Social selling; it’s all the rage now, since cold calling is dead. Part of my job involves understanding social selling, and that primarily – at least, for the time being – means LinkedIn.
But when it comes to LinkedIn, aren’t we all selling something? You know what I mean, don’t be coy. On LinkedIn, we’re all trying like hell to sell OURSELVES. Our personal brand. And to that end, we should all approach LinkedIn, our profiles there, and our activity there, as social selling. Given this is an up and coming discipline, there’s a lot of strategery being put out there on how to do social selling. My proposal is, apply those strategies to the product that is you. The following LinkedIn profile optimization advice, therefore, though created with the social selling salesperson in mind, can and will benefit anyone with a LinkedIn profile.
The 3 Basics
The first 3 basic things that you must optimize on LinkedIn are your profile picture, your background image, and your title. These happen to be the top 3 things that my social selling corporate partners at LinkedIn told me were the most important for profile optimization, so listen up. Let’s tackle each one of these separately.
First of all, if you don’t currently have at least something uploaded as a profile picture on LinkedIn, I have to grab you by the shoulders, shake you, and ask, “Why are you even ON LinkedIn?!?” Seriously. You need a profile picture, or you are actually, truly, HURTING yourself by being on LinkedIn. Why? Because all your competitors, be they salespeople, or other professionals in your career space, will be one up on you JUST by having a profile picture. You cannot let this injustice stand.
That said, any old picture won’t do. I’m not saying you have to go to a professional photographer and have a professional set of headshot images taken (note: I did exactly that, and if you do, make sure they aren’t selling you a package with relatively low-resolution small images, because even though many places call that their “social media package”, all the social media platforms now take HUGE images). But you do need an image that is a clean and professional portrait shot. Not one with some cropped-out person’s arm dangling over your shoulder. I have literally had a thought leader stand up against a wall in a hotel room hallway and, using his cellphone, taken a perfectly acceptable headshot for him to use on social. Don’t be intimidated by this stuff, but do be professional. This is literally the first element of your personal brand that a perspective client/employer/partner will see. Make it count.
You don’t have to do anything with the background image, honestly. If your company provides one, it’s nice to show solidarity and use it. But my primary reason for recommending you put something up there is simply that it differentiates you SO easily from another person who didn’t bother to upload a background image. It’s the proverbial low-hanging fruit, so go for it. The current optimal dimensions for the LinkedIn background image are 1400 x 425. If you don’t have a company-provided image, or are secretly more interested in promoting your personal brand over your team spirit (hey, I’ve been there, this is a judgement-free zone), try to come up with something that embodies your industry, or at least brings out the color in your profile picture’s eyes. If you’re in IT – and OK, maybe this is obnoxious advice – but a screenshot of the BSOD (blue screen of death) might be a memorable choice. Depends on your level of intestinal fortitude.
This is by far the trickiest of the top 3 discussed here. LinkedIn profile coaches have specifically advised that this be, not just your company and job title, but something much deeper (and therefor a hell of a lot harder to come up with). The advise that you take this space to let people know the problem you solve. In a crisis of career existentialism, what do you bring to the table?
OK, so maybe it’s not that hard. The point is, you should take advantage of this space to give some momentum to your career trajectory. Not just a simple title of what job you currently hold, but what you offer and view as your career strengths. Let’s take mine as an example:
Social Media Specialist at Skillsoft: Helping content marketing and social media play nice together
Why? Because, my core strength, thus far in my career (besides being a bold indie documentary filmmaker) is inbound marketing. And more importantly, that’s the space I want to be in career-wise. If I wanted to attract the attention of a recruiter or potential new hiring officer, that’s the job space I want them thinking of me for. Content marketing with a solid understanding of social media, and how those two synergize. It just so happens, that’s the job I’m currently doing, but if it weren’t, that would still be my title on LinkedIn, because it’s the job I WANT to be doing.
Now listen. You will AGONIZE on what to put for your title. So this is a good time to bring to your attention the “Notifications” toggle. You’ll find this to the right of your profile in the edit profile mode. It’s defaulted to “on”. You want to go ahead and default that to “off” for now. Unless you WANT all your connections to see the millions of scratch and burn status updates as you revise, re-revise, and re-re-revise your title. I don’t think I ever turned it back on, frankly, because the revising is never done.