Social Media, Startup Advice

Four steps to creating an outstanding LinkedIn profile

Nina Anderson /

There are now more than 500 million people on LinkedIn, which makes your profile more important than ever. It also means your personal brand is your ticket to being noticed in a very crowded marketplace.

Yet most profiles I come across — yes, even the CEOs and business leaders — are pretty average and fail to be distinctive or communicate value.

So I thought I’d share some tips on what you can do to strengthen your personal brand by creating a seriously good profile.

First up, I want you to think about your LinkedIn profile as a one-page brochure or capability statement. It’s a marketing document or tool and therefore needs to look like one.

1. Professional summary

Your summary is the single most important thing you can do for your profile. It is more often than not the only thing people read, and it’s certainly the first.

A summary should be no more than 300 words and should sum up your experience, skills, and the business outcomes you have achieved. Aim to put these into quantifiable rather than general terms and be really clear about what you’ve done so that people can visualise this.

If you can write well, then you should be able to do this. However, if your writing skills are not as good as say, your accounting skills, then get some help — it will pay dividends.

2. Professional photo

A photo from a pub/party/BBQ/wedding, or one with someone else’s head cut out, does not present a professional image and will do more damage to your brand than you may believe. Remember first impressions count, so invest in having a professional photo taken. 

3. A “complete” profile

Your LinkedIn profile is not your CV, despite the constant requests from LinkedIn to add more information. So when it comes to ‘completing’ your profile, think “date me, before you marry me” and leave a bit of mystery for the meeting.

‘Less is more’ is also good practice from a privacy perspective, so avoid the trap of putting all your career information in here. A few lines per role is plenty and if it was a long time ago, don’t bother with a description.

4. Background image

If you want to stand out, personalise your banner. It creates the ultimate first impression and with the right image can act like a billboard for your personal brand.

I’m on a mission to get as many people away from those awful blue dots connecting to other dots. I get the aim of the picture is to be about networking, but they don’t say anything about you, and they certainly don’t make your LinkedIn profile unique or distinctive.

This is about putting an image to your personal brand and it’s really simple to change.

Create one for free or $1 on Canva, or upload a photo of something that inspires you or is work related.

I often encourage clients to put up photos of events they been a speaker at or a picture of something that relates to their work such as innovation, logistics, or working in teams, as these work really well to tie a brand together.

Don’t be shy about having a highly visible personal brand. It’s a big asset, so let it do some of the hard work for you. Be brave and step into the light.

Read more: Try these eight tips to get more people reading your LinkedIn posts

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Nina Anderson

Nina Anderson is a communications strategist and the founder and principal of Anderson Advisory.

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