect at least one aspect. For example, someone might write,

I’m a web developer who’s worked extensively with JavaScript, Joomla and php, but leaves out the mobile application she coded from scratch. She’s included who she is and what she can do, but not what she’s done.

Or, a global e-commerce manager might put,

Head of Global E-commerce. Merged commerce and brand into unified digital experience,

but he doesn’t add, Specialties: Google Analytics; advanced Excel knowledge; SEO, PPC, image software. He’s written down what he’s done, but not what he can do.

Pull up your LinkedIn summary right now and check to make sure it ticks all three boxes.

2. But Don’t Make Your Summary Too Long

LinkedIn’s cut-off for your summary section is 2,000 characters. While you might be tempted to use each and every one, don’t. Rather, be succinct.

As a basic rule of thumb, it should be between 450 and 650 characters. Any shorter, and you’re not communicating all the vital info; any longer, and you’re rambling or including irrelevant details.

3. Be Warm and Welcoming

When developing a professional LinkedIn profile, the summary section is your prime opportunity to showcase the good stuff about you, with your target audience in mind. Give them a little chance to get to know you.

So what do you think the first impression is going to be if you craft your summary like some long, pompous speech? Or worse, craft it in the third person? They’re going to think you’re pretentious.

And it’s going to be hard for readers to get a feel for your personality and style. Keep the brand message in line with all of your other professional marketing materials, but realize that LinkedIn is a platform designed for interaction.

4. Use Visuals

There’s no one-page rule for LinkedIn, which means you can include all your experience. But people don’t magically have a longer attention span for your profile versus your resume, so if you have a lot to say, you’ll need to find a way to make it visually interesting.

That’s why you should take full advantage of the media add-ons.

Credit: Social Media Examiner

People are drawn to great visuals. Plus, it’s easier to get a sense of what you’ve done. For example, rather than writing, “Launched a new product at a well-attended conference” and leaving it at that, you could include the flyer you put out to promote the event. If you have “Trained 200 company employees in web design” then include a link to the video of the seminar or the PowerPoint you used while giving it.

With all of the options LinkedIn gives you, it really doesn’t matter what career or industry you’re in—you can find a way to incorporate media.

Don’t ignore this particular LinkedIn profile tip.

5. Shorten Your Experience Section

Most users pack five or six bullets under each job position. Don’t be one of them.

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Unless you’ve only had a couple jobs, stick to two or three. Executive positions, on the other hand, merit five or six.

Use short highlights with punchy language and include the job scope and a couple wins for each position.

And remember, you’re appealing to a wide audience here, including potential investors, employees, partners and other professionals, so your wording should reflect that. Don’t pack it so full of jargon that only your (former) boss would have enough context to know what you’re talking about. The more concise your bullets are, the easier it’ll be for any viewer to understand them.

Bonus: To make your profile super-readable, pull up a blank Word document, copy a bullet point, and manually paste those bullet points into your LinkedIn. LinkedIn will keep the formatting.

6. Utilize the Groups Section

This particular LinkedIn profile tip is beginning to show up on a lot of lists. Still, the vast majority of LinkedIn users aren’t taking full advantage of the groups section. Most people join seven or eight, but the site lets you add up to 50.

Groups are awesome for some obvious purposes: networking, staying up-to-date in your industry, building your personal brand and getting more profile views.

But did you know you can also use them to signal a recruiter you’d be a good hire? Let’s say you’re trying to make the switch from fashion/e-commerce logistics manager to clothes manufacturing. You should join at least seven or eight clothes manufacturing-related groups; this will demonstrate you’re serious about, and ready for, the change.

The same goes if you’re staying in your industry. Think of 10 people who are above you, go to their profiles, and join the groups they’re in.

Groups are one of the best ways to make connections on LinkedIn, build influential relationships, engage with potential clients/recruiters, and show off your talent. Once you have established yourself in a group, then it’s allowed to do some self-promotion. You can even start your own LinkedIn group if the niche needs to be filled.

7. Add a Background Picture

It’s 2017 and this is one LinkedIn profile tip that should go without saying. Still…

The more visual your profile is, the better! Everyone should use this feature.

Credit: Social Media Examiner

And you’re not limited to generic shots, either. You can use one of yourself at work, your work desk, your office etc. This personalizes your profile and strengthens your professional brand. It’s just another opportunity to make a profile pop.

Besides photos of yourself at work, you can use this real estate to showcase a current project, promote a work campaign, include a call to action, push people to a link (like your personal site), highlight the awards you’ve won, or include a short testimonial.

8. Use a Professional Headshot

Profile picture etiquette is different on Linkedin than all other social media. You shouldn’t have a picture of your kid or the latest meme. It also isn’t a good idea to use your company logo if you have one, rather use that for your LinkedIn company page.

Use a current picture; bonus points if you are rocking a suit and tie. If you don’t have a solid picture, it’s time to invest in a professional headshot. Consider it one of the investments in your personal brand.

It is worth it.

9. Choose Your Skills Strategically

Maybe you’re a data scientist who’s mastered Java and Python, but you still have a long way to go with programming language R. Is it better to put all three, or should you limit your skills to the ones you’re proudest of or most confident in?

-Questions, questions, questions.

Questions, questions, questions.

Include the skills you want to be known for. For example, if you’re working in media, include the skills that’ll help you grow your career, like writing, audiovisual editing, media planning etc.

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You can also rearrange your skills so the ones you’re proudest of show up first—regardless of how many people have endorsed you for them.

Say you’re in sales, and you’re trying to move into the enterprise software space. If you’re taking an Intro to Enterprise Software course, put “enterprise software” at the top of your Skills (and then ask some of your co-workers who know you’re taking the class to endorse you).

Just click “manage endorsements,” then drag your desired skill(s) to the top.

10. Open your profile settings

Even though this is the default, check to see that your profile’s settings are “Open”. You never know, you may have switched it at one time or the other.

An open profile lets you use the LinkedIn feature “Who’s Viewed Your Profile”. Whoever you view will be informed that you looked at them, and vice versa. Consider this a psychology hack. I don’t know about you, but when a stranger checks my profile, I go look at theirs as well. It’s an instant connection that you otherwise would not have.

11. Request endorsements and recommendations

Ask former employees and current friends to leave thorough endorsements for you. You can easily do this in bulk by applying the following:

Go to “Privacy and Settings”, Click “Manage Your Recommendations”, and then “Ask for Recommendations” near the top of the page. Select a position from the “What do you want to be recommended for?” drop down list.

Credit: Top dog social media

In the “Who do you want to ask?” section, enter names of connections into the text field or click the address book icon to search for connections. Enter your personalized request in the “Create Your Message” section and hit Send.

12. SEO the heck out of your profile

Impart a little SEO magic on your professional LinkedIn profile.

Before anyone can discover your extensive skill set or brilliant ideas, they have to discover you. Look at the title you have on your bio. Does it match the keywords you’re using for your website’s SEO strategy? If you’re not familiar with SEO, are those the words that you would want to be found via Google search? If the answer is no, then it’s time for a title change.

Labeling yourself as something generic like “entrepreneur” or “writer” means you’re competing with every entrepreneur or writer out there. However, if you choose something more specific like “biographical ghostwriter” or “e-commerce entrepreneur and developer,” you’re able to tell LinkedIn users more about yourself. Now they know that you don’t write children’s books and you aren’t an entrepreneur trying to create a new toilet seat.

Repeat certain keywords in your profile experience to give you a better chance of showing up in searches and making connections on LinkedIn.

13. Show off Your Best Work

People spend countless hours scouring LinkedIn in search of the high performers. And when they find them, they contact said high performers.

Display samples of your best work on your profile. If you are a graphic designer, upload media to show off. If you are a content marketer, add links to your best content on other sites. To do that, simply apply the following:

Choose “Edit Profile”, Click “Add Media”, Select “Upload File” for media or “Add Link” for content on another website. Click “Save”, then an update will appear on your profile and others newsfeeds saying you added a media file or link. Click “Delete” on the post if you would like to hide this information.

14. Take the time to customize your LinkedIn URL

LinkedIn assigns each profile a URL with a bunch of seemingly random characters in it. To get a clean URL, simply customize it for your public profile which will help Google bring you up more quickly in a search. Go to “Profile” page and then select “Edit” next to “Public Profile.” Select the URL you want.

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Credit: hot blog tips

15. Post Portfolios and Business Plans in the Bio

Your professional LinkedIn profile is more than a resume. There is so much more you can do!

Adding links and projects in each section. This gives visitors the opportunity to click to your site and check out your work. They might not click on a plain URL, but they’ll click on a cool product image. This is the section to exhibit the quality of your work and what skills differentiate you from the rest. More importantly, this is the section to lure in potential partners with your cohesive business plan.

LinkedIn users in neighboring industries that could potentially work with you can click on these to see what your customers look like and whether they could fit in with their business. This means when you both talk, there won’t be as many introductory questions and you can cut to the chase.

16. Comment Regularly to Show Your Personality

Whenever you comment on an influencer’s article under Pulse, the article and your comment is posted to your timeline. This puts your name and your thoughts in front of all of your connections.

Potential investors and business partners want to see what working with you will be like, and LinkedIn is the modern-day business lunch. Instead of seeing whether you treat the waiter or waitress with respect instead of snapping your fingers and ordering them around, they see if your comments are constructive or rude.

Instead of noticing that you chew with your mouth open, they notice whether you bother to check spelling and grammar. Watching your comments and posts is a quick way for people to decide whether they like you.

17. Strong status updates

Posting constant updates about our lives has become a common part of our culture but as you probably suspect, your LinkedIn updates shouldn’t reflect your political opinions, announce your child’s achievements or comment on the latest reality TV twist. For that reason, many users simply skip status updates altogether. But that’s a mistake too.

When someone finally lands on your profile, your activity section will show your latest status update, if you have one. This is the only dynamically-updated part of your profile that gives others the ability to see what’s on your mind, so get into the habit of updating your status on a regular basis.

Sharing thoughtful, insightful and relevant news that might interest your target visitor just once a day is a great way to keep your professional profile fresh as well as engage with your own network of connections.

18. Include Contact Information

Don’t make it hard for other users to contact you: If they can’t easily get in touch, they might just move on to the next person! Remember, if you’re a third-degree connection or beyond, many people won’t go through the hassle of sending a high-risk introduction or buying an InMail in order to initiate a conversation.

LinkedIn gives you the ability to include your contact details, such as up to three Web sites and a Twitter handle, for anyone to see. There is also an “Advice for Contacting [Name]” section where you could include your e-mail address and/or phone number.

Remember, when it comes to your profile, the opinion that matters most is that of the person who’s looking at it, not your own. Update accordingly.

What other smart LinkedIn profile tips do you have?