At the moment I am spending a significant portion of my time talking with clients, both on a 1:2:1 basis and in workshops and presentations, about LinkedIn. Now LinkedIn is THE social networking site, which any professional, senior or junior, must belong to if they want to take their career seriously or use their network to win business.

The success of LinkedIn revolves around three key factors – the quality of your LinkedIn profile, the quality of your connections and your activity on the site. In this blog post, I am going to focus on what to put in your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile performs several functions, but these all boil down to one thing:

It is your professional shop window into the world

Let me be clear on a couple of points of what your LinkedIn profile is not:

Your LinkedIn profile – your online CV?

Let me address the first point. Many people see LinkedIn as the place to go when you want to get a new job. The problem with most professional’s CV is that these are very bland documents that detail a very factual record of achievements and experiences. There is nothing wrong with this – however, if you think about the shops, businesses or individuals you really love working with or buying from, I’d bet it was also their personality that attracted you. Think about it, the Virgins, Innocent and Apples of this world, they all have a personality, which differentiates them from their rivals. What’s the difference between a Virgin and a BA? Very little technically I believe – but it is, well for me, the personality of Virgin compared to BA, which attracts me and makes me want to fly with Virgin rather than BA.

It’s the same with people – it makes it so much easier to contact someone if you feel you know them a bit. That’s why you need to make sure your LinkedIn profile is more than just your on-line CV, it needs to be your professional shop window into the world, which helps people ‘get’ what you are about and lets them get a sense of your personality as well as your professional persona. 

Selling and your LinkedIn profile.

As with any presence on social media, this is not a place to sell. For most people reading your LinkedIn profile, it is too early in their relationship with you for them to trust you enough to buy from them. It’s as Ivan Misner puts it ‘premature solicitation’ and can often have an adverse effect that you are intending; i.e. stop potential prospects from taking the next step and requesting a relationship with you. In a LinkedIn profile context, these three things would constitute selling:

For example, if you find yourself writing something, which is straight out of a marketing brochure, similar to this real person’s LinkedIn summary, then this is probably not going to help someone pick up the phone to talk to you:

“In a difficult world economic environment we are leading the way in adding value to large and small businesses by significantly reducing their costs, shaking out traditional thinking and operational processes and replacing them with social media methodologies that require far less time and expenditure”.??

This is pure sales copy. Where is the 1st person? The approachability?

"We also believe we have taken the best and most exciting elements of professional networking, combined them with the fantastic power of social media platforms and created the most innovative and rewarding business growth environment yet to be experienced by any business”

Pass me the bucket…

I think it is safe to say that if you write your LinkedIn summary as if it is a press release (like this person), it’s not going to come across as approachable or likeable… You have been warned!

Remember that if someone has clicked onto your LinkedIn profile, they want to get to know you first and foremost, and your company second.

My question to you is, after reading quotes from this person’s LinkedIn summary, how much do you get to know them, and do they appear likeable?

In your view, what other common mistakes do you see people making with their LinkedIn profile?