How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile for 2023

LinkedIn continues to be the number one platform for B2B networking, offering profile numerous configuration elements that are often criminally underutilized. We are sharing some of the core areas to focus on when looking to establish a great LinkedIn profile.

Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Profile Picture

Your profile picture is the first thing people will see when it comes to your profile. It's your introduction to your professional brand, so a lot of first impressions will be based on it. You want to ensure that your picture is clear and faithful, meaning it should be recent, and it should show how you currently look. Wear professional attire (whatever "professional" means in your field of work), and make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the picture. The pixel size for your LinkedIn profile photo is between 400 (w) x 400 (h) pixels and 7680 (w) x 4320 (h) pixels. The recommendation is to add a photo that won't require much cropping. LinkedIn specifies the file type to be PNG or JPG.

Background Photo

Your background photo is one of the most critical parts of the first impression you leave on whoever visits your profile after your profile picture. Just as with your profile picture, you want your background picture to be clear and stand out. However, you want to avoid redundancy between your profile picture and your background picture - each image serves its function, and you would be wasting potential by having both of them cover the same thing. Avoid having just another neutral picture of yourself as your background. If you want to feature in your background picture, make sure you choose an image that displays you doing something relevant to your work or your brand (attending an event, receiving an award, or just working hard in the office are good examples).

You can also have your background photo be a way to add flavor to your profile. Say, for example, you are the creator of a meditation app for mobile. On your personal LinkedIn profile, you could have a peaceful, calming landscape photo, matching your LinkedIn profile's tone with that of the service you are providing. Background photos are the perfect opportunity to complement neutral elements of your LinkedIn profile (profile picture, CV, description, etc.) with more personal and colorful details.

Make sure to follow the LinkedIn background image requirements, formatted as JPG, PNG, or GIF with an ideal size of 1584 x 386 pixels.

"Both your LinkedIn Profile Picture and your Background Photo should paint the picture of how you look in your work environment, working with or for your viewers."

LinkedIn Profile Headline

The LinkedIn headline is that section under your name in your LinkedIn profile;  it shows, together with your profile picture, everywhere you show up, in the “People You May Know” section, LinkedIn searches, LinkedIn job applications, posts, messages, recommendations, and even invitations to connect.

The headline is an often neglected opportunity in LinkedIn profiles. You have 120 characters available in that field, make use of all of them. You want to include relevant keywords and attract professionalism and power words to encourage an emotional connection.

It's common to see a headline just be a job title - you want to avoid this. Headlines are a great way to address visitors directly. You don't want to simply describe yourself and your occupation in a neutral tone. Address the viewer directly and attract their attention. In many ways, headlines on LinkedIn follow the same rules as meta descriptions used in SEO.  Avoid unnecessary symbols or the use of only uppercase letters.

LinkedIn Profile Summary

Your LinkedIn Profile summary is the text that appears at the top of your LinkedIn profile, the "About" section. It's a place, limited to 2,000 characters, where you can tell people about yourself in your own words, without the aim of making this your CV.

Whether you use it to put career choices in context, highlight your biggest achievements, or show off your personality, the summary is your chance to put your best self out there. It strengthens your first impression in a way no other Profile section can. There are several ways you can tell a story in your summary; consider the following elements in your summary:

  • Connect with the reader on a personal and professional level
  • Convey your passion for the work you do
  • Tell your story, the journey you followed to get to where you are - through struggles, accomplishments, and maybe even mistakes you made
  • Keep things down to earth and simple - it's your story, not a fairy tale
  • Showcase your skills, competencies, motivations, and work ethic
  • Put your career path and aspirations in context: your past, present, and future

A powerful Linkedin profile summary should be curated and show your dedication, so don't hesitate to take extra time writing one (or multiple), showing them to colleagues for feedback, and testing iterations on your profile.

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Buzzwords, don't use them

LinkedIn published the following ten words as being the most common in marketers’ LinkedIn profiles:

  • Specialized
  • Experienced
  • Leadership
  • Skilled
  • Passionate
  • Expert
  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Strategic
  • Successful

These words are considered buzzwords, overused, and starting to lose their meaning. If you see the word "strategic" on every single LinkedIn profile somewhere, that either means that it has little value, since everyone is apparently "strategic" (or dishonest?). Ultimately, these buzzwords lose their gravity.

Powerwords are typically used to emphasize, but since they have become so basic and ubiquitous, they achieve the exact opposite.

They're not words you should never use and delete from your vocabulary, but you should be careful not to utilize them as your punch lines or your points of emphasis. Instead of using "Passionate" and "Focused," you could use "driven" or "ferociously determined."

Just using the right words isn't enough, however. If you use buzzwords (or synonyms for them), the best way to convince your reader that you're using those words to describe yourself legitimately is by demonstrating those qualities. If you call yourself an "Expert," make sure to include all the qualifications that make you use that word.

Skills List

Listing skills list on LinkedIn seems pretty straightforward, right? Just scroll through the skills, and if you have one, add it in. After taking a nice profile picture, having carefully picked your background photo, written an excellent summary and headline, and eliminating all buzzwords, how hard could filling in a skills list be?

That's where people miss an opportunity to stand out. People have many skills, and it can be tempting to list all of them on your LinkedIn profile. The problem is you only have so much space on your profile before it gets too long, and so much time your visitors will spend on your page to waste with a long list of skills.

Keep your skills list focused and relevant to the network you are looking to interact with.

Maybe you have a lot of interior design experience from past work. However, if your job and current career path are within content marketing,  your interior design skills are likely less relevant, unless you are exploring content marketing for interior design firms.

In addition to your subject matter expertise, consider adding some "soft skills" as well. According to LinkedIn, here are some of the top-demanded soft skills:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional Intelligence 

Among analytical and data-centered hard skills, here are LinkedIn's most in-demand skills:

  • Blockchain
  • Cloud Computing
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • UX Design
  • Business Analysis
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Sales
  • Scientific Computing
  • Video Production

Condense your skills into the few most relevant and most attractive ones for people in your field who would be visiting your profile.

Growing your network

Your LinkedIn profile alone is the necessary foundation to stand out, it is only the foundation, though. Now it is time to put it to use and begin growing and interacting with your network 

  • Have you added your email address book to your contacts and contacted relevant individuals to connect with you on LinkedIn as well? It's quick, and it's so useful. Here’s a guide by LinkedIn on how to do it.
  • Consider promoting your LinkedIn profile on other social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
  • Include a Call to Action to connect on LinkedIn in your email signature or online business card.
  • Make it a habit and bring your LinkedIn profile into everyday networking conversations. Whether it's at the end of a meeting or a conference or an event, imagine your LinkedIn profile as the online version of your business card. If you're handing a business card to someone, you should also try to connect with them on LinkedIn.

 

Endorsing others

Endorsements are a great way to boost someone's credibility and reputation on LinkedIn. You should be aiming to obtain endorsements from your peers and connections. Not only does it give legitimacy to your CV and skills, it also affects LinkedIn's search algorithm. More endorsements rank higher in LinkedIn's algorithm than fewer endorsements.

As you cannot endorse your own profile, you can "pay it forward" and treat others the way you want to be treated. Give people in your network the endorsements they deserve. This is not "helping your competition"; it is being helpful and supporting your network and will eventually pay its rewards in the future. You should be treating endorsements as genuine compliments, which can help you down the line.

Endorsing others may encourage them to endorse a few individuals themselves, and you may be one of those people. Overall, you want to be engaging in endorsement culture because it's a win-win for you.

Positivity breeds positivity.

If you don't have anything positive to say about the individuals in your network, are you in the right network?

 

Managing Endorsements

Over time, when doing things right, you should start to see endorsements coming your way.

Endorsements can become overwhelming, however. If you have too many of them, they can clutter your page and dilute the areas you want to focus on in favor of others. Endorsements are also very uncurated, unfortunately. Endorsers aren't required to have verified skills in whatever they are endorsing, and they aren't limited to endorsing skills that you list yourself.

To avoid or at least control this, you can manage your endorsements by manually choosing which ones appear on your profile and which ones don't. You should be as relevant as you can with your endorsement management; see the above topics on buzzwords and skills.

 

Taking Skills Assessments

Skills assessments are tests you can take online that let you display your skills' range and quality, coupled with a valuable verified badge on LinkedIn.

A verified badge is an excellent addition to your profile. It boosts your desirability for employers by about 30% when compared to people without verified skills.

There’s a wide variety of skills you can assess: Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Premier, programming languages, etc. Once you get assessed in a skill, LinkedIn also offers you a set of courses to help you progress even further, adding even more upsides to taking the assessment!

If you fail any tests since you can retake tests whenever you want, and you can choose to display the results of your tests when passed; there's no downside to this.  More important than the badge on your profile, you learn something along the way.

Take LinkedIn Skills Assessments

Requesting Recommendations

Recommendations are a more in-depth version of endorsements. Endorsements are quick, easy, and show brief signs of support. Recommendations are long-form pieces written by individuals in your network to describe interactions with you, working with or for you.

They can be extremely valuable, especially if coming from people who are respected in your network. If a high-profile client, past employer or leader in your space writes a recommendation for you and your business, you have a surefire way to positively impact prospective customers or employers, torn between choosing you or someone else. 

Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

Be proactive about reaching out. LinkedIn offers a convenient menu in the Recommendations tab where you can reach out to your contacts and ask them for recommendations. When sending requests, personalize your message so that the person receiving it doesn't feel like you're just here to get a recommendation and disappear. Make sure the request is honest and is deserved.

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Displaying Your Willingness to Learn

LinkedIn is a great place to display your accomplishments and experience through your CV, endorsements, and recommendations. It's also a great place to show how you're still a work-in-progress, a student of life who is going through a process of never-ending improvement and hasn't grown complacent and stagnant after years of gathering experience. Displaying this quality will reassure your potential clients and employers that you're striving to keep up to date with the skills your industry is developing and demanding.

LinkedIn Learning is a great place to start. It offers courses taught by industry professionals in several areas - business, marketing, creativity, software development, etc. Completing a course also gives you a certificate which you can choose to display on your profile.

It's especially valuable to display the most recently added certificates to show that you are just as passionate about learning as you are about working.

Sharing Valuable Content

Quality content, text, audio, and video serve as additional means to legitimize the things you are working on. If you have a flyer showing your business's progress over the last twelve months, then why not put it on display (assuming you are not disclosing confidential information)? It'll boost your legitimacy as a member of a great team, and it'll serve as a badge of success.

If you're producing quality collateral you can leverage and use to market your or your firm's capabilities, you should think about sharing it on your LinkedIn profile.

Your marketing collateral also helps people understand what your business is about, in addition to a simple CV or job description. It's there for people who want to know more after you've nailed your first impression with them.

If you're confident that you're offering a service or product of high value, then your marketing content will help you highlight that and make it look even better.

Comment More

Posting and sharing things on LinkedIn is a great place to start, but don't stop there. Comments are a great way to add a bit more character to your posts and shares on LinkedIn. When sharing a piece of content, if you add a comment explaining why you think something is worth sharing, it'll increase your value as a poster on people's feeds.

Sometimes it is hard to tell why content is being shared. Is this your work? Is this something you look up to? Is it something you think is worth a discussion? What purpose does your share serve?

Adding a simple one-to-two-sentence comment and/or a question can quickly answer some of these questions or encourage sharing additional perspectives.

With less ambiguity, you increase the likelihood of people enjoying what you share and seeing you on their feeds. Instead of just silently sharing, you're now giving more direction to your profile activity and increasing the chance of others also commenting on your posts. Just like any other social media platform, engagement is good. It shows that people value your activity enough to interact with it, take time out of their busy schedule and add a quick response or question to you.

Following Influencers

LinkedIn has influencers with a huge following and a great deal of impact on the content and people their followers are exposed to.

Identify influencers who are relevant in your industry and connect with them or follow them. They are, in many ways, trendsetters of your industry. New and important things happening will catch their attention, and discussions they jump on will gain a lot of traction almost immediately, given the reach your influencers have.

Figuring out the patterns of what influencers are interested in may help you get on their radar. It's not likely that you'll get a share from them initially, but that's not what you should be aiming for, anyway. If you mould your content creation around what industry trendsetters are interested in (influencers being one of them), then your content will perform better on LinkedIn.

Following critical influencers also lets your profile visitors know what you're interested in and adds another layer of depth to your profile, demonstrating that you are interested in your industry and trends as a whole.

Becoming an Employee Advocate

Employee advocacy is when employees of a business promote the business and its contributions. This can take the form of sharing details about products or services the business provides or discussing its culture. Boosting a company's branding, employee endorsements are seen as much more credible than often self-aggrandizing statements from a senior executive or owner.

Interestingly, being an employee advocate is also beneficial to the employees themselves. Saying good things about a company you are currently working with or have worked for in the past, is a great thing to have on your LinkedIn profile. It lets potential employers know that you're a credible and critical employee - you're not just having a job but care about your work environment. It also allows you to position yourself as an expert in your current field and industry, setting yourself and your employer apart from other companies in the industry, and showcasing your knowledge and your ability to assess work environments critically.

If you're an employee, it's in your interest to start promoting employers you believe deserve it. If you're an employer, then you should encourage your employees to look into employee advocacy, showing the benefit to all involved.

The "My Company" tab, a successor of the retired LinkedIn Elevate function, is offering organizations on LinkedIn a trusted, employee-only space to help them join the conversations that matter most.

Write an Article - Publishing Long-Form Content

Look at how people engage with your LinkedIn activity - what areas attract the most interest? What topics are the most conducive to discussion and engagement in general? Getting traction and reactions, going beyond publishing links and short posts, you can and should start contributing articles, and posting long-form content about those key topics based on shares and comments. Engagement from your connections reflects a desire to see more out of whatever content you are posting, and long-form content is the next big step in that direction. Long-form content is where you really want to start conversations.

Write an Article

All members and admins (super admins or content admins) of a LinkedIn Page have the ability to publish articles about their expertise and interests. Articles are displayed in the Activity section of your profile. It’s shared with your connections and followers in their news feeds, and sometimes through notifications. Articles can be shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Articles should be educational, informative, and not salesy and should aim for engagement, comments and shares. Don't forget to respond to comments and keep the conversation going, now that you've started it!

 

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Takin
Takin
In addition to having a passion for writing, Toronto-based Takin is working on his academic career in Philosophy. He can also play the piano and sing in French.

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