When you meet your client for the first time, chances are that you’ve taken every precaution necessary to make the best first impression.
You’ve got one of your best suits on.
Your shoes don’t have a trace of dirt on them.
You’ve got your proposal ready.
You’re on your A-game.
But when the online world means that your first encounter with your client is on platforms like LinkedIn, how do you go about making the best first impression possible?
How do you make sure that your profile exudes professionalism, know-how, and garners interest from the right people?
How to make the best first impression on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful platforms out there... if you can harness its power.
Here’s the key: LinkedIn is not about you. It’s about how you can help your potential clients or employers.
To help you put your best foot forward, we’ve concocted an easy 3-step plan for you to show potential clients and even possible employers that you’re exactly what they’re looking for.
Step 1: Getting The Basics Down
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make sure that you’ve mastered those LinkedIn basics.
When it comes to the basics, you’re going to want to make sure that all your crucial information is at the forefront of your page. And you’re also going to want to make sure that it’s clean and easy to find information.
So what’s the first step?
1. A Professional Photo
This is not as easy as it may sound. A photo is going to be the first impression you give on your page. You’re going to want to look friendly, approachable, and above all, professional.
While you don’t have to get a professional profile pic (if your budget is tight), you are still going to want to ensure that the picture is a nice clean headshot of you and that you are smiling in the picture. (Smiling will project you as friendly and more approachable).
It goes without saying that since LinkedIn is the ultimate professional social media platform, it’s probably best to avoid silly Facebook photos of your latest vacation in Hawaii.
What makes a great LinkedIn photo?
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your picture is recent. You don’t want a 10 year old photo that bears zero resemblance to what you look like today.
Also using the same pic across all of your profiles will help tie your online brand and presence together.
Don’t forget to smile!
2. A Jam-Packed Profile
You want to be detailed and showcase all of your talents.
Don’t be shy.
You never know what detail of your profile might catch someone’s eye. This is your opportunity to display all of the interesting information about you that you wouldn’t be able to fit on a resume. Maybe it’s that summer you volunteered at a homeless shelter, or the fact that you have a degree in social entrepreneurship. Whatever it is, be sure to show it off. LinkedIn has a ton of categories such as Courses, Certifications, & Volunteer experience that give you the opportunity to clearly display your talents.
But Be Relevant
Warning: Now this doesn’t mean you need to showcase every single activity you’ve ever done since middle school. Ditch the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ tactic and instead make sure you share everything that’s relevant to your career or business goals.
3. A Customized URL link With Your Name
You want your LinkedIn URL to look like this.
In other words, customize the url to your name. There are two reasons for this:
It looks great when you send it to potential clients
It helps people find you
Not sure how to? Check out this tutorial.
4. A Clear Reference To Your Company
If you are a business owner, make absolutely sure that your Linkedin profile includes a link to your site, company page and/or portfolio. This is precisely what LinkedIn is designed to do, i.e. make it easy for people not just to get further acquainted with you but your products and services as well. Make the most of it.
If you don’t know how to include a link to your website, blog or portfolio, you might want to read these instructions.
Step 2: The Meat Of Your Profile
This part is where the real “meat” of your profile comes in. Even more important than the basics, these are the places on your LinkedIn profile that people will be looking at the most. From your headline, to your summary, and even your job experience, you’re going to want to make sure you’re ‘on point’.
How to make a juicy headline for your LinkedIn profile
6. A Juicy Headline
This is where the rubber meets the road. In our attention-deprived world, most people will judge you (and whether or not you might be important to them) in a nanosecond.
So you want to be ABSOLUTELY sure that your headline hits hard. And shines a light on exactly what makes you stand out.
To do that, your headline should answer the following questions:
- What makes you different or unique?
- Why should someone do business with (or hire) you over a competitor?
And please don’t send everyone to sleep with a boring list of products and services.
Remember to couch your headline in the needs of others.
A good format could be (title), (company name), We help (ideal client) (benefit) (how).
For example: Founder/President SLICE International| We help businesses convert leads to cash with high-quality content.
Another option is to simply use powerful but brief words to describe ‘what you bring to the party’.
Check out mine:
Pro Tip: Make sure your headline is no longer than 10 words.
7. A Brief Summary
Your summary is going to be the 3rd thing people look at on your profile ( after your photo and headline). So it has to be good.
Think of your summary as a long story version of your headline. It’s your story in a little more detail.
One way to ‘tell this story’ is to simply divide up the summary into your past, present and future. That way, you’ll be able to better explain to your audience exactly what your experience is, what you are currently engaged in as well as your professional aspirations for the future.
You story needs to once again highlight what makes you stand out from everyone else. Equally, you can add media, case studies, reports or downloads here to underline your expertise and to invite the viewer into further conversation with you.
8. Succinct Work Experience
A lot of people go wild in the “Experience” portion of LinkedIn. While you’re going to want to be detailed, you also don’t want to bore readers with unnecessary details. Make sure that everything you describes contributes to the value you can add today.
Also, make sure that for every relevant job or work experience that you’ve ever had, you briefly describe what the company did ( nothing more annoying than having to research an unknown company) and explain your role within the company.
Trust me, people are going to be relieved that only important details are on display.
9. A Picture Worth A Thousands Words (a.k.a. a banner)
A relatively new feature from LinkedIn, a banner offers you the chance to show off your personality.
Some opt for more conservative photos of beautiful scenery, others for logos of their companies, or whatever suits their fancy.
You could be a bit more ethereal and go for Richard Branson’s look:
Or maybe you’d like to show off a recent conference photo where you presented like Michael Dell:
Or even a sweet photo like Arianna Huffington, there really are a million options.
How to get the perfect banner for LinkedIn
Pro Tip: Be sure that the photo is either a JPEG, PNG, or GIF file that’s under 4 MB with dimensions of 1400x425 px.
Step 3: The Extra Touch
Now that you’ve done the basics and written out the meat of your profile, you’re going to want to look at some of the “extra” details. While not as crucial as say the headline, some of the portions of the LinkedIn profile will allow you to make an even better first impression.
10. List Those Skills
Skills are often an underappreciated part of the LinkedIn profile. Not only will those skills be a place where potential clients can see what you’re good at, but they’ll also be able to see how many of your connections think you’re good at them.
Be sure to place your most important skills at the top. So if you’re a pro at SEO, don’t hesitate to list it as your number 1 skill:
Pro Tip: Be sure to endorse skills for your connections who deserve them! You never know when they might come back and endorse your skills.
11. Where Are Your Images and Documents?
In your summary section, you are able to add images and even presentations. Take advantage of this feature to offer your clients another opportunity to see your work. Sometimes images really are worth 1000 words.
12. Be a Sharer
Share content (and make sure those links are displayed prominently on your profile). Not only will sharing industry-relevant content show your potential clients that you know what’s up or down in your field, but it’ll also be an opportunity to connect with those in your community.
All in all, LinkedIn is an amazing tool. Make sure that you can take full advantage of it by making your LinkedIn profile as substantial, informative, and friendly as possible. Make it easy for your potential clients (or future employees!) to love you.