Make your LinkedIn story a compelling one


I spent a few hours this weekend on updating my profile on LinkedIn, the business social networking site.

Most of my content changing went on the profile summary which is the first and sometimes only information about you a potential employer, recruiter or client pays attention to before deciding whether or not to take a next step, eg, get in touch. Recruiters especially do pay attention to social networking sites.

Think of your profile summary as your silent elevator pitch.

(Such views have added weight if you read the rather bleak perspective about the future of work by Forbes blogger J. Maureen Henderson last week.)

I changed the profile photo for something a little more pleasing (to my eye) and “LinkedIn professional”; reorganized and rewrote some of the existing content; made my IABC accreditation status far more prominent; added some missing information that LinkedIn’s sections feature, introduced last year, lets me include appropriately; and generally tidied up the overall presentation.

I also changed the public profile address to – it’s been just “neville” since the vanity URL feature first became available after I joined LinkedIn in 2004 – taking a tip from LinkedIn expert Jorgen Sundberg in how to make Google love your LinkedIn profile.

Other tips were in The Value Of Writing A LinkedIn Profile Thats Different From Your Resume, written by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter last November.

Some good resources on LinkedIn itself include:

So, is it worth spending the time on this? Well, it seems to me that if you do have a presence on LinkedIn, you may as well make it as compelling as possible. Otherwise, why bother?

And there’s a pragmatic reason. A few weeks ago, I needed to provide a traditional CV to a company – the first time I’ve had to do that in a very long time. I used the profile-to-PDF feature in LinkedIn to generate it, and immediately realized that what I had was woefully inadequate.

So I started from scratch creating a new CV, one that tells my professional story far better and more accurately than before, focusing on skills and achievements rather than the traditional job-title focus and reverse-chronology of where you were and when (which is still how LinkedIn shows your information). That became the source material for revising what my LinkedIn profile now says.

There are many different schools of thought about services like LinkedIn (others such as Xing and Viadeo also come to mind). Most people I know believe they’re important for business networking nowadays. I don’t disagree although I’ve never used LinkedIn the way I see many others doing it, as a sort of pitching service. I do find some of the groups useful for engaging with like-minded people.

I tend to prefer places like Twitter and Google+ for making business connections, ie, I don’t focus on a separate place just for business.

And some people have more of a ‘meh‘ attitude about LinkedIn. Chris Brogan, for instance, who quit LinkedIn earlier this year:

[…] I reported a fairly simple problem: I can’t seem to add people back when they request that we connect. Oh, that would be about the 2nd primary thing one does on the site. You make a profile and then you connect. That’s about it. The connecting part has been broken. I’m done. I don’t care. Whatever.

In any case, I now have a shiny new LinkedIn profile that brings me more up to date. As I solicited feedback on it, I expect to make more improvements soon; some good ideas are in already (including one urging me to quit LinkedIn – no, not from Chris – and “connect with people the old fashioned way, face to face”).

Does your LinkedIn profile tell a compelling story about you?

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. David

    Hi Neville,

    You’ve got some handy tips, but looking at both your profile and Jacqui’s profile descriptor at the bottom of her piece, my overriding thought is ‘too many words’.

    I’m updating my profile at the moment, and think one of the crucial things is to sell your story with brevity. People are time-poor these days. They need to get the punchline of why they should be interested in you quickly.

    With that in mind, I’d suggest that your summary is, in fact, far from being that. It’s very long, and I faded out about a third of the way through.

    See if you can condense it into three, sharp teaser paragraphs that entice people to find out more in the information that follows and fills it out.

    Hope that’s helpful!


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