Today, your first impression is formed online. When people are researching you in a professional capacity, their go-to resource is LinkedIn. So if you want to wow people with your authentic first impression, you need to make your LinkedIn profile congruent with who you are in the real world. That means aligning the bits-and-bytes you with the flesh-and-bones you. Here are five things you need to include in your profile so you can inspire those who are checking you out.
1. About. Your About is the most important element of your profile because it’s the place where you tell your story. Shockingly, many people leave this valuable piece of digital real estate vacant. Yet your About will likely be the most read version of your bio; it’s the opportunity to engage with people. Don’t confuse your About with what it replaced (the now-defunct element called Summary). Summary, as it implies, was meant to be a mere recap of what’s in your entire profile. In contrast, your About should be an exciting combination of accomplishments, experience and accolades along with more human aspects of who you are—your values, passions and differentiation. People want to connect with people they know, like and trust, so make sure your About sits at the intersection of credibility and likability. When you write your About in the first person, you create a conversation between you and the reader of your profile—and that’s a great way to start or bolster a relationship.
2. Featured. The rarely used yet extremely valuable feature called Featured helps you showcase those things that reinforce what you say about yourself in your About. When you include videos, images, whitepapers, infographics, etc. you add a visual element to your profile—helping it stand out from all those text-heavy profiles that merely consist of the 26 letters of the English alphabet (or however many letters there are in your language).
3. Background. When someone clicks on your profile, the very first thing they see is the background image. It glows behind your headshot and headline and can help you tell your story in a visually compelling way—but only if you take the time to actually upload an image to your background. Many professionals ignore this feature and are stuck with the boring and repetitive grayish green non-image that’s LinkedIn’s standard issue. You can use your background to include cool typography with meaningful phrases that tell people what you’re passionate about, to showcase yourself at work, and even to demonstrate your loyalty to your employer (by using their brand color, logo, tagline, values, etc.). Whatever you choose to include, just make sure it’s authentic and interesting.
4. Multimedia. Words are not as powerful as pictures, and pictures are not as powerful as videos. Fortunately, LinkedIn allows you to add multimedia elements to your Experience entries. What you include can help you reinforce your credibility and provide proof of your accomplishments, including clips of yourself giving presentations or other portfolio snippets. Even if profile viewers don’t click on the images or videos you include, adding media makes your profile more visually compelling and helps you stand out while providing a glimpse into your world.
5. Profile Video. Think of this brief video that rests behind your headshot as your 30-60 second elevator pitch. It’s the best way to give decision makers—especially those who don’t know you—a little taste of who you are, emanating your style and your personality. It need not be a professionally shot video. In fact, something you create in your work environment using your mobile phone is a great way to show your authentic personal brand.
LinkedIn is a powerful platform for delivering an engaging first impression while building and nurturing professional relationships. Make the most of your profile so you can stand out and amp up your personal brand.
William Arruda is a keynote speaker, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and co-creator of the Personal Brand Power Audit – a complimentary quiz that helps you measure the strength of personal brand.