In our last post, I talked about how to generate more referrals on LinkedIn. One key component to that strategy is a strong LinkedIn profile.

Your profile is a duplication of you. It represents your brand and it will help you do a better job marketing yourself and your business. Please understand that a complete profile is very important and ranks higher in LinkedIn’s search results however with so many different sections, which ones will allow you to be more effective? From working with several clients these past few months, here are the four sections of your LinkedIn Profile that matter most:

#1 – Your Headline

When potential customers scroll through LinkedIn, the very first thing they see in a long list of people is your Photo and Headline. These things should make them want to click to your full Profile.

Your Headline is the slogan for your brand, so don’t just use your company title or position. What do you offer to your clients? Come up with something original that describes what you actually do and differentiates you from your competitors.

This is also a great place to include a few key words for search engine optimization (SEO). However, it’s best to be brief — though you can use a maximum of 120 characters, your headline will be cut off after 80 characters in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” mode on LinkedIn.

 #2 – Your Headshot

It is always easier to deal with someone face-to-face — even when interacting online. People do business with people they like, know and trust.  LinkedIn members with profile photos receive approximately 14 times more profile views than those without. Don’t just use your company’s logo when a good, professional photo of you can go a long way toward building your client’s trust.

This is also your future clients’ first impression of you! Use a quality camera and good lighting, or ideally have your photograph professionally taken. You have to show your potential clients that quality is important to you. In addition, make sure you present the right image in your photo. A great tip is to practice your expression in the mirror beforehand to make sure you look professional, open, competent; and please make sure you smile.

The next step after you have a great headshot is to add a background banner image. The more visual your profile is, the better.

#3 – Your Summary

Your Summary is where you define your brand and position yourself as an expert in your field. This section of your profile is also the first personal interaction you have with potential customers, so you want to make it count.

This section is your chance to show a bit of personality in addition to your qualifications and skills. What differentiates you from the competition? Make it clear to your potential customers why they should choose to work with you. It’s important that you tell your reader a short story that showcases you, your company and what it does.

Think about these questions:

  • How did you develop your business and what are your goals for it?
  • Who have you helped in the past, and how?
  • What can you offer to a potential client?

Any case study of how you helped a past client is helpful as well. In addition, you want to include bullet points of some of your key specialties that you would like anyone to focus on when they skim through your summary. Think of keywords that will improve your visibility in LinkedIn and Google searches, and make sure your reader comes away from your summary knowing who you are, what you can do, and how you can help them.

Definitely make it easy to read and keep it concise (300-500 characters).
The most important question you should ask yourself is what key points do I want anyone to know if they spend just 10 seconds on my profile?

 #4 – Your Recommendations

Just as reviews can sometimes make or break a restaurant, LinkedIn recommendations are a great selling point for potential customers or partners viewing your profile. People don’t want to hear how good you say you are — they want to see those claims justified. Your recommendations provide word-of-mouth proof of your skills and your ability to deliver results.

When asking for recommendations, pick people thoughtfully. Gather a well-rounded set up perspectives by asking colleagues, employers, and customers. Send each person a personalized message through the “Ask to be Recommended” feature on LinkedIn, and consider guiding them in a specific direction. For example, if there was a particular project or event you worked on with a colleague where you showcased key skills for your business, suggest that they mention that in their recommendation. It will make your recommender’s task that much easier and will ensure that you get a quality review. As in all other things, remember to show your gratitude afterwards with a thank-you message or phone call.

It’s very important that you remember not to ask for too many recommendations at once. Recommendations are time-stamped, so your potential clients will notice if yours are all from the same time period. You want your recommendations to appear genuine and organic, which can only be achieved by accumulating them gradually. I normally recommend that you put a list of 10-12 past clients or colleagues and once a month you send one of them a recommendation request, by the end of the year, you’ll have at least 1 recommendation per month.  As in the real world, there is no shortcut to building a reputation, so take the time to do this right and your profile will be that much stronger as a result.


For more information about building your LinkedIn Profile to promote your business, you are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at: [email protected]

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

By Julbert Abraham & Marie Yatsyk

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