It’s Time to Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile for the New Year

December 1, 2016


Over the next several weeks, you’ll probably be able to take some seasonal downtime. For some independents, after spending time with family and friends, this is a chance to reorganize and regroup for the New Year.

This holiday season, one thing worth considering during your spare time is to spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Many only see LinkedIn as an online résumé and a good networking tool, but experts say it’s all about your brand.

“One of the first things I remind independents is that they are their brand,” said Kate Paine, president of Standing Out Online LLC in Burlington, Vt. “Use your LinkedIn presence to showcase who you are versus what you do.”

Jennifer Donovan, founder of Nova Communications in San Francisco, advises: “Include links to content that demonstrates your value — everything from blog posts to contributed articles to videos. And ensure your profile doesn’t read like a résumé. Speak in first person so people can connect to you because people want to make an emotional connection in some way to be able to trust you.”

Paine says that a good LinkedIn profile tells your story as it is weaved into a listing of your skills and any thought leadership you want to showcase.

“People connect with stories,” she said. “Your unique story helps you stand out.”

Paine also advises to complete your profile as much as possible. Use your summary to hook your visitor because it’s the most important place to tell your story. Break up your text with bullets to make it easier for visitors to read, particularly when listing services or skills. Point out the problems you solve and how you solve them.

“Perhaps one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do is to have a strong, interesting, search-engine-optimized headline,” Paine said. “Combine some SEO terms, along with a descriptor of who you are.”

Donovan concurs. “Make it easy for people to find you. Think of words that people would use to search for someone like you and include those key words in your headline, your summary and throughout your profile. People don’t search for ‘founder’ or ‘vice president;’ they search for the need they are looking to fill such as ‘PR consultant’ or ‘social media trainer.’”

Paine also suggests completing the volunteer portion. She says LinkedIn places a lot of weight with search in this section.

An opportunity for expansion

In terms of mistakes people make, both Donovan and Paine see too many LinkedIn users not keeping their information current and treating their LinkedIn updates like a chore, and not an opportunity.

“Incomplete profiles, not updating your jobs or summaries, not giving details about each role or including photos that may be inappropriate for LinkedIn are all common mistakes I see,” Donovan said. “Think, would you want to hire yourself if you came across your profile?”

Attention to detail shouldn’t stop with your own writing, Paine says.

“Even when you receive recommendations, it’s a good idea to make sure that when you receive testimonials from others they include certain keywords,” she said. “Not only will you get more bandwidth from an SEO standpoint, but the recommendation will convey more about what you do in specific terms.”

Tim O'Brien, APR

Tim O’Brien, APR, owns O’Brien Communications, an independent corporate communications practice in Pittsburgh, and hosts the “Shaping Opinion” podcast. Email: Twitter: @OBrienPR.


Lisa Simon says:

Perfect timing! Updating my profile is on my to do list, deadline 1.1.17. Agreed. Updates are an opportunity. Long live LinkedIn.

Dec. 11, 2016

Edward M. Bury, APR says:

Hello: Sound advice. One additional suggestion: Consider updating your profile image with a headshot that reflects the kind of business you represent.

Dec. 12, 2016

Lisa Cassandra Joahil says:

Excellent! I'm doing this right now. Thank you.

Dec. 15, 2016

Devra Garcia says:

Mr. O'Brien, I loved the article and I will be looking at my LinkedIn profile and update it with The Quickness. At the end of your article you have a brief profile. Why did you write this like this??? "cor-por-ate com-mu-ni-ca-tions practice".? You peaked my curiousity. Thank you.

Dec. 21, 2016

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