Let’s start with the understanding that if you’re job-hunting, you need to have a robust LinkedIn profile personal brand building strategy. This is especially true if you’re an executive job seeker.
People who can help you meet your career goals are using LinkedIn to find and assess candidates like you. I mean people like executive recruiters and other hiring professionals.
LinkedIn is an extremely important social networking site for career, executive job search, and business-building.
Those who take the time to learn how to use LinkedIn wisely find that it works for them. And they have the competitive advantage over those who have an anemic profile and don’t do much of anything on LinkedIn.
I’ve written more fully about using LinkedIn to communicate your brand, once you’ve completed your profile, in Top 10 Ways to Build Your Online Personal Brand with LinkedIn.
But let’s drill down on some LinkedIn profile personal brand basics, as you’re writing your profile content and building out your profile.
5 LinkedIn Profile Personal Brand Building Essentials
1) Build your LinkedIn network to 500+ connections
Why is it so important to reach and surpass that number?
LinkedIn says that profiles with at least 500 connections land higher in search results for relevant keywords. [More about keywords in #3 below.]
Executives tell me all the time that they’re hesitant to connect with people they don’t know. They worry about connecting with marketers, scammers, people trying to sell them something, or other nefarious people.
There’s an easy fix for that. They’ll show their true colors quickly. If you realize you’ve made a mistake in accepting someone’s invitation, you can back out. It’s easy to remove them from your full list of connections. They won’t be notified that you’ve done this.
There’s another big reason that a big number of connections is a good thing. The more people you’re connected with, the more people who may be able to help you meet your career goals. In addition, more connections means more people learning about your personal brand and unique value proposition.
And, once you get proactive on LinkedIn, more connections means more people you and your personal brand are staying top-of-mind with.
2) Include an expressive, engaging profile headshot
People assessing you through your LinkedIn profile will connect better with your brand-reinforcing content if it’s associated with a face. Think about when you look at other people’s LinkedIn profiles. Don’t you feel more like you “know” someone, if their profile has a good picture of them?
Some people hesitate having a photo on their profile. They worry about discrimination for things like age, weight, ethnic background, appearance, etc. Discrimination definitely exists. I’m sure people miss out on chances because of the way they come across in their profile headshots.
But there’s something they may not have considered. NOT having a photo can cause them to miss out on chances, too.
Having NO photo may lead people further down the discrimination path, wondering what you’re trying to hide.
Profile photos is a controversial topic
Controversy persists about how important profile photos are, and if you must have one. The discussion among job seekers continues on a blog post of mine first published in 2011, Does My LinkedIn Profile Really Need a Photo?
Job seekers are still posting impassioned comments about their experiences with discrimination based on their photos. Many have decided it’s better for them NOT to have a photo. One person said:
“There have been a number of studies in the academic literature which indicate that attractiveness is a factor in the outcome of hiring decisions. Hence, if you are an attractive individual, then by all means you should include a photo on your LinkedIn profile.
If you are not attractive (as in my case), don’t do it. As this article points out, you might be passed up by not having one, but it is equally as likely (and maybe even more so) that you will be passed by if you do have a photo, as you will be deemed less appealing due to physical attractiveness.”
Although everyone needs to make the decision for themselves about whether or not to include a photo, there’s another thing to consider. LinkedIn says that:
“Simply having a profile photo results in up to 21x more profile views and 9x more connection requests.”
3) Keyword, keywords, keywords
You may be sick of hearing about how important keywords are on your LinkedIn profile, but it can never be overstated.
Keywords typically represent your areas of expertise or “hard skills”.
Keywords are how recruiters and hiring professional will find you on LinkedIn, unless they already have your name. They type relevant keywords into a LinkedIn search, based on what they’re looking for in candidates. Profiles that contain enough of those keywords typically land higher in their search results. That’s especially true if that keyword density is backed by the member having 500+ connections.
Through your target company and industry research, you’ll identify the right keywords to use in your profile.
Pay attention to choosing your most important keywords for the profile sections where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays the biggest role. These include the profile headline, About section and Skills & Endorsements.
Keep in mind that you should have plenty of content in each applicable section of your LinkedIn profile. More content supporting your personal brand, means more all-important relevant keywords in your profile content.
Look beyond the About and Experience sections. Check out all the other available profile sections where you might be able to insert more content. Focus on keyword-rich content that supports you, your brand, and your value to your target employers.
However, avoid over-using keywords so that your profile becomes, in effect, merely a list of your hard skills. That will make for a very dull profile.
4) Keep the content well-written, and free of typos and grammatical errors
Want to tarnish your brand right off the bat?
Present yourself and your qualifications in a LinkedIn profile that is poorly written and contains errors.
As I noted in my post, 3 Surprising Ways LinkedIn Hurts Your Personal Brand:
“Such errors will make you look bad as a candidate – unprofessional, lazy for not bothering to proofread, and/or lacking strong written communications skill.
But that’s not all. These errors can negatively impact your Profile’s SEO, especially when they show up towards the top of your Profile, where SEO is more important.”
Many times I’ve seen typos in job seekers’ LinkedIn headlines, such as “Manger” for “Manager”, or “Adminstration” for “Administration”.
Your profile headline is one of the first things people see on your profile. It follows you everywhere on LinkedIn. It’s there when you post an update, or publish an article, or comment on someone else’s update, etc.
Carefully proofread all of your LinkedIn profile content. And don’t rely on spellcheck. Instead, use Grammarly to check the content for all kinds of errors.
5) Create an About section with personality
As noted in #3 above, keywords are essential. However, don’t neglect your so-called “soft” skills – your personal qualities and attributes that you and others rely on you for.
To generate chemistry for your candidacy, work on balancing and syncing your hard skills (or relevant keywords) with some personality. This goes to the heart of personal branding.
The About section (formerly called the Summary section) sits towards the top of your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, it’s likely to be seen immediately by people, when they first lay eyes on your profile.
Entice them at that first glance. Make them want to read your About section, and continue on down the web page to read your entire profile. Make it an interesting read. Don’t be afraid to get your personality in there.
People will connect with the content (and you) better if they get a sense of who you are. Let them know how you operate and what you’re passionate about. Tell them how you lead people, how you’ve accomplished things that benefited your employers.
Include examples to build your LinkedIn profile personal brand
For instance, don’t just note that you “improved processes”. Give a specific example of how you accomplished this. Developing Challenge – Actions – Results (C-A-R) stories will help you do this.
As I noted in my post, How to Write a Dazzling LinkedIn About Section, ask yourself questions like these to uncover your brand story:
- What makes me passionate about the work I do, and the work I will do for future employers?
- How have I been able to overcome challenges, fix problems and make improvements that resulted in great benefits to my employers?
- What ROI (Return on Investment) do I have that makes me the best hiring choice?
- What makes me a good leader?
- How have I engaged and motivated my people to top performance?
- What combination of strengths and skills do I have that no one else does? “
Pump Up Your LinkedIn Profile Personal Brand
Elevate your LinkedIn profile personal brand above others competing for jobs with the same employers:
- Build your LinkedIn network with potential brand ambassadors,
- Choose a profile photo that engages people (if you do include a photo),
- Identify the right keywords to include in your profile,
- Carefully proofread the content for misspellings, typos, errors and/or misleading information, and
- Make your About section sizzle.