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5 Tips for putting your best professional self forward on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn you only have 1/10th of a second to make a good first impression!

Like it or not, neuroscience tells us that it takes just a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don't significantly alter those impressions.

GirlThis is an important fact to know, especially on social media sites. 

With over 150 members worldwide, LinkedIn has now become the social networking site for business professionals worldwide.  The only thing worse than not having a LinkedIn profile is one that does not appropriately reflect your professional self, skills and expertise.

Knowing that first impressions count, below are 5 tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile to help you present your best self online to make a positive and lasting impression.

 1.     Upload a Professional Photo

The must have element in your LinkedIn profile is your photo.  Why?  According to LinkedIn, adding a profile photo makes your profile 7 times more likely to be found in search.  Plus which, it is your photo that will draw a visitor into clicking on  your profile.   Ensure you upload a professional photo of yourself, preferably in colour and against a light or neutral background that includes only yourself – no pets or kids!  It’s better if you are smiling and you show only your head and shoulders.  Be sure you are wearing business attire, whether more formal or casual.  And ladies…don’t wear a strapless dress for obvious reasons!

 2.     Write a Descriptive Headline

Eye tracking studies prove that your headline and photo are the two most visited parts of your LinkedIn profile.   Your headline is the sentence that appears just below your name.  Rather than just stating your title and company make it a short descriptive phrase that provides a snapshot of what you do, the benefit or expertise you provide, or the clients you serve.  You have 120 characters in which to all of that, but it is possible!  For example:  Account Executive at XYZ Marketing Co. specializing in database marketing solutions for the financial sector.  If you are seeking employment, it’s to your advantage to state that you are looking for your next opportunity, but make it specific so your network will know how they can help you.

 3.     Tell Your Story in Your Summary

The summary section is the place where you can shine and “tell your story”.  Are you passionate about what you do? Do you have a specific expertise that you are known for?  Do you have a certain philosophy about how you serve customers?  What was the path that got you to your present position?  State that type of information here to show how you are unique. Also make sure that you summarize your experience  and include key words that are descriptive of what you do.  For this section, write in full sentences in the first person, using the word “I”.  Referring to yourself in the third person, like you are writing a biography is not appropriate because this is your personal profile.   Three or four short paragraphs will be enough.  Your limit is 2,000 characters.

 4.     Add Specialties and Skills

There are two places in your profile where you can list your expertise.  One is in the “specialties” section underneath your summary and the other is under “skills” – where you can add up to 50 of them, but be sure to add at least 5.  Pay extra attention to skills, because this one of the key ways in which you will be found when someone conducts a search.  Get specific, using terms such as: digital printing, content marketing, search engine optimization, wedding photography, and other related and similar terms that you will find in the LinkedIn skills database.

5.     Add 2 most recent positions

In order to have a 100% complete profile on LinkedIn you will have to provide details for your current position and two previous positions.  According to LinkedIn, having your two most recent positions makes your profile 12 times more likely to be found.  As with the advice provided for your summary and skills, ensure that you include key words when you describe the position you held and the accomplishments you achieved. 

See you on LinkedIn!


Anita Windisman is the President of One of a Kind Marketing where the philosophy is building business relationships one at a time through social media.  The company specializes in providing LinkedIn consulting and training for sales teams and senior business professionals.  Follow One of a Kind Marketing on LinkedIn. 




One Comment

  1. Vivek
    Vivek April 6, 2012

    Nice post…so very important information..Thanks

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