LINKEDIN FOR PERSONAL BRANDING
Unless you are a successful entrepreneur or otherwise financially independent you are likely dependent on a job. That means that from time to time you are applying for jobs and therefore you have probably already used LinkedIn which is THE platform to present yourself publically in a professional context.
LinkedIn profiles rank really well on Google. A well developed LinkedIn profile will normally rank in the top 3 positions for your name. If you have a very generic name this may be a bit more complicated but even more important to distinctly present yourself.
This is going to be your first impression, anyone researching you, will get. Based on the information on your LinkedIn people will be able to judge your level of education, professional seniority and likely level of income.
In short, it is important to get this right.
Below you will find the most critical elements that you need to customize on LinkedIn in order to get the maximum out of your profile and to properly position your personal brand in your professional network.
A distinct profile headline is the first description that people will ever see
The LinkedIn headline is an important piece for real estate on the LinkedIn platform because it is a direct description of you and shows up in the most prominent locations on LinkedIn.
There is no right or wrong when deciding on what type of information you would like to show but there are a few very popular ways of doing it that I would like to present here to get your creative juices flowing.
Option 1: Keep it clean and simple
The screenshot above shows you a very conservative way of describing yourself, however, in the professional context this can play out to your advantage, particularly if you are job hunting. Option 1 allows you to reduce the noise and get straight to the point.
Option 2: Get the maximum out of your headline
Independent professionals and entrepreneurs are usually more courageous with the headlines. Here is an example that shows that perfectly.
Now that you have seen the 2 extremes, go ahead and make sure that your headline is up-to-date and corresponds to the personal brand that you would like to project into the world.
Custom LinkedIn URL
When you start out with your profile on LinkedIn a regular URL is assigned to it. It looks something like that.
On the screenshot below you can also see how the URL is indexed by Google and how it shows up in the search results directly impacting your personal brand.
You have the opportunity here to customize your domain name and contribute towards your personal brand online. You do not have to you use your name at all as long as the handle is available. Most importantly, you are allowed to get rid of the ugly numbers and a customization here shows that you are an advanced user of the platform.
Custom LinkedIn Background
Blank billboards are the missed opportunities
The LinkedIn background is probably one of the most visual customizations besides the photo and the headline.
Certain professionals choose not to select a custom background. And in certain contexts I would agree, as at a certain level of seniority in a non-creative corporation unless it is a company brand related brand background, you might project a “too playful” image. You may want to avoid this.
For everyone else, this is a great opportunity to show some consistency with your general online brand and literally show some colors. Especially for everyone in marketing and in other at least somewhat creative professions have some wiggle room for a personal touch.
Personally, I enjoy using patterns that are consistent with the colors I use on other platforms, my website and on my CV.
Custom LinkedIn Photo
The most important LinkedIn element
What distinguishes a professional photo are 3 things. Proper lighting. Clean background. Facial expression.
If you can get these 3 things right, you are likely to get a great LinkedIn photo.
If you have an opportunity to get this done professionally, you can skip this section and upload your ready-made portrait photo. Your photographer of choice knows what to do.
However, if you are like me, you may want to ask a friend to make a few good shots, because I have a decent camera and I know how to use Photoshop. And yes, I know how to smile from time to time.
Ideally dress up nicely, pick a white wall to stand against near a window during a sunny day and let a friend make 50 pictures in different poses and with various facial expressions. Trust me, from 50 photos only 2-3 will actually be good enough.
In Photoshop it is easier to remove a simple background such as a white wall because your body can be distinctly selected. You can find plenty of YouTube tutorials on that or you can ask a graphic designer friend to do this for you. Or hire someone online.
As soon as you have your perfect image without a background you can pick any background. Some prefer a dark gradient background while I like it plain white.
LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements
3 featured skills and 50 in total.
If you are on LinkedIn only for personal branding reasons and you actually not depend on the LinkedIn search algorithm in any way, you are probably well off with selecting some of your main few skills. These can then be displayed on the profile making it bigger and a bit more profound.
However, this feature is more important for people positioning themselves in the job market. The job skills are used everywhere on LinkedIn to match you to job opportunities and probably also to rank your name in search. This is the reason why should go beyond the main 3 skills that are featured and fill up all 50 skills in order to increase your chances to be found.
Quick summary and current situation
The summary section is the place where you have the most creative liberty without breaking any unwritten rules. This is the alive section on your profile and will probably change frequently.
Some use this section to summarize their personal brand in a compact form. They prefer to keep it clean and not steal any attention from other sections on their profiles.
Others will take advantage of this opportunity and write a whole essay about their vision of the future.
Again, I do not think that there is a right or wrong here. It is a place where you can be yourself and others should be able to recognize it here.
I have used this section for a quick summary to contribute towards the image I am aiming at maintaining, however, I also use it to talk about my most recent developments.
Please note that you can also attach media files such as photos and videos now which will be very visible. This could be a great place to build in some personal branding attributes such as matching colors and photo material to complement the overall online brand of yours.