LinkedIn can be an irreplaceable tool at your disposal; however, many salespeople are not using it to its full potential. Even the basics of our profiles fall short. So here is some advice to make your LinkedIn profile more robust and appealing.
Choose an appropriate profile picture
One of the reasons we offer a complimentary headshot with all of our in-person workshops is that so many LinkedIn profile headshots are terrible. Perfect example: one attendee had a very handsome photo, in black tie no less, but his head was positioned so close to the edge of the frame, one had to wonder if someone else had been cropped out of the picture. When I asked him about it, he sheepishly confessed that it was a picture someone had taken at his wedding – of him and his now ex-wife! Fortunately, he could replace it with the professional photo he received at our training. Others are using a photo from 20 years ago, which would make it unnecessarily difficult to recognize them at a networking event today. Sometimes the photo is out of focus, taken from too far away, or taken at such close range against a white wall that it looks like a mugshot, with camera flash shadows and all. Bottom line, for goodness sake, choose an appropriately professional headshot as your profile picture. And don’t think that leaving the profile picture blank sidesteps the issue. I’ve heard it said that the only thing worse than a LinkedIn profile without a picture is a dating site profile without a picture.
Seriously, looks aren’t everything; however, posting a LinkedIn profile without a picture suggests either you’re hiding something, or you’re embarrassed about your looks, or you can’t even get yourself organized enough to have a headshot photo taken, digitized and uploaded... or all of the above!
Make sure that your job description is up to date and accurate
If you haven't revisited your LinkedIn profile for a while, it's possible that it's completely out of date. Have you changed companies? Have you moved? Have you switched jobs? Have you been promoted? What are your new duties? Are you looking for a new job? Were you looking for a job when you last updated your profile, and then forgot to update it when you were hired? What if a current prospect becomes interested enough in you and your company to check you out on LinkedIn, and when they get there, they find a profile that looks as if you’re seeking employment? Not exactly a confidence booster, right?
In terms of connections, you need to choose your connections carefully because prospects may very well check out the people you are connected to and at least partially base their evaluation of you on what they find. Consistency is also important. I’ve worked with companies that have asked me to look at their staff's LinkedIn profiles. One of the first things I noticed is that they’re all over the place. The pictures are different from one another, they don’t use the same jargon, the writing quality varies greatly. A portfolio of employees with wildly varying LinkedIn profiles hardly presents a good party line for the company.
Like any good resume, be quantitative in your accomplishments
People look at LinkedIn profiles to get a better sense of the background, character and skill sets of the folks they’re considering doing business with: where they have worked, what their positions have been, where they graduated from, and what their academic or social interests might be.
Above all, keep your profile concise and write using language that people outside your industry would understand as you describe your level of responsibility and accomplishments. If possible, try to make it consistent with others in your company. And remember to check and update it often.