Cracking the #LinkedIn Profile Code


LinkedIn PR Secrets“What’s LinkedIn?” That is a question asked by many college students, including my summer intern. Gasp! As a matter of fact, I surveyed 150 students in my social media management class at the University of Florida and only 52% of junior and senior college students surveyed actually had an active LinkedIn profile, while 95% had a Facebook account and 88% are active on Instagram.

To help my students grasp the necessity of creating a magnetic LinkedIn profile, I called in the experts. With his picture-perfect LinkedIn profile, Jabez LeBret, Chief Innovation Officer at Get Noticed Get Found (GNGF), shared his Social PR Secrets of optimizing personal LinkedIn profiles to make them stand out. As with his advice on optimizing LinkedIn Company Pages, he did not disappoint!

The LinkedIn reality: People think LinkedIn is a static place to post a resume but, as the indisputable top professional networking tool, emphasis on networking, it is so much more than that! Yes, it’s predominantly professional, but that doesn’t make it any less “fun” than the other social networks. In fact, it opens doors to become even more social with top professionals you might not get to interact with on the other networks.

It’s time to go beyond the advantages of using LinkedIn for your company and get it to work for you by building up your personal profile in a professional way that sells y-o-u.

Social PR Secret: If you’re good at optimizing and being active on your personal profile, you can list LinkedIn as a skill and, for social media managers, that is not a bad skill to have!

Jabez says a complete profile is the most important thing you have on LinkedIn as an incomplete profile may give hiring managers the impression that you’re lazy. So keep these 4 P’s of LinkedIn profiles in mind while completing your profile!

Follow the 4 P’s of LinkedIn Profiles

  • Personalize it.
  • Make it professional.
  • Keep up with progress.
  • Start publishing.

1. Personalize Your Profile and Background Image

While your qualifications will set you apart, personalizing your profile with an accurately sized background image and professional headshot will make you more memorable.

As far as your profile picture is concerned, the word professional doesn’t mean taken by an award-winning photographer. In this case it means no selfies, just you in the photo (no cats or arms around friends), just a clean and simple picture so people can see your face. Jabez recommends cropping to no lower than just below your shoulders because, aside from your profile, everywhere else your photo appears on LinkedIn the image is a small thumbnail.  And don’t forget about the added touch of a background image, the equivalent of other social networks cover image. The background image gives you an even more enhanced way to brand yourself with a dynamic visual.

Lisa Buyer LinkedIn Cover Photo

Social PR Secret: Don’t make the mistake of uploading a profile image that is too fun, spammy, random or sexy. Remember LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, not the world’s largest cocktail party or sporting event.


2. Make Your Profile Professional

While you can and should represent yourself on LinkedIn, this is not the place to post Instagram photos of your latest meal. Be the person you are in an interview or on the job.

Start with a great headline! Jabez stresses the importance of packing your headline because it follows you around LinkedIn when you participate in discussions and other areas. It’s your first marketing touchpoint and gives you the opportunity to tell others who you are before they even click through to your profile. Here’s Jabez’s beneath his name. Notice how it gives his position, explains what he does, includes a personal factoid and some of his proud accomplishments.

jabez lebret good linkedin headlines

Social PR Secret: Don’t say in your headline that you’re looking for a job. In fact, don’t say it ever. You’re “between opportunities.” – Jabez LeBret

Another hint Jabez dropped to keep your profile professional was to write your summary in the 3rd person. As he put it, “Don’t write in the 1st person. Don’t sound like an a-hole.” (Thanks for censoring!)

3. Keep Up With Progress

This step is pretty simple but the hard part is once you get behind it can be hard to catch up. Schedule some time in your social PR calendar to check on your LinkedIn weekly.

Examine the communities you’ve joined and look for new ones that pique your interests. If a community is dying down or you don’t actively participate in it, cut it. More importantly, add new communities that are very active and cater to your niche. Don’t just join 10 and be done with it. Social is a living, breathing organism and is constantly offering new opportunities.

As you acquire new skills or learn new things on the job, update your skills section. While the endorsements don’t really help you, they do look good and you never know when someone will be searching for a specific skill you have.

Recommendations are where LinkedIn can really help you out. If hiring managers are looking at various profiles and contacting leads, they can gain a lot of insight from 3rd party endorsements. Try to have at least five to start with. Recommendations take a while to accumulate but they will appear over time. Talk to people you’ve interned for or with, classmates you’ve collaborated on relevant projects with, etc. After you get those five, the best way to keep growing your recommendations is to write them. Most people will return the favor, especially if you reach out to them and ask. Make it a goal to write at least one or two recommendations weekly.

4. Start Publishing on LinkedIn

Jabez claims the LinkedIn publishing platform is the biggest opportunity right now for getting reach and being an early adopter can only benefit you. And Jabez should know! His article “Why I’m Leaving You Facebook” gave him a lot of insights on the subject that he was wonderful to share with us! The network is in the process of rolling this feature so you should receive an email invite when you’re able to publish long-form posts and you’ll see a pencil icon in the share box at the top of your homepage. Brands can’t publish yet but individuals can and should interact with the platform to get exposure, followers, and build relationships.

The Facebook breakup letter was Jabez’s first published piece on LinkedIn and explains how he is fed up with Facebook as a personal user constantly being tested on. And what better way to say “I’m out of here Facebook” than on LinkedIn?

Here’s what he learned:

  • He had 4,000 views and 400 shares, giving him a share rate of 10 percent, not bad!
  • His followers grew from two to nearly 3,000 with just one article! So 75 percent of people who read that article followed him!

This success rate may be hard to duplicate with every article but if you have great content that people are interested in, there’s no telling how far publishing on LinkedIn can take you!

So there you have it, the 4 P’s of building a stand-out LinkedIn profile and the benefits of self-publishing on LinkedIn. I hope all of Jabez’s LinkedIn insights have inspired you to login and make some changes today! Don’t worry if you forgot your password, there’s a retrieval system. Happy updating!

Image Credit: Death to the Stock Photo


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