Like most executives, you created a LinkedIn profile years ago. But have you looked at it lately? Is the information accurate. Is it up-to-date? Does it present an interesting and trustworthy first impression that entices further engagement?

You’re busy running your business, not looking for a job, right? You think, “Why should I care about my LinkedIn profile? Well, read on.

LinkedIn – Not just for Job Seekers

It’s true — LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters and job seekers.

But, LinkedIn is the biggest social media platform for B2B marketing with over 92% of B2B marketers leveraging LinkedIn over all other social platforms. Users research and investigate the executives behind the companies. Impressions are made from this digital persona.

If you haven’t updated your profile recently, you’re missing out on one of the best executive branding opportunities. Or worse, if your profile information is old, missing or lacking, it can be a liability for you and your business.

Crucial First Impression – The Introduction Card

When someone looks at your profile, the initial information is presented in what LinkedIn calls the Introduction Card. It’s the first section displayed where favorable impressions are made (or lost). It’s your opportunity to establish a positive first impression. 

Since so many searches these days are conducted on mobile devices, elements of the Introduction Card such as head shot are even more prevalent and crucial to optimize. 

You can see on Joyce Durst’s Introduction Card (mobile version on right), how prominent the head shot is. (Update June 2019 mobile display now same as desktop, with headshot on left side) In concert with the banner image, a compelling visual impression is made.

Follow this guide to learn how to optimize the first impression presented by your Introduction Card. In later blogs, we’ll discuss additional elements. 

Using Joyce’s Introduction Card (desktop view) you can see the 5 core elements elements. Two are visual (head shot and the background/banner photo). The other 3 are text (name, headline, and summary). 

Pictures Set the Stage

1.  Head shotProfessional, yet personable

The headshot is crucial for a positive first impression — especially on mobile, where the photo is front and center. Get rid of blurry, dark and poorly lit photos. Replace any old headshots with a recent photograph that’s cropped and professionally composed. I highly recommend investing in the services of a professional photographer. They’ll ensure lighting and composition is ideal, capture your “personality” and provide an edited image (400 pixels x 400 pixels). Expect to invest $150 – $250+.  

2.  Background (Banner) PhotoVisually supporting business value

It’s amazing how many profiles don’t take advantage of this visual element. I don’t have the statistics, but I suspect over 95% of LinkedIn profiles use the default (boring blue) image as the background banner. Change it to something that reflects who you are or reinforces the value or services/products you provide. The image should be 1584 pixels x 396 pixels (reference: Louise Myers Visual LI Guide).

The two profiles below demonstrate the visual impact a unique background banner (right photo) delivers over the default banner (left photo).

Optimize Text to Establish Intrigue and Interest

3.  Your NameStraight forward

This is straight forward. It’s your first and last name. But if you have a first name that is formal and informal (Stephen and Steve) or a nickname (eg. J.P.) it’s smart to add both versions in your first name such as “Steve (Stephen)” or “John (J.P.)” (see Steve Coffman LI profile as example). That way, if someone searches LinkedIn by either name, you will show up. And if you’re recently married, I recommend both names in the last name field using the same technique.

4.  HeadlineKey opportunity

This line is immediately below your name. Like the background banner, most users fail to take advantage of this line. By default, and most people do this, the headline pulls the title and company name from your current job. Accurate, but not compelling. Use this headline (you have 120 characters) to create a compelling and interesting “introduction” that starts establishing interest in you.  I recommend a format such as:

<Current title>, <keyword(s)/keyword phrase(s > | Benefit hook or intriguing “how I add value/what I can do for you/why I do what I do>” See Jeff Green LI profile for an example of this headline format.

5.  About (Previously called Summary)The story of your why begins

The About section (Update June 2019: it previously was called Summary and was displayed in the Introduction Card. Now, it’s called About and shows up below the Introduction Card (and the highlight section) provides up to 2000 characters to tell your story. William Arruda, someone I admire, has been doing personal branding for decades. Read his recent Forbes article, How to Write a Stellar LinkedIn Summary for a thorough guide to write your summary.

The interesting part of the About section is how the first few lines are displayed. On desktop, just the first approximately 300 characters are initially displayed (or just the first paragraph, whichever is shorter). The rest is hidden until you expand by hitting “Show more…” . On mobile, it’s just 85-90 characters that’s displayed.

So, I recommend after writing your About summary, you fine tune the opening few sentences. Like a movie trailer, those first few sentences need to be intriguing. Intriguing enough to have the reader expand the section and read more.

There is more to fully complete your LinkedIn profile. The job experience section and school section are extremely important. The effort to create your full summary is critical.

But if you focus on these 5 elements, as you re-build your profile, you will dramatically enhance the first impression you make.

It’s not difficult to improve your LinkedIn profile. It just takes time and dedication to complete. If you’re not sure where to start or want someone to help, feel free to contact me via the Wickpoint contact form.