Many articles talk about how important it is to create and maintain a strong personal brand. Doing this requires consistency across your written, verbal, and online communications.
In an Entrepreneur article, author Thomas Smale stresses the importance of having an online presence: “Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully fleshed out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible, and make you look professional? Are you using high-quality professional photography? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?”
As a professional, your LinkedIn profile is a critical component of your online personal brand. Let’s look at the major sections of your LinkedIn profile and how they can contribute to your brand:
I call this section the snapshot because that’s exactly what it is: a snapshot of who you are. The snapshot section of your LinkedIn profile includes your photo and your headline. Failure to impress viewers in these areas will hurt your branding.
A photo that is unprofessional is an immediate turnoff. Perhaps more damaging is a non-photo. It’s believed that a profile with a photo is 14 times more likely to be read than one without a photo.
Headlines that say things like “Seeking Employment” or “Project Manager at Company X” are ineffective, as they fail to show value.
Rather, your headline should be something like this: “Project Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.” This headline shows your value and brands you. It also adds to your keyword count.
Support your brand with a powerful summary. This is where you tell your story, which can include the passion you have for your occupation, a statement about your expertise, or some talk about how you’re changing your career.
You’ll want to use close to the 2,000 characters allowed in the summary in order to include the keywords you profile needs to boost your visibility. But your summary must also be compelling. It should mention accomplishments that will capture the reader’s attention.
You should write your summary in either first or third person point of view. Don’t simply repurpose the summary from your resume for this section. For a little guidance on what your summary should be like, read “Put a Human Voice in Your Summary” by Liz Ryan of Human Workplace.
I’m often asked by job seekers how they should address the experience section of their profile. I tell them they have two options: They can either write a section that resembles the work history found on their resume, or they can use their experience section to highlight only their most important accomplishments.
I favor the latter approach, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so they believe showing all is the way to go. What’s most important in either case is listing accomplishments with quantified results.
Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.
Better: Initiated and implemented – before deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58 percent.
It’s a good idea to use bullets to highlight your accomplishments. One of my LinkedIn connections, Donna Serdula, has created a handy list of bullets and symbols you can copy and paste for use on your own profile.
Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the institution they attended, the degree they received, and their date of graduation. This might be the norm for resumes, but LinkedIn give you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your education.
Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude
While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for six years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.
A healthy skills section consisting of 30-50 skills is another way to strengthen your branding. The skills you decide to list should demonstrate your expertise. Do not list skills you are simply familiar with.
To further enhance your branding, the skills may be endorsed by your first-degree LinkedIn connections. If you’re unsure as to which skills to endorse, I have a previous article of mine that can help you.
This is a section I talk about in my LinkedIn workshops, and I always stress how valuable it is to receive recommendations from and write them for others.
By receiving recommendations, you show the value you bring to employers. Meanwhile, writing recommendations shows your authority and what you value in workers.
These are just some sections on your LinkedIn profile that contribute to supporting your strong personal brand. In my next post, I will talk about maintaining strong personal branding via the act of connecting with others on LinkedIn. Stay tuned!