for your LinkedIn profile
Have you tried to « Google » your name recently? Try it and you will see! Your LinkedIn profile, if you have one, generally appears in the first 3 results. Needless to say, visitors are likely to carefully look at this page. To build a LinkedIn profile which reflects the image you wish to convey, here are a few tips based on the book « Digital You » by William Arruda, master of « personal branding », or the art of creating your professional online profile.
Improve your digital reputation
In the beginning, the LinkedIn platform made it possible to dematerialise a CV and to find a job. But it has become more than that for quite some time! In the words of Jill Rowley, social media expert, « LinkedIn is not just an online CV, it is your digital reputation ».
For William Arruda, LinkedIn can even be regarded as an agent, a graphic designer, a tool to check references, a contact manager, a search engine…all at once. In short, the perfect platform to make you known in the professional world.
As a matter of fact, in many circles, recruiters, potential partners or future managers will check your LinkedIn profile even before meeting you. This is particularly true in research and innovation. It is well known that « you will never get a second chance to make a good first impression. » Thus, it is crucial to carefully build your LinkedIn profile.
In a sense, this page is a complete (and free) showcase for your personal brand, meaning the image you wish to convey. To create a powerful profile, here are five elements you should focus on: your picture, the title of your profile, your summary, your skills and finally, your endorsements.
Put a face to the name
Your profile picture is one of the first elements people will see and it will allow them to put a face to your name. A frivolous or blurry holiday picture will give off the wrong impression. You should choose a photo taken especially for LinkedIn, and if possible by a professional photographer. This type of portrait immediately gives a sense of competence.
In any case, pay attention to the quality of the picture. Never use a selfie, make sure you are centred, and do not stage yourself. Look at the camera and do not forget to smile. Ron Gutman, co-founder of the HealthTap company, explains in a Ted conference on the hidden power of smiling that « when we smile, we don’t just appear friendlier and more courteous, but we are also viewed as more competent. »
Regarding image size, a profile picture must be 400 pixels wide and 400 pixels high. Keep in mind that it will be cut in a circle. Do not hesitate to crop it directly on LinkedIn so that your face occupies 70 to 80% of the image.
Find a motto
Do not keep your default title on LinkedIn, customize it! It must announce who you are, and why you make a difference. Only indicating your job title does not highlight your identity and skills. For example, if you write « PhD student » or « project manager » you immediately appear interchangeable with any other person with the same occupation. Be more specific: for example, indicate your field of expertise, if you are the author of a book on the subject, your company or your laboratory.
In addition to your occupation, mention the services you provide to your clients, your background, your skills…Use key words you wish to link to your digital identity. They will help you stand out in search results.
Describe yourself in a few words
The summary, or the « about » section of your profile, is the perfect place to tell your story and show your added value. Like the title, it is interesting to include key words you want to be associated with.
The difficulty lies in the fact that only the 2 or 3 first lines of the summary will be seen at first sight. You must therefore begin by using well chosen key words, which will make the reader want to click to read the rest. To hook web users, you can mention your passions, share the beginning of your professional history or even make a promise.
Show what you can do
To add even more credibility to your image, do not forget to enrich your profile through endorsements coming from people in your network. To that end, two sections are at your disposal on LinkedIn: the list of your skills and recommendations written by clients, colleagues, suppliers…
When you complete the « skills » section, you should know that the first three are immediately visible. You should therefore think carefully about which ones you want to highlight. For example, if you want to build a European research project, it is interesting to list some of your more transversal skills: project management, for example.
If you already listed your skills but they are not ranked in the best order, LinkedIn allows you to rearrange them any way you choose. Again, think of the image you want to convey depending on your future projects.
Highlight your qualities
Endorsements, on the other hand, can certify your human and professional qualities. That is why you should not hesitate to put humility aside and solicit your clients and collaborators.
Of course, to make sure a recommendation is useful, it should not include nonsense or come from just anybody. The best endorsement you can get is that of someone who is respected in your professional circle or that of your clients and which supports the qualities you want to highlight.
William Arruda recommends that you do not use LinkedIn to ask for an endorsement. It is better to send an email directly to the person concerned. In addition to being more personal, your email is more likely to be read. LinkedIn notifications tend however to be ignored. It would be a pity if your request was lost!
Select the right parameters
In short, to have a LinkedIn profile that inspires trust, highlights your skills and qualities, there are five elements that you should carefully work on first: your picture, the title of your profile, your summary, your skills and endorsements.
And, if you still have some time, put your graphic designer skills to good use! As you will have seen, you can take advantage of the banner beside your picture to add visuals, text…it is the ideal place to display your artistic side.
Be careful though, before modifying your profile, you should disable the notifications seen by your network by changing the « settings » of your account. If you don’t, your contacts will be notified every time you make a change, however small. It would be a shame to spoil all your efforts, would it not?
Finally, if reading this article made you want to find out more about personal branding, visit your favorite book shop and get a copy of “Digital You: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age” to discover the valuable advice of William Arruda.