Your LinkedIn profile is one of the most important tools for developing and promoting your personal brand. It gives you the opportunity to establish a strong online presence and clearly articulate who you are as a professional. With the right techniques, your profile can perfectly position you for achieving your career goals.
Think of “personal brand” as a fancy term for “reputation.” As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
So, if you’re using your LinkedIn profile to help establish your personal brand, you first need to know what kind of brand you’re trying to create. What do you want people to say about you? What do you want to be known for?
Then, consider how your LinkedIn profile can help make that happen. Specifically, reflect on these questions:
- What do you want people to know about you when they land on your profile?
- What do you want people to do when they land on your profile?
- How do you want people to feel when they land on your profile?
With the answers to these questions in mind, you can create a profile that supports and enhances the brand you want. Here are three specific areas to focus on as you get started.
Powerful Profile Picture
The profile picture is one of the first things people see so you want to make sure it’s “on brand.” It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, but it should look professional. (So, no selfies!) Your wardrobe selection, facial expression and overall look should align with the brand you’ve already defined. More importantly, it should look like you. Don’t radically change for the photo. If you normally wear glasses, for example, keep them on. The best brands are authentic; you don’t want to catch people off-guard if and when they see you in person.
The headline area can help your profile grab attention. It should be a short phrase that encompasses your brand. Even without reading your full profile, the headline can give readers a quick understanding of who you are and what you’re all about. Use this area to define your profession, key job functions, specific results you’ve achieved, and/or anything else that shows how you add value in your role.
The summary area is your chance to extend and reinforce what you communicated in your headline. It should clearly articulate what is unique about you. If your summary sounds like anyone in a similar role could write the same thing, you have work to do. You want your brand to be distinct and memorable. The summary can help give your profile depth. Consider including the following:
- Your Professional Passions & Values: What gets you excited to go to work in the morning?
- Key accomplishment(s): What tangible value have you created for the organizations you’ve served?
- Metrics: What numbers can you offer to help make your accomplishments and other items more concrete? (Think of dollars, percentages, quantities, etc.)
- Top Strength: What is the one thing you believe you can do better than anyone else?
- External Validation: What awards and accolades can you point to? How can you demonstrate thought leadership (for example: publications or speaking engagements)?
- Your X-Factor: What makes you special personally and/or professionally?
You have a lot of room to make your LinkedIn profile your own, so take advantage. Define your unique brand and let every aspect of your profile help strengthen it.