How to Make a Good LinkedIn Profile

A good LinkedIn profile is one which is going to show your viewers who you are, tell them why they should want to get to know you, and offer enough personality to be engaging without being a weirdo.  Let's build one for you now.

How to Make a Good LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is one of those tools that has awesome power – but only if you do it right.

By itself, simply existing on LinkedIn is pretty much a waste of time.  If you've created an account, existed (eg – entered your job description) and then done nothing towards learning how to use this amazing tool for your professional benefit, then you are missing out on one of the easiest profiling exercising in the world.

Of course, there are some tragically dumb things that people do with their LinkedIn profiles, and must be avoided.  However, today we're taking the positive approach.

Let's take a look at our steps that we're going to engage in today to show you precisely how to make a good LinkedIn profile:

  1. Getting the visuals right
  2. Creating a summary of your entire being, life and interests – in a few words; and
  3. Establishing authority while remaining authentic.

Getting the Visuals Right

There are two areas of visuals that you need to get right in your LinkedIn profile:

  1. your profile picture; and
  2. your background image.

Your LinkedIn Profile Pic

It amazes me how many people don't do very well in terms of their profile pictures, but there are a lot of truly awful pictures out there.  By awful, I'm not talking about how pretty you are or how “good” the photo is, I'm just talking about the basic elements of profile pictures.  Here are the best practices to adopt:

  • you should be recognizable – if your picture is so zoomed out, so fuzzy, or so complicated that I can't tell what you look like – then it's not serving it's purpose
  • it should be professional, but not necessarily stodgy – chugging down a gallon of champagne in your LinkedIn profile picture is probably not the look to aim for (especially given that LinkedIn profiles can be searched by the public at large).  But that doesn't mean it needs to be ultra boring either – just find a nice medium ground in terms of looking like someone that people would enjoy getting to know at a professional level
  • you should be alone – if there are two people or a large crowd, then how do I know which one is you?
  • generally a head shot is better than a whole body shot, if only because of the first rule above

Your Background Image

This one doesn't have to be a big deal, but since you have an opportunity to replace your background image with something more interesting, then you should do it.

As you can see from the image above, the dimensions for your LinkedIn background are a bit annoying – it's a really wide image and not very tall.  It's also got a big hole in the middle where your profile data goes.  For that reason, it can be a bit annoying to find an image that works properly.

However, pic something that aligns in terms of colour, tone and imagery with your overall message.  It's a nice subtle way to reinforce your first impressions of:

  • what you do
  • what kind of person you are
  • what you enjoy
  • whether you have a sense of humour
  • whether you don't
  • and so on.

I find that it can be useful to create my background image after I've written my summary – that way I have an idea of what I'm trying to achieve or support.

Your LinkedIn Summary

Lots has been written about LinkedIn summaries and the do and do-nots of writing them.

Of course, your LinkedIn summary should be focused on the kind of people that you expect to be reading your profile.  There's no point in having a marketing campaign underway to attract mountain bike riders and then have your entire summary about how much long distance running you do.  It's just not relevant.

The trick, of course, is that most of us are not one trick ponies – we have multiple interests, multiple markets, and multiple abilities.

The temptation in such circumstances is to create a generic profile with a little bit about everything.  I'd encourage you to try and avoid that, because in trying to be everything for everyone, the chances are that you won't be compelling enough to catch anyone's attention.

Instead, as part of your overall LinkedIn strategy, I'd suggest that you try and focus on one area at a time.  If you're active in particular groups, particular areas, particular industries most of the time – then make your profile about those, rather than trying to be everything.

Beyond that overarching rule, your LinkedIn summary is there to do two things:

  • create an impression; and
  • deliver some information.

A lot of people only focus on information.  They go into what they do, how they do it, and generally some accolades or bits and pieces like that.  It's a standard bio in that respect.

However, most people forget about impression.  What kind of impression are you trying to create?  Forgetting this step means that your profile, and that of most people, is going to end up extremely bland.  So bland, in fact, that there is really no reason to read it at all.

So, although you'll be delivering some information about yourself, try to use a style and tone that is authentically and uniquely you.  Are you:

  • funny
  • professional
  • serious
  • experienced
  • outgoing
  • introverted
  • nerdy
  • sporty
  • friendly
  • zany
  • bizarre
  • normal
  • boring?

If you are stuck, ask yourself this question: how do I want people who read this to feel?

Injecting Authority Into your Profile

It's at this point that the added bits and pieces start to come in to play.

You've got your profile pic, and you've drafting a good summary

Now you need to back it up.

The list of things that you can add to your LinkedIn profile is massive and I don't plan on going into them all.  To me, here are a few highlights that will supplement your authority:

  • publications – probably nobody will read these, but having them there at least makes it look like you are active and prolific
  • videos – if you've gone to the trouble of making videos that are relevant to your people, then why not add them in?
  • recommendations – having recommendations is one of the most powerful forms of social proof that you can get.  You can find out how to give and get recommendations on LinkedIn here.
  • SlideShare publications – if you've done any kind of presentations or lists that can translate into a good SlideShare, then why not create a SlideShare and put them on your profile?

Basically – explore the options on  your LinkedIn profile, and add as much into it that you can which is:

  1. relevant; and
  2. helpful.

That's It!

That's my main tips for creating a good linkedin profile.  These ideas will get you on your way, but don't be afraid to explore things a bit, change up your profile, and stand out from the crowd by doing something different. Got any more advice for creating an effective LinkedIn profile?  Let us know in the comments!

Happy Lawyering!