How can I build an effective LinkedIn profile? 20 tips from LinkedIn influencers
From gathering endorsements for social proof to posting with authority, here are 20 answers to the question, “Can you elaborate on the most effective steps a beginner should take when building and optimizing their personal brand on LinkedIn?”
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- Provide Endorsements for Social Proof
- Start With Trust Building, Not With a Shiny Brand
- Remain Active in Groups
- Treat Your Profile Like a Landing Page
- Cast a Line, Not a Net
- Pay for Professional Headshots
- Stop Using Buzzwords
- Align Your Activity Feed With Your Personal Brand
- End Your Posts With Conversation-Triggering Conclusions
- Complete Your Profile to 100%
- Make It Scannable
- Network With Connections
- Host LinkedIn Live Events
- Tell Us What You Do and Who You Do It for
- Create Eye-Catching Profile Banners
- Tell Your Personal Brand Story in Your About Section
- Use an Appropriate Title
- Turn on Creator Mode
- Curate a Formula for Thought-Leadership
- Find Your Authority
Provide Endorsements for Social Proof
Though many approach a LinkedIn profile as a short-form bio, the best way to view it is as a marketing apparatus, and this is why you should get endorsements.
In marketing, social proof, whether it be from reviews or user-generated content, can add legitimacy to your claims, and having others praise your qualities can have the same impact on your personal brand. Having endorsements from third parties that provide a link that will lead them to third parties who recognize your skills, mention your attention to detail, and act as a testament to your work ethic, can be a powerful marketing tool for your own personal brand. By including a healthy endorsement listing, you can offer the social proof needed to back your skills and claims, and bolster your personal brand in the process.
Start With Trust Building, Not With a Shiny Brand
Google “brand building,” and you will find a ton about brand core, brand promise, brand identity, corporate design, and corporate identity. But a personal brand works differently. It is not a faceless company that creates a brand, but a human being.
So, I’d like you to focus on yourself as a person. It is tempting to start with shiny images, familiar brand elements, and bold colors. But these elements of a brand will not create the core. It’s merely the shell that shines.
Long-term success comes from the core. And this core is your trustworthiness. Hence, create trust. Be an expert and showcase your expertise every day. Combined with consistency, this is the most vital asset you can build. LinkedIn provides many options to do so. Videos, Carousels, Newsletters, and of course, standard posts.
Remain Active in Groups
It is important to be an active member within groups that align with your professional niche. Contributing actively to these conversations can help create connections and conversations, ultimately opening opportunities for collaboration with other professionals.
Be sure to provide meaningful insights and focus on being helpful, as this will not only showcase your expertise in the field but also serve as an introduction for potential employers and peers alike. Be sure to follow up with those you have connected with as well; connecting via email or a message through your own page is also beneficial. Doing this drastically increases the visibility of your personal brand while creating genuine relationships among industry peers.
Treat Your Profile Like a Landing Page
Set your headline to a big number, for example, my headline on LinkedIn is, “0 to 1,500,000 organics/month.” This drives clicks through to your profile when people read your comments.
Then, optimize your profile like a landing page. Attach case studies and links to strong opinions you have everywhere LinkedIn allows.
Finally, go comment all over your newsfeed. LinkedIn gives you what you give it—the more engagement you put in, the more engagement you’ll get back. This strategy helped my co-founders and me generate over 2 million impressions on LinkedIn in 2022, contributing to 313 inbound sales meetings.
Cast a Line, Not a Net
It’s tempting when you are building your LinkedIn profile from scratch and casting a wide net. Sending out hundreds of connection requests, and subscribing to dozens of pages—it’s really a game of attrition, and that can work but is less effective than embracing your niche.
Embracing your niche will be a slower build, but you will end up with a higher-quality experience and connections that convert into jobs. Writing about your niche, connecting with specific experts, and seeking endorsements will optimize your brand into something unique. Don’t get lost in mediocrity!
Pay for Professional Headshots
Taking the time to build out a perfectly optimized LinkedIn profile, with references, projects, interests, and work history—a poor profile photo immediately renders everything that goes into making your account pop and stand out useless.
It really is the first thing people look at, and if you’re just standing in front of a blank wall and using your old point-and-shoot, you will not get nearly the mileage out of your account that you would if you had a quality professional headshot. They cost under a hundred dollars in most places, and will pay dividends well into the future, so I’d recommend investing in one before you get too far along.
Stop Using Buzzwords
LinkedIn “buzzwords” are adverbs that have been overused in headlines and summaries to where they have lost nearly all of their original meaning. Words like “specialized,” “leadership,” “focused,” “strategic,” “experienced,” “passionate,” “expert,” “creative,” “innovation,” and “certified” regularly appear on our lists of the most overused buzzwords.
I’m not arguing that labels like this are meaningless or that you shouldn’t use them to describe yourself. Saying you have these traits, though, won’t prove it to anyone. You must not only identify these traits in yourself, but also showcase them through your LinkedIn profile.
Align Your Activity Feed With Your Personal Brand
Review your LinkedIn activity feed and remove those posts, articles, documents, and activities that are not in line with your personal branding. You can only do this once you’ve decided on the details of your personal brand; otherwise, your feed will be all over the place with no focus. Your aim is for LinkedIn visitors to clearly understand who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do.
End Your Posts With Conversation-Triggering Conclusions
LinkedIn is, at its core, a social community for sharing expertise, not for dumping your opinions on your community. Therefore, when you post on LinkedIn, don’t stamp your opinions on your audience, giving them no option but to accept them.
Instead, make your posts open for discussion and invite your audience to take part and evaluate the validity of your perspective, even adding different viewpoints. You can do this by ending your posts with conversation-triggering conclusions that open the door for your audience to contribute and constructively critique you.
For example, you could end your post with “Did I miss anything?”, “What else do you think I should add?” or “Does anyone have a better idea?” These conclusions will trigger open and healthy conversations. Additionally, with more comments on your posts, LinkedIn’s algorithm will recognize them as interesting posts and promote them.
Complete Your Profile to 100%
Keep in mind that you are not finished with your profile until every single field has the information and all of the required information has been entered. Only then will your profile be considered complete.
LinkedIn gives a winning edge to people who completely fill out their profiles. This is because the more information you put in there, the more LinkedIn pushes your profile to its members. So make sure you have an up-to-date profile: tell the world about your skills, experiences, education, and accomplishments.
Make It Scannable
One mistake professionals make when revamping their LinkedIn profile is adding their entire work history in long and drawn-out paragraphs. But recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to read 10 minutes’ worth of content on your profile alone. Instead, use formatting to your advantage. Implement bullet points where you can, leave lots of white space in your “About” section, and make sure what you’re writing is both relevant and concise.
Network With Connections
Your connections are the foundation of your brand. Reach out to people from different backgrounds, industries, and locations. Attend events and conferences when possible. Aim for authentic relationships with peers and potential customers alike. Likewise, offer real value to your contacts.
Provide advice or introduce them to someone who can help further their career or business. If you’re a mentor, offer your expertise. Or simply stay in touch with those who send you messages or updates. You can also use LinkedIn to build relationships and foster collaborations through shared content.
Host LinkedIn Live Events
Hosting live events can be an effective strategy for a beginner to build and optimize their personal brand on LinkedIn by demonstrating their expertise, connecting with their target audience, increasing their visibility and reach, and showcasing their personal brand and personality. This is the direction in which social media is going, and you can stand out by getting yourself in front of the web camera to go live and record some shareable content!
Tell Us What You Do and Who You Do It for
Employers, partners, and clients want to know one thing: Can you do the job they need done? When they visit your LinkedIn profile, your headline (the part where most people put their job title) should tell them what you do and who you do it for. It’s especially effective if you fill in these blanks: “I help _________ to ____________. ”
For example: “I help chiropractors sign up 20 new clients each month,” “I help Chinese companies run Facebook ads in the US,” or “I help female business leaders execute their next career move.” Not only does this help your target market know you can help them, but it also helps your friends and associates understand who they can refer to you.
Create Eye-Catching Profile Banners
There is a misconception that professional recruiters brush over visuals, and this is why you should pay attention to your banner design to enhance your personal brand on LinkedIn.
Though content is important, employers are not beyond noticing visuals, and ignoring your banner design can create a missed opportunity to make an impactful first impression. In using eye-catching imagery, vibrant colors, and infographics, you can communicate in an instant your most important brand attributes.
In addition, it can also serve as an advantage by providing quick points of reference to those recruiters who have to filter through many candidate profiles. By spending time to create a LinkedIn profile banner that showcases your personal brand, you can make an immediate impact on recruiters, and provide them a tone that will motivate them to look more closely at your resume.
Tell Your Personal Brand Story in Your About Section
Your LinkedIn profile is a blank canvas that is yours to bring to life. You are unique—and this is the place to show it. Let others know what you want to be known for. Tell your story. Showcase your accomplishments. And let the world know where you want to go.
Start by gaining clarity on what positions you are targeting. Then imagine talking to a mentor and explaining how your past roles have prepared you for these target positions. Think about all you’ve accomplished that will make you the ideal candidate for these roles.
After you tell this story to yourself, write the essential aspects. This is your Personal Brand Story. Use it as the foundation to write your LinkedIn About section. Tell your story in the first person, use the entire character space, and don’t be afraid to inject some personality, humor, or fun facts. Start with what you want to be known for, state the positions you are pursuing, and then tell your accomplishments that make you the ideal candidate.
Use an Appropriate Title
There are lots of reasons key influencers on LinkedIn use something other than their title in their headline. There are also times in your career when your current title is the best headline you could use. Here are some examples:
Headline is Your Title:
- Actively looking for a new career opportunity as the same role (Recruiter magnet)
- Title is C-Suite or Senior Leadership relevant to your command/presence
- You are a principal or owner where your title may open doors
Headline is Something Else:
- You are driving leads to a business that targets a specific audience
- You are looking to migrate into influencer status and want to cite specific expertise
- You are launching something new and want to bring attention to that initiative
Some Don’ts from the perspective of someone who gets 30-50+ messages a day:
- Something vague like “Podcaster” that doesn’t target your audience
- Anything cute such as “Dog Mom” unless it is related to your target –
- Ego-driven titles: Expert of____
Turn on Creator Mode
Creator Mode is a shortcut to get your LinkedIn profile noticed. When turned on, LinkedIn displays your number of connections and your number of followers. It optimizes your profile for showcasing content, and it encourages you to pick a few topics that you like to post about.
For example, under my profile photo and headline, it says “Talks about #recruiting, #careerpivots, #philanthropy, and #communitypartnerships.” Identifying yourself as a subject expert in your industry will elevate your profile, and you can easily update your topics whenever you’d like.
Allowing other LinkedIn users to follow your profile instead of only connecting with you through a connection request will widen your reach and audience. Creator Mode also provides access to additional tools like LinkedIn Live and Newsletters.
Curate a Formula for Thought-Leadership
My personal brand has amplified my influence because of my formula for thought leadership that informs how I show up online and in high-stakes conversations. This has been the number one driver for my success because it piques my curiosity and creates trust, relevance, and credibility with my audience. It also creates clarity and focuses in a way that eliminates confusion and overwhelm for those who look to me for guidance.
Find Your Authority
As a LinkedIn Top Green Voice, here is one important step that a beginner should take to build out and optimize their personal brand on LinkedIn: find your authority. It’s so important not to just spray and pray.
While many of us have several things we could talk about, the way to build a strong and authoritative personal brand is to pick three topics on which you really know your stuff. Aim to write about each of them weekly, posting at least once a day.
As part of that authority, split your posts between personal experience, expertise, and learning from others. This gives a wide net for a niche topic.