LIf you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already know how important a strong LinkedIn profile is to your professional brand, whether your goals are client acquisition, building your network, or getting a job. But in your haste to turn your profile into an expanded resume of achievements and honors, you might be overlooking the most powerful part of your profile – the Summary section!
What’s the big deal?
LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters to paint a picture of who you are – your top achievements, key differentiators, and career narrative – and then makes it one of the first things visitors to your page see! It’s like giving your elevator pitch once and having it heard in elevators around the world.
Even more importantly, it’s one of the most heavily indexed sections of your page by search engine crawlers, so optimizing that space is crucial for getting your profile to the top of search results on LinkedIn itself and even on third-party search engines like Google. Identify the keywords you want to optimize for (like Project Management and Process Improvement if you’re a Project Manager) and strategically pepper them throughout your summary to boost your rankings.
Beyond keyword optimization, you’ll want to take the opportunity to express your authentic personality in this section. Your visitors are more likely to want to connect or do business with you if they feel like they know you.
Authenticity is key: don’t let your keywords turn to buzzwords or make your personality into an affect. If your 2,000 words sound like “I’m a dynamically driven media maven specializing in synergistically optimizing your cloud-based platform or creative enterprise for today’s economy of disruption,” you may be better off pasting a word cloud into your summary section (or you may work for Tronc.).
Anatomy and Structure
There is no “one-size-fits-all” structure for a good LinkedIn summary – your personality, career path, and business goals all help determine your ideal voice and structure. Before you begin writing, make sure you identify A) Your target audience(s) and B) What actions you want your audience to take when visiting your profile. Then tailor your content with those goals in mind.
Regardless of your goals, the following high-level structure is a good one to follow:
The famous copywriter Joseph Sugarman argued the “sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence of the copy.” Your profile is your personal advertisement, and you need to capture your visitors’ attention immediately.
Consider this example from Saideh Jamshidi, an Iranian journalist and entrepreneur:
“From rebellious tomboy to emerging authority in the world of Muslim women’s fashion, my story began as a stubborn nine-year-old girl, pretending to be a boy to avoid being forced to cover my head.”
Jamshidi immediately captures her audience’s interest while still conveying what she does, why she does it, and a splash of her personality.
Creative professions like journalism and content marketing may have more leeway to strike a casual or narrative tone in their summary than some traditional professions like finance or law, but that doesn’t mean you have to repress your personality altogether. Dave Rosenow, a longtime VP in the finance industry, uses his first few sentences to state his unique value proposition while still engaging his audience:
“Change is always difficult, but driving and managing change in the financial industry is a different animal altogether. It can flummox even the best broker-dealers. Fortunately, I’m not your average broker-dealer exec.”
Core Achievements/Career Highlights
Now that you have your reader’s attention, you can highlight your most impressive accomplishments and spin your career narrative. One way to do this is with a bulleted “Highlights” section, which can be especially effective if you have a lot of quantifiable achievements or deep experience in a given industry.
Increased b/d’s recurring income from 60% to 73% in less than 5 years.
Boosted rep/advisor (R/A) retention rate to 99.5% each year and brought employees to an average of 13 years of service.
You could also take a more narrative approach, especially if you have a nonlinear career or switched industries several times. This method can also be a powerful way to express why you do what you do and establish your passion for your work. People remember stories – make them remember yours!
If you have space, take the opportunity to sprinkle your hobbies, passions, or volunteer work throughout your summary – especially if you can connect them to your professional work. For example, an accountant might write:
“Whether it’s hanging on the links until dusk working on my backswing, signing up for double raffle shifts at my church’s summer festival, or triple-checking my clients’ returns, I go above and beyond in my quest for perfection.”
Don’t miss an opportunity to inject your personality into your profile – it could be the thing that gets you hired. At the end of the day, people will be working with you and not your accomplishments.
Call to Action
Now it’s time to take those goals and targeted actions you wrote down before beginning your summary and state them clearly in your summary. Sound bold? Sure it is, but by now you’ve established your expertise and what you have to offer – now state what you’re looking for in return.
Message firstname.lastname@example.org if you:
Have a story to contribute
Are a freelance journalist or content writer
Need expertise on Islamic culture or Middle Eastern culture
Are an investor or venture capitalist
Remember, if they’ve read this far in your summary, there’s a good chance they’re interested in working with you. Tell them how.
Finally, make sure you include your contact information in this section so prospects don’t have to search through the rest of your profile for your email.
Once you’ve polished your message and spiced it up with impressive stats and stories, check your character count. If you’re under 2,000, great! You can highlight some of your key skills right in your summary to make them more visible and optimize your profile for search engines.
Now it’s your turn!
You can tailor the above structure to just about any industry or business goal as long as your keep your audience and desired actions in mind and authentically convey who you are and why your audience should want to connect with you.
Express your personality. Use keywords. But don’t be a word cloud.
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