If you are taking the steps toward building a powerful executive LinkedIn profile, or you want to optimize your existing LinkedIn profile, here are important things to keep in mind.
An executive LinkedIn profile that is optimized can make all the difference to you on this leading professional networking site. It is critical you are putting forth the best first impression by following these executive LinkedIn profile branding tips.
Your branded executive LinkedIn profile will help position your promise of value to your target employers, advance your thought leadership, and expand your brand community.
To optimize your LinkedIn profile means first creating your profile, then making alterations based on your goals, testing what works and what doesn’t work, and consistently making tweaks as you change your career or business goals.
So before you create your executive LinkedIn profile, ask yourself, “What do I want to be found for?” The answer to this question is critical to your success on LinkedIn.
Write a Searchable Executive LinkedIn Profile Headline
First off, you want to pay special attention to all the information that will be viewable first to your audience when they come across your profile. That means anything that is on the screen when they open your profile. What they see first can make a huge difference to your getting noticed and considered.
Your professional headline or tagline is incredibly important to executive branding and making you stand out. By default, your headline will consist of your current or latest job title and company. You can edit your headline to reflect how you wish to position yourself.
Fill it with keywords that your target audience will be looking for. You are allowed 120 characters, so use them. Your headline goes with you everywhere on LinkedIn, giving viewers a brief snapshot of your profile, so make sure that it packs a punch.
Take advantage of what you can accomplish in this space to immediately capture your audience’s attention and promote your unique selling point. Here are a couple examples:
Consultant – thought leader and driver of organizational change for fortune 500 companies
President-Founder and creative head of industry-leading marketing firm, NextGenMarketing
CFO – Financial wizard and analytics superhero for TooBig Boxes.
On a similar note, pay special attention to your grammar and spelling in your profile, as nothing looks more unprofessional than these types of errors.
Optimize Your Professional Summary Section
The profile summary gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your audience, much like your cover letter, so take full advantage of it.
Highlight your story in the summary profile – include strengths, passions, career highlights and breadth and depth of experience in various professional capacities or domains. The character restriction is 2000 so you are not too restricted. Keep it brief with lots of white space to ensure it’s easy to read.
To catch the reader’s attention, pen it in the first person. Let your personality shine. Avoid cliches and definitely make sure to include numbers and results. You could also mention in a couple of sentences, how/why you chose to become an executive or made a transition to your field. However, make sure it is not too lengthy – ideally, limit it to about 3-5 short paragraphs.
Use Executive Keywords
Remember that you’ll rank higher in searches when people conduct LinkedIn people searches if you sprinkle select keywords and phrases that are relevant to your job target and industry throughout your profile.
At the same time, make sure not to litter your profile with the same keywords, as human eyes are also going to be looking at your profile. Your main goal is to write a compelling and interesting profile that also contains a few important keywords.
Including the kind of words that you anticipate other people will search for is an excellent way to improve your search engine optimization (SEO), which will drive potential new contacts to your profile. Think about what your readers would be typing in to find you, and include that language to help them make the connection.
The types of keywords you include in your profile will depend on what industry you are targeting; however, here is a list of potential executive keywords for your profile:
- Strategic Planning
- P&L, Profit & Loss Responsibility
- Revenue & Profit Growth
- Return on Investment (ROI)
- Change Management
- Account Management
- Budgeting & Finance
- Performance Improvement
Don’t Forget to Include a Professional Picture
You may not want everybody to see your picture on the internet, but the truth is that your photo can help make your profile look more authentic and professional. Make sure that your photo is about 200 x 200 pixels so that it is clear and looks sharp.
In a professional LinkedIn profile picture, your face will take up about 60% of the image, your facial expression is vital – make it warm, friendly and professional to show that you are capable, confident, and approachable.
Wear what you would wear to work and have a background that doesn’t distract from your face. The background should be as plain as possible. For an executive like yourself, a professional suit works best for both men and women. Solid colors also work better in a picture.
Remember that your LinkedIn profile photo is the reader’s first introduction to you. Make sure that you are the professional they would like to get to know.
Recommendations Are a Key Executive Branding Tool
The recommendation section is a very powerful selling tool. Nothing speaks louder than when others vouch for you. Try to get recommendations from each job you’ve held, to help show your unique value proposition better.
Recommendations will increase your credibility and establish your professionalism in your chosen career. It is paramount to executive branding. Provide recommendations via the LinkedIn platform to your colleagues and connections where appropriate.
One way to quickly enhance your profile is by pairing up with a close colleague to write recommendations for each other. Be sure to write powerful testimonials for one another to encourage a potential hiring manager to consider your candidacy. Both of you will have enhanced profiles with useful information about the value that you can bring to organizations as a result.
Complete Your LinkedIn Profile to All-Star Status
While you are in edit mode for your profile, check the scale showing the level of completeness. Your profile is not totally complete until your level of completeness scale shows 100%. Even though people viewing your profile won’t see this number, your profile will rise to the top of LinkedIn search results if you have a fully completed profile. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile will pay huge dividends if done correctly.
When you have a fully completed LinkedIn profile you will have a profile summary, a profile photo, a current position, two past positions, education, at least three recommendations, and specialties. Having a strong, fully fleshed out, keyword-rich LinkedIn profile boosts high-quality search results for your name. When hiring professionals do a Google search on your name to assess you, your LinkedIn profile will likely show up within the first 3 search results.
Customize your LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn provides a default URL, which contains a string of characters and numbers. Personalize your profile URL by going to ‘Edit Public Profile URL’ under Settings. By personalizing it with your name, you will show up better in searches and it will be more marketable as part of your executive branding strategy.
Once your LinkedIn profile is fully complete, save it as a PDF file for your records. Now it’s time to bring people to your profile. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume, along with your contact information at the top. You don’t have to stop there either. Include the LinkedIn badge in your email signature, on your website or blog, and anywhere else you’d like to.
What great LinkedIn profile optimization tips do you use? Comment and share below! Need additional assistance? Reach out to Candace to learn more!