LinkedIn Series – Pillar 1: Your Identity


LinkedIn is fast becoming the professional network to be involved in. Like many social platforms, LinkedIn similarly sees the 1% internet rule play out on a daily basis and, as I mentioned in my Influencer article, many of the people within the network simply peruse content. That said, many wish to do so much more.

However, for them, the leap from having a profile to curating, let alone producing, content is enormous and one fraught with fear of ‘getting it wrong’. LinkedIn is a case of walking before they run as LinkedIn (or most ‘networks’) is based on 3 pillars:

  1. Your Identity
  2. Your Community
  3. Your Content

The reality is, the best content in the world will have very little cut through if you don’t have an audience, a community, who sees it, values it, interacts with and shares it. Similarly, as your content usually comes with the weight of your opinion, your identity is equally important. This is what builds your credibility, reliability, intimacy and aligned interest with your community. This is why they listen to you and value what you say.

This is the first in a series of the ‘3 Pillars Of LinkedIn’ – focusing on Pillar One: Your Profile. In short, your identity is the foundation on which your LinkedIn presence is built. For all, time spent crafting a professional LinkedIn profile is time very well spent. Whether simply for your career or through to lead generation or insight sharing and discussion. It all starts with your profile.

Thankfully, your profile set up on LinkedIn is quite simple – however optimising it so it can become a useful tool requires a bit of strategic thinking and some regular but brief moments of attention. We’ll work through this below.

Hint: If you are going to be adjusting your profile – head to the Settings>Privacy>Share Profile Edits area and turn this off.  This will prevent your network receiving a stream of updates as you adjust items in your profile if you don’t want them to. 

To edit your profile – following this handy guide from LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile Help

Hint: It is often easier to create and edit your content in Word or similar first, and then cut and paste across to the relevant sections in LinkedIn.  

Claim your Profile URL

When you first create a profile – LinkedIn will provide you with a generated URL (the address in the browser bar). Often it will look something like this –

This isn’t a very memorable URL – but you can, and should, change it.  Ideally it should look something like –

Whilst this provides a cleaner looking URL and may appear to have marginal value – it does look tidier in the situations where you do need to paste a link to your profile and does show to those with a trained eye that you have curated your profile. Also, it literally take 30 seconds to do.

How do you do it?

Choose the right profile picture for LinkedIn

You are 11 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a picture. Having a picture is largely mandatory these days.

At the very least, when meeting people for the first time, it allows you (and them) to have an idea of who to look for.

Choosing the right photo is important for your profile – but what photo do you use? You should ensure:

  • the picture is recent and looks like you
  • it is primarily a head shot
  • it reflects you professionally at work (e.g. business attire), and
  • You smile!

This article on how to pick the right profile picture on LinkedIn provides some good tips on which to choose. Here is another good article – Best Photo For LinkedIn.

What should you avoid? Check out these articles: 7 Profile Picture Types To Avoid & 10 Worst Types of Profile Pictures.

For a laugh – have a look at this – Handbook To Pictures

Personalise your headline

Increasingly, people are using the headline field to be a bit more creative about what they do and, importantly, why they do it. Sure, your headline could mirror your job title precisely – but there is no rule that it should (as often your formal title is listed under your ‘Experience’). There are some very entertaining, descriptive and creative headlines in LinkedIn – though they still retain a professional edge.

Here is a great article on headlines on Linkedin – Please Change Your Linkedin Headline.

Want to see some cringe-worthy headlines (yes, at one point in time, someone actually used these) – Cringe Worthy LinkedIn Headlines.

Struggling to write one or want some inspiration? Here is an article on how to write an effective headline – Writing An Effective Headline.

Remember, your photo and headline are the two things people see when they search for you in LinkedIn! They are what leave the first, and often most indelible, impression.

Add your own background photo

The background photo is the image at the top of your profile. Retaining the stock photo can convey an image that you haven’t been overly attentive to your profile – so changing it is a beneficial step to creating a professional profile.

It helps personalise your page, grab people’s attention, and makes your profile more memorable. It also allows you to choose an image which is aligned to you, your role, function etc.

The recommended size is 1400×425 pixels and searching for ‘LinkedIn Background Photo’ in Google will usually return an abundance of images which you can then refine your search from.

LinkedIn Backgrounds is a good article to have a look at around changing your background image.

Use your summary effectively

This is quite an important part of your profile as it is personal to you. Whilst two people can have the same role, your summary is where you get to paint a picture to make yourself stand out from the crowd

Try to provide a narrative where you bring to life the answer to the question – who do I help and how do I help them? Do take the time to craft it yourself rather than copy from a job description or another person’s profile (though searching others for inspiration is fine!).

Summary Examples is a good article on how to write a personalised summary for your profile. If you wish to use bullet points – here is an article that helps – Bullet Points – or simply ‘hold ALT + press 0149 (on number pad)’.

Hint: Don’t write in the 3rd person! 

Note: Watch out for ‘buzzwords’

When you are using buzzwords (words that you need to show people you are to prove it) – be careful. Words like ‘guru’ or ‘awesome’ are subjective. These words can become meaningless when littered throughout a profile and, importantly, can make people feel you want to be, rather than are, these attributes. Use them sparingly if at all.

Don’t forget your contact and personal info

So many people forget this (right hand bar of your profile page) or don’t update it – even the best profiles. What is the point in having a great profile if no one can reach you! Do ensure you fill this out and update it when changes are required. This is your call to action.

Here’s how to edit your contact information: Edit Contact Info .

Hint: This is often a great place to pick up other people’s contact information.

Remember your relevant skills

You can search, identify and add skills relevant to you and your role on your profile. These are often where your network can also endorse (ratify) these skills, or even suggest new ones for you entirely.

Do remember that it is a balancing act between being a mile wide and inch deep, or an inch deep and a mile wide. Regularly review, add news skills, and delete those which are no longer relevant. A metaphor is – 20 years ago a sales feature on a new car was power windows, now it is expected. Treat your skills the same way.

Here is how to add/remove skills from your profile: Add/Remove Skills.

Here is a good article on why skills matter: Why Skills Matter.

Add experience, education and volunteer work

This is where you complete information around your work history, education and any volunteer work. Most of us are familiar with this as it is similar to that which we include in our resumes.

With your experience and volunteer work – do remember to include a narrative of what the job entails and, especially, your key achievements. Also, be concise where possible.

Here is a good article on completing the Experience Section – Your Experience Section On LinkedIn.

Here is how to add, edit or remove a position on your profile.

Adjust your settings

There are some key settings in LinkedIn which are worth digging in to. Here is a good article on what settings you should look at on your profile.

Some you should consider are:

  • Sharing Profile Edits – if you regularly maintain your profile, or are setting it up for the first time (or refreshing it), your connections will receive a notification of your update each time a change is made. It is recommended that you turn this function off (see first hint on page 1 for instructions on how to do this) ß important first step!
  • Followers – decide who can and can’t see your activity feed. If you change this to ‘Connections’ – only they will be able to follow you and no one else.
  • Who Can See Your Connections – review who you want to be able to see your connections.
  • Review Profile Viewing Options – this determines what people see when you search their profile – from fully anonymous to full profile (I recommend ‘full profile’).
  • Two-step Verification – turn this on via ‘settings and privacy’ on a desktop. Go to Privacy/Security. This sends a 6 digit code to your chosen mobile when a new log on is detected to prevent your profile from be hacked remotely.

Add media & publications < optional but recommended

You can also add media to your profile including – images, videos, documents and presentations – within various sections. Here is a great article on why you should consider adding media to your profile.   Video in particular is fact becoming the go to medium for sharing content. Where you have relevant and useful information, media that supports your profile, or if you’ve been published or contributed to publications – there is a section on LinkedIn where you can outline this too. These provide a fantastic opportunity to example your acumen, create a dynamic profile for people, and provide an opportunity for others to learn more about you.

Here is how to add, edit or remove media and here is how to add, edit or remove publications.

Keep Your Profile Current

Probably the single most important step! You aren’t static – so neither is your profile.

Over time you will have the opportunity to add, delete or change content based on accomplishments, changes in your role, promotions, and other activities. Ensure you make a habit of regularly reviewing your profile and, where appropriate, remembering to add key things as they occur (especially job changes etc which have a material impact on your network).

Download LinkedIn App!

Last thing to do is to download the mobile app. This allows you to keep LinkedIn in your pocket – review your newsfield in the micro-periods of down time during the day, complete some last minute research on someone you are about to meet, share relevant content with your network quick, communicate with connections and largely everything you can do on the browser URL.

Profile Set Up Checklist

✔ URL personalised

✔ Profile Photo loaded

✔ Headline completed

✔ Background Photo customised

✔ Summary completed

✔ Contact Info completed

✔ Experience, Education and Volunteer Work added as appropriate

✔ Settings & Privacy checked

✔ Downloaded the mobile phone app

✔ Diarised time to review your profile regularly

✔ Language (spelling, grammar etc) checked

✔ Skills added as you see appropriate

✔ Media & Publications loaded

In the next article, Pillar 2: Your Community, we’ll talk about how to build and manage an effective community within LinkedIn.

If you would enjoy a PDF copy of this Profile Guide – feel free to contact me and I will send one to you

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to share it through your network, like it and even comment with your views (in agreement, opposition or interpretation of mine) and, of course, try some of the concepts out if you haven’t already. I endeavour to produce content regularly so you are welcome to read some of my prior articles and/or follow me. Finally, feel free to reach out if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

Mā te wā, Dan


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