As a professional, having a LinkedIn profile is like wearing black at a Metallica concert—it’s expected. You likely have a LinkedIn profile for this very reason. You know you should have one. But what’s it really doing for you? Who cares about LinkedIn anyway?

Your LinkedIn Profile is Your Shot to Make a Great First Impression

Just as brands are increasingly interacting with customers online rather than in retail stores, the first time a person interacts with you is also likely to be online. Let’s say you’ve finally gotten connected through email with a new prospect, a potential referral partner, or someone whose brain you’ve been dying to pick for months, and you’ve just set up a meeting with that person. Huge win, right? Right! Way to go, you!

Now what?

Where do you think that person is going to go next to learn more about you? Maybe your company website, but it’s most likely your LinkedIn profile. They will want to see what you look like and what contacts and interests you have in common. Their impression of your LinkedIn profile becomes important because their reaction is going to set the tone of your meeting and influence the likelihood you’ll develop a relationship. Ask yourself—is your profile going to make your new connection want to leap out of bed the morning of your meeting, or will it make them want to hit the snooze?

The 7-Step Checklist for a Rockstar LinkedIn Profile

Like meeting boring people? Nope. Nobody does—and you’re not boring, you’re awesome! Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your LinkedIn profile shows it:

  • Your photo should be a professional headshot that’s non-stuffy and non-naked. Your headshot should fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between a formal business suit against a feathered blue background and a screenshot of you at a summer party with someone else’s head clearly cut out.
  • Ditch the cheesy title. Your title can be your job title or something more creative, just make sure it’s genuinely YOU. This Forbes article also does a good job of describing some headlines to avoid and why.
  • An opening sentence that describes who you are. You’re a whole person that includes your passions both inside and outside your business. Craft an opening sentence that shows it.
  • Keep that up through the rest of your descriptive paragraph. Rather than listing your job duties (important, but that comes later), describe what you care about, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re currently working toward.
  • Claim your unique URL. It looks cleaner, shows you’ve made an effort, and makes it easier for others to find you in search results. Here’s how to do it.
  • Maintain updated career and education information. Here’s where to describe your job duties. Keep it relatively brief and non-boring. Use bullet points to make your professional information easier to read and digest.
  • Recommendations. We don’t think endorsements matter, but recommendations do. The best way to get recommendations is to give them. In The Radical Leap, Steve Farber describes something called “professional love notes”. Is there someone you are grateful for in your career? Tell them through a LinkedIn recommendation! And once you’ve written someone a recommendation, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for one. This article describes further how to ask for recommendations artfully.

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile may not do much on its own, but it can have a powerful impact through the impression it makes on people who are getting to know you. Anything we missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts on effectively leveraging LinkedIn!

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