The Complete Guide to Optimising Your LinkedIn Profile

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I've been providing social media marketing services for businesses and non-profits for many years, but I had neglected my own social media profiles – particularly my LinkedIn one.

I'm always advising my clients to continuously optimise and refine their profiles, add new content regularly and engage with their target audience on social media whenever they get the opportunity. But I wasn't following any of my own advice.

I often used the phrase "The best cobbler always wears the worst shoes" as a reason for my unfinished LinkedIn profile. But it wasn't a reason; it was just an excuse.

Rob Carter's old LinkedIn profile
Rob Carter's old LinkedIn profile

You're better off having no social media profile than one that's half-finished or never updated, but as I work in the B2B service industry closing my LinkedIn account simply wasn't an option. I had to find the time to update it – and I did!

Rob Carter's optimised LinkedIn profile
Rob Carter's optimised LinkedIn profile

One of the best bits of marketing advice I've ever received is to "document everything", and that's exactly what I've done with this post.

I took everything I know about optimising LinkedIn profiles, applied that knowledge and experience to my own profile and documented the entire process from start to finish. The end result is the complete guide to optimising your LinkedIn profile!

Profile URL

When you first joined LinkedIn you would have been given a unique web address for your individual profile. It's normally something like www.linkedin.com/in/hu28avq3rl19p4.

The first thing I recommend doing is customising your URL. Why? Well, there are a number of benefits to creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile:

  • It will be easier for you to remember;
  • It looks better in an email signature;
  • It looks better on your CV;
  • It looks better on your business card; and
  • It looks more professional on your LinkedIn profile.

To edit your LinkedIn URL, visit your profile page while logged in and click on "Edit public profile and URL" in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Edit public profile and LinkedIn URL
Edit public profile and LinkedIn URL

On the next page you'll see an option to "Edit your custom URL". Click on the pencil icon and delete the random letters and numbers, changing it to your name.

Edit your custom LinkedIn URL
Edit your custom LinkedIn URL

At the time of writing LinkedIn has around 830 million members in more than 200 countries worldwide, so there's a good chance your name will be taken, especially if it's a common one.

If it's taken, you could always combine your name and business name. Another option is to include your area of expertise, such as "social media marketing".

My name was taken, so I used https://www.linkedin.com/in/robcartermegademic instead.

I often used the phrase "The best cobbler always wears the worst shoes" as a reason for my unfinished LinkedIn profile. But it wasn't a reason; it was just an excuse.

Profile photo

Recommended photo size: 400 x 400

The best place to start when optimsing your LinkedIn profile is to update your profile photo. It's often the first thing people notice when viewing your page, which means it has the greatest impact on the first impression you make.

LinkedIn profile photo
LinkedIn profile photo

If, for whatever reason, you haven't uploaded a profile photo, there's no better time than now. According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos get 21x more views and 36x more messages than profiles that don't.

It's hard to believe that anybody who uses LinkedIn wouldn't have a profile photo, but you'd be surprised. I come across them all the time. Don't be one of those people.

Invest in a professional headshot

Investing in a professional headshot will undoubtedly give you the best results. A professional photographer will be able to guide you on how and where to sit, they'll have access to high-quality lighting equipment and they'll have a range of different backgrounds to work with.

Many professional photographers offer LinkedIn packages, and the cost is often very reasonable. Studio shoots typically cost between £150–200, while location shoots usually cost between £350–500.

If you think that's expensive, think about how much you've spent on your work clothes over the past year or so; the cost of a professional headshot will rarely be anywhere near that, but a high-quality photo is even more important for promoting your personal brand online.

DG Corporate professional headshots
DG Corporate professional headshots

Attend local or regional trade shows

If you don't have the budget for a professional headshot, another option is to attend local or regional trade shows or business events.

Many companies that exhibit at these events bring along a professional photographer and offer free LinkedIn headshots, in exchange for your email address and your consent to receive marketing emails.

That's a pretty fair exchange for a professional headshot, in my opinion.

Check out daily deal sites

If you can't afford a professional photographer then keep an eye out for Groupon, Living Social or Daily Deals specials.

I often see deals for professional photo sessions at a fraction of the usual price on these sites, so it's definitely worth spending a few minutes searching through them.

Groupon photo shoot deals
Groupon photo shoot deals

Take a photo with your smartphone

Another option is to take a photo on your mobile phone. Most smartphones these days have amazing cameras that are more than capable of taking fantastic photos.

For the best results, position yourself in front a plain background and ensure that your face is well-lit from the front. I have two Elgato Key Lights attached to my desk, and they do a fantastic job of illuminating my face while streaming or talking to my clients on Zoom.

Of course, you don't have to use Elgato Key Lights – or any artificial light source for that matter – but your face does need to be well-lit. If you don't have access to any additional lighting equipment, just make sure your head and shoulders are evenly lit – preferably with natural lighting.

While you won't get the same results as a professional photographer, it's still preferable to digging out an old photo from a family wedding!

10 tips for LinkedIn profile photos

  • Make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame.
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds.
  • Make sure you're the only person in the photo.
  • The photo should be of your shoulders and above.
  • Ideally you should be looking at the camera and smiling.
  • Take the photo in soft, natural light.
  • Dress in the sort of clothes you wear at work.
  • Keep the use of filters to a minimum.
  • Use a high-resolution image.
  • Get someone else to take the photo for you.

Checking my LinkedIn profile photo against the above list, there's no doubt that it could be improved. Something else to add to my to-do list!

Banner image

Recommended image size: 1584 x 396

Behind your profile photo is your LinkedIn banner/background, which is one of the most overlooked and underutilised elements of LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn banner
LinkedIn banner

The LinkedIn banner is basically your personal billboard. It's an amazing asset that can help you show people what it is that you do and how you might be able to help them.

It's important to remember that the focus of your LinkedIn banner shouldn't be to push what you sell; it should be to show people how you might be able to help them.

I recommend having a photo of your main product (if it's a physical product) or your company logo, followed by a few words to showcase what you offer.

LinkedIn banner design tools

I've been creating graphics for many years and am highly proficient in the use of graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. But if you don't have experience of using complex design tools, there are a few beginner-friendly design apps you could try.

Canva

Canva has almost 5,000 pre-designed LinkedIn banner templates at the time of writing, and they're adding more all the time. You can also design your LinkedIn banner from scratch and can change colours, logos, text, photos and just about any other graphical element.

Canva is completely free, although it does have a paid upgrade option which unlocks even more awesome features. If you're a complete beginner and don't have the budget to pay a professional to design your LinkedIn banner, Canva is probably the best option.

Canva LinkedIn banner templates
Canva LinkedIn banner templates

Vista Create

If you don't like the look of Canva or you feel that their premium plans are too expensive, it might be worth checking out Vista Create.

In October 2021, the world's largest online printing company, VistaPrint, purchased online graphic design tool Crello in order to gain a foothold in the online design market.

Canva are light years ahead in terms of template quantity and quality, but Vista Create is significantly cheaper. A premium subscription to Vista Create is just $10 per month, compared to $24 per month for Canva.

Vista Create LinkedIn cover templates
Vista Create LinkedIn cover templates

Pixelied

Another excellent alternative to Canva is Pixelied, an online graphic design tool that has thousands of social media graphics, banner images, ebook covers, podcast art templates and more.

Best of all, you don't have to pay a monthly subscription to use it. Pixelied is available for a one-time price of $97, which includes access to all 4,000+ premium templates and 4m+ stock photos and icons.

Pixelied also has a pretty cool background removal tool to help you create transparent images, an image resizer and plenty of photo effects. You really can't go wrong for $97.

Pixelied LinkedIn banner templates
Pixelied LinkedIn banner templates

LinkedIn banner design service

If you're struggling for inspiration or you can't get to grips with the online graphic design tools listed above, we can create a custom LinkedIn background for you. Just send us an email via our "Contact Us" page and we'll get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your project.

We also offer a complete social media marketing service to help you promote your brand on LinkedIn as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok. Again, send us an email and we'll be happy to discuss the available options with you.

Headline

Another element that people often forget to optimise is their professional headline.

This is the text found directly beneath your name and it shows up everywhere: in searches, in your contact listing, when you start a discussion in a group and in company profiles.

LinkedIn headline
LinkedIn headline

In any or all of these examples, LinkedIn will display a snapshot of your profile, including your name, photo and professional headline. Many people just go with the default "Title at Company" headline from their latest job, but that may not be the best option for everyone.

By customising your LinkedIn headline, you'll instantly distinguish yourself, give prospects and recruiters a reason to view your profile and show potential connections what you're capable of and what you do. Remember: a LinkedIn headline summarises the value you'll deliver as a future employee or supplier.

How to edit your LinkedIn headline

To create a custom headline, visit your profile page and click on the pencil icon located just below your LinkedIn banner.

Edit LinkedIn profile
Edit LinkedIn profile

About halfway down the popup screen you'll see the "Headline" field. Notice how small the field is. It's not obvious at first, but you actually have 120 characters (including spaces and special characters) to write your headline.

LinkedIn headline field
LinkedIn headline field

Use this section to share your areas of expertise and interest, to speak to your niche markets and promote your personal brand.

Your professional headline is a very important part of your LinkedIn presence and it's worth taking the time to craft one that's right for you.

LinkedIn headline examples

I've split tested all of the following LinkedIn headline types many times over the years, and in my experience there isn't a great deal of difference between them. I've seen each one of them generate amazing results; my advice is to choose the style of headline that best aligns with your personal brand.

Type 1 – The job title

From my experience, this style of professional headline is most suitable if you're in a leadership position. For example, "Vice President of Global Sales" is the kind of title that carries a lot of weight.

When many people start using LinkedIn they just stick with their job title and sometimes change it as they gradually build up their personal brand.

Some more examples are:

  • Head of Paid Search at ABC Marketing;
  • Head of Projects at ABC Logistics; and
  • Senior Recruitment Consultant at ABC Recruitment

Type 2 – We help people

If your solution focuses on solving one key problem then this style can work well. For example, I could have as my headline: "I Help Businesses & Non-Profits Achieve Remarkable Online Growth Through Behaviour-Driven Digital Marketing".

Some more examples are:

  • Helping Course Creators Launch & Sell Their Courses Online;
  • Helping Accountancy Firms Secure More Clients Through SEO; and
  • I Help Business Professionals Stand Out with Professional LinkedIn Headshots

Type 3 – Bullet points

This is the style that I personally like and use, but only because I offer a variety of services. It's a headline style that can work well as you build a strong personal brand in your industry. At the time of writing, my headline is: "Web Designer & Digital Marketer | Leading Authority on SEO | Paid Search Expert | Content Creator | Founder & Owner of Megademic".

This style of headline is the one to go for if you're selling different products or services into different verticals, or if you own more than one brand.

Some more examples are:

  • Web Designer | Founder of ABC Web Design | Founder of ABC Digital Marketing | Entrepreneur | Keynote Speaker;
  • CEO & Founder of ABC Marketing | Leading Authority on SEO | Author of Several LinkedIn Marketing Books; and
  • Award-Winning Author | CEO of ABC Consulting | Keynote Speaker | Founder of ABC Media

Don't pretend you're not selling something

Everyone on LinkedIn is selling something. Everyone knows it, and changing your headline to try to hide the fact that you're selling a product or service simply won't work.

People don't read a headline like "We help people save money with X" and think to themselves "Oh, this person isn't trying to sell me something, they just want to help". They know full well that you're trying to sell a product or service.

Embrace the fact that you're selling something; don't be afraid to tell people what you're offering, and don't think that people won't see through a disguised sales pitch.

Everyone lives by selling something

Robert Louis Stevenson

Summary

The next section to optimise is your LinkedIn summary. After your photo and background image this is the next part of your profile that holds the most value from a lead generation and sales perspective.

LinkedIn summary
LinkedIn summary

To edit your summary, click on the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner of the summary section.

Edit LinkedIn summary
Edit LinkedIn summary

You have a maximum of 2,600 characters to write about who you are and how you help your customers to achieve their goals. It's similar to the "Description" field in the "Experience" section, but it's much more visible because it appears higher up on your profile page.

If you've filled in your profile like a CV, your summary probably reads a bit like a "personal statement" which you often have at the top of your CV; one or two paragraphs of text that describe your personal qualities, what you want and why someone should hire you. It's also probably not very interesting or exciting to read.

What we're going to do now is change your CV-style profile summary into one that's entirely customer focused. If you want to use LinkedIn to generate leads and sales, your summary shouldn't focus on you; it should focus on how you can help your target audience.

Embrace the fact that you're selling something; don't be afraid to tell people what you're offering, and don't think that people won't see through a disguised sales pitch.

When writing your summary, try to focus on these six key areas:

  • Whom do you help?
  • How do you help?
  • What do you help them achieve?
  • How have you helped others?
  • How could you help them?
  • How can they reach you to find out more?

You need to put yourself in your audience's shoes and think about how they will feel when they read it. What impression will it make on them? Will it make them want to get in touch with you?

By focusing on these key areas, you'll also start to prequalify your leads. This will help to increase the quality of the leads that do come through.

Tips for formatting your summary

Since you can't bold, italicise or highlight your text, I recommend CAPITALISING WHAT YOU WANT THE READER'S EYE TO BE DRAWN TO. You definitely don't want to overdo it though. To be safe, just capitalise your section headings and the very occasional keyword.

Capitalised LinkedIn summary headings
Capitalised LinkedIn summary headings

Breaking up your text with whitespace makes large amounts of information much easier to consume. Nobody wants to be greeted with a wall of text.

Finally, make sure your summary contains no spelling mistakes or grammatical error. LinkedIn is a professional business networking site, and few things look as unprofessional as spelling mistakes.

Keyword optimisation

Whether you're creating content for an SEO campaign or adding content to your social media profiles, keywords still play an important role in helping people find your content.

Your LinkedIn summary is no different. When writing your summary it's important to include as many relevant keywords as possible, while making sure that your content still reads naturally.

Keyword-optimised LinkedIn summary
Keyword-optimised LinkedIn summary

LinkedIn's internal search algorithm isn't nearly as sophisticated as Google's, so if your summary doesn't contain the keywords your customers are searching for there's a good chance they won't find it.

Summary structure

Before writing your LinkedIn summary, it's a good idea to think about how the content should be structured and organised. If you know what areas you need to cover, writing the text itself should be a lot easier.

The following structure is the one that I use for my own LinkedIn summary, and is the one that my clients generally settle on when I'm advising them on how to optimise their LinkedIn profile.

if you structure your summary in this way, you'll automatically cover most of the six key areas listed above.

Section 1 – Who are you and what do you help people achieve?

This is the place to introduce yourself, to tell your prospects about your background, your experience and what you help people to achieve.

Remember to keep it brief. Two or three short paragraphs will do. Remember: although it's your summary, it's not really about you; it's about the people you're trying to connect with.

Section 2 – Whom do you often help(job titles / industries) and how do you help them?

This is where you can speak to your target audience directly, referencing the types of businesses, departments and individuals you deal with on a regular basis and how you help them achieve their objectives.

As an example, if you run a sales training consultancy and you usually get approached by sales directors then you might write something like: "I help sales directors motivate and develop their sales teams through one-on-one interactions, group training sessions and real-world assessments."

Your summary shouldn't focus on you; it should focus on how you can help your target audience.

If you're keen to expand into a new market then it would be a good idea to mention that too. There's nothing in wrong in letting people know that you offer a solution that could solve their problems.

Section 3 – Whom have you helped recently and what have you helped them achieve?

You won't always be able to list the people and companies that you've helped for a variety of reasons, but if you can then it's a great way to backup your claims and prove that you are who you say you are and do what you say you do.

If you've achieved amazing results for a competitor of the person who's viewing your profile, they're highly likely to be very interested in what you can do for them as well. You just need to make sure you're not in breach of any confidentiality agreements by listing who you've worked for.

Section 4 – How can they get in touch with you if they want to learn more?

Your contact details will already be on your LinkedIn profile, but the problem is that they're hidden away in a separate section. You want to make it as easy as possible for your prospects to get in touch with you, which is why I recommend adding your contact details to the bottom of your LinkedIn summary.

If you're not sure what to include, the following example should give you some ideas:

If you would like to talk about any of the above or just want to see if we can help you _______________, please feel free to message me on LinkedIn or contact me on:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website

My LinkedIn summary

If you're wondering what my LinkedIn summary looks like, well, wonder no more.

I help startups, established businesses and non-profits achieve remarkable growth online through proven SEO, PPC, social media marketing and email marketing strategies.

With me on your team you'll get more website traffic, more leads, more sales, more customers and more business. No fluff. No guessing. Just highly effective digital marketing strategies and growth hacks that will turn your website into a lead-generating traffic magnet.

WHO HAVE I WORKED WITH?
I've worked with just about every type of organisation, from local businesses and small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations and international non-profits. Whether you want to improve your search engine rankings, generate more leads from your PPC campaigns or reach more people on social media, I can help.

  • HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Marketing funnels
  • Web design and development
  • Digital marketing training
  • Website management training

MEGADEMIC
I'm the founder of Megademic, one of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. We're constantly adding new features, resources and content to our website, so feel free to check it out.

If you're not getting enough conversions through your current website or you need help promoting an online product or service, please feel free to message me on LinkedIn or contact me on:

Email: rob.carter@megademic.com
Website: www.megademic.com

Although it's your summary, it's not really about you; it's about the people you're trying to connect with.

Beneath your LinkedIn summary is a "Featured" section where you're able to showcase your most important content. You have a choice of four different types of content:

  • Posts – Show your content that's posted on LinkedIn;
  • Newsletter - Display newsletters you've created on LinkedIn;
  • Articles – Show articles you've published on LinkedIn;
  • Links – Show links to online content (such as blog posts or case studies); and
  • Media – Upload photos, documents and presentations.
LinkedIn Featured section
LinkedIn 'Featured' section

Clicking on the "+" symbol reveals a dropdown menu where you can choose which type of content to add.

LinkedIn Featured section dropdown menu
LinkedIn 'Featured' section dropdown menu

Clicking on the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner of the section will reveal a list of all your featured content, which you can then edit or delete by clicking the corresponding buttons.

Edit LinkedIn featured content
Edit LinkedIn featured content

Adding items to your featured content section is a great way to surface your most engaging content. I'd recommend focusing on successful pieces of content that you've shared, alongside testimonials, white papers and product/service information sheets.

The key is to provide information that's genuinely helpful and valuable to your prospects. If you can do that on a regular basis, people will view you as someone credible.

In my featured section, I've linked to some of my best and most comprehensive blog posts – including this one! Linking to your best blog posts will help to position you as a thought leader – providing your content is of exceptional quality, of course.

Activity

Directly below the "Featured" section you'll find the "Activity" section. This section is built up from the posts and articles that you create and the engagement activity that your content receives.

LinkedIn Activity section
LinkedIn 'Activity' section

As such, it's not really a section you can edit or optimise; it just expands organically over time as you post more and more content on LinkedIn.

Work experience

This is where you will list all of your work experience to date, again very much like your CV. Whilst this section will rarely have a huge influence on generating sales, there are a few ways you can make sure it enhances your profile.

LinkedIn Experience section
LinkedIn 'Experience' section

The first step is to make sure your current role has the most information. If you have more interesting and exciting information for your previous roles than your current one, it's likely that you'll be diverting attention and traffic to your previous companies rather than the one you're currently working for.

Your current role is best viewed as an extension of your LinkedIn summary. Some information might even be repeated, but it's an opportunity to reiterate the core ways in which you help people and what you do in your role to achieve that.

The key is to provide information that's genuinely helpful and valuable to your prospects. If you can do that on a regular basis, people will view you as someone credible.

Personally, I would recommend keeping information about your previous roles to a bare minimum. There are two ways I would suggest doing this. One is to have no information attached to your previous roles at all. Simply your title, company name and the dates you worked there.

This highlights your experience but doesn't divert attention away from your current role.

The other option is to have your title, the company name and dates, but to also include a few bullet points for each role.

Current role vs previous roles
Current role vs previous roles

We're still using the "customer-focused" approach here, so those bullet points aren't an opportunity for you to boast about how successful you were, but about how you helped people, with maybe some examples of the companies that you helped.

Education

Below the "Experience" section you'll find the "Education" section.

LinkedIn Education section
LinkedIn 'Education' section

As this guide is aimed at helping you optimise your LinkedIn profile to attract customers, the education section isn't super-important (if you're searching for employment then it's obviously going to be a very important part of your profile).

However, for the sake of completeness I've listed a few tips for creating an effective education section on LinkedIn:

  • If you have a degree, include as much information as possible about specific modules and your dissertation (including scores).
  • You're not necessarily expected to include details of qualifications from school (such as A level, GCSE or equivalent subjects and grades). However, as long as they don't reflect poorly on you, I'd recommend including this information.
  • You know by now that your profile needs to be keyword-rich, so try to include some additional keywords in your education history that could help your profile get found.

Uploading media

You can also upload media into your work experience and education sections. This can include an image or document, or a link to a testimonial or case study on your website.

To add media to one of your roles, the first step is to click the pencil icon next to the role you want to edit.

Edit work experience on LinkedIn profile
Edit work experience on LinkedIn profile

This will display a popup window containing a form that enables you to edit the job entry. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the window, you'll see the "Add media" button.

Upload media to LinkedIn experience section
Upload media to LinkedIn experience section

Uploading media to your LinkedIn profile is a great way to expand on your LinkedIn summary and include engaging content that further highlights what you offer and how you can help your customers.

Adding media to a work experience section will really help it stand out, which is I strongly recommend that you only use this feature for your current role.

If you start making your previous roles and companies stand out in your profile, this will not only draw eyes away from relevant information about your current role, but may direct profile viewers to your previous companies.

Official LinkedIn guidance on media file types

You can enhance your LinkedIn experience by adding and sharing media samples.

The following file formats of media samples are supported:

  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt/.pptx)
  • Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx)
  • .jpg/.jpeg
  • .png
  • .gif (not supported on profile or background photos)

Important information

  • The file size cannot exceed 100MB.
  • The page limit is 300 pages.
  • The word count limit is one million words.
  • The maximum resolution for images is 36 megapixels.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/a564109/media-file-types-supported-on-linkedin?lang=en

Endorsements

On the face of it, they seem like they should be important. I mean, getting endorsements from other people should be important, right? And surely the people with the most endorsements should be getting the most sales?

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Endorsements are the LinkedIn equivalent of the SEO keywords tag, which means they're pretty much worthless.

Everyone endorses everyone for everything. Recommendations carry a lot more weight.

Anonymous recruiter

This is all a result of endorsements being manipulated from the early days of LinkedIn. People messaged each other requesting reciprocal endorsements, the majority of whom didn't even know each other or whether they deserved an endorsement for a particular skill.

They do, however, still appear on your profile and there's one useful thing you can do with them: you can choose which three sit at the top of your skills section. Those three endorsements will be the only ones someone will see unless they decide to open the section and view all of your listed skills.

Visible and hidden LinkedIn endorsements
Visible and hidden LinkedIn endorsements

Whilst they may not pay too much attention to the numbers, the words will still resonate with them. So it's a good idea to choose the three endorsements that are most relevant to what you do right now and move them to the top.

To reorder your skills/endorsements, the first step is to click the pen icon in the top right-hand corner of the "Skills" section.

Edit LinkedIn Skills section
Edit LinkedIn 'Skills' section

Then click the three dots next to the "Take skill quiz" button and click on "Reorder" in the dropdown menu.

LinkedIn Skills section dropdown menu
LinkedIn 'Skills' section dropdown menu

You'll then be able to drag and drop your skills into any order you want.

Reorder LinkedIn skills
Reorder LinkedIn skills

Recommendations

I think the "Recommendations" section is one of the most powerful and effective elements of any LinkedIn profile.

The importance of recommendations and reviews cannot be overstated. Most people read reviews before they buy anything; I know I do.

The secret to marketing success is no secret at all: word of mouth is all that matters.

Seth Godin

Amazon has perfected the art of social proof-driven purchases: almost every product I've ever seen on Amazon has at least a handful of reviews, and those reviews have a huge impact on whether or not people choose to buy those products.

Many people don't know that a "reviews" feature is built into their LinkedIn profile, and it's a tool that everyone should leverage as much as they possibly can.

The problem is most people don't.

It's actually quite similar to asking for a referral, which always reminds me of an incredible sales statistic:

Ninety-one percent of customers said they would give referrals, yet only 11% of salespeople actually ask for them.

Dale Carnegie

That's unbelievable, right? A staggering 91% of customers would be happy to refer people, but they almost never get asked to!

It's probably not too dissimilar for LinkedIn recommendations.

Most profiles that I review either don't have any recommendations or they only have one or two (while putting this article together and updating my own profile, I sent out around a dozen requests for recommendations and will continue to send more over time).

I would highly recommend (no pun intended) that after reading this guide on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile, you ask all your existing customers for recommendations.

Whether you send them a personalised email, LinkedIn message or give them a call, just make sure you don't leave money on the table by not contacting them.

Request recommendation feature

LinkedIn has a built-in feature for requesting recommendations and it works really well. To use the LinkedIn recommendation request feature, perform the following actions:

1. Click on the "Add profile section" button at the top of your profile page.

Add LinkedIn profile section
Add LinkedIn profile section

2. Expand the "Recommended" list in the popup window and select "Recommendations".

Add LinkedIn recommendations
Add LinkedIn recommendations

3. You'll then be presented with a screen where you can search for the person you want to request a recommendation from. Once you've found them, click the "Continue" button.

Search for LinkedIn recommendation
Search for LinkedIn recommendation

4. The final screen contains a form where you can personalise your recommendation request. Select from one of the options in the "Relationship" field, choose which role you occupied at the time and then craft a personalised recommendation request for the recipient. Once you've finished, click "Send".

Request LinkedIn recommendation
Request LinkedIn recommendation

Request a referral at the same time

Whether you request a recommendation via LinkedIn's built-in system, email or over the phone, I highly recommend asking for a referral at the same time.

Assuming you've done a good job, chances are that the customer will be more than happy to pass your contact details on to their clients, contacts and colleagues. Boom, you've got a nice recommendation for your LinkedIn profile and a few referrals as well!

If you want to send your customer a message but you're not sure what to write, the following template should help:

Hi [customer name],

I enjoyed worked with you on [project name]. If you could spare a few minutes, would it be possible for you to leave me a recommendation on LinkedIn? I'd be more than happy to do the same for you.

I also wanted to see if you might know anyone who could use [your service/product]?

Kind regards,

Rob Carter

Repurposing your recommendations

After you receive a recommendation from a customer, it's obviously good manners to thank them for taking the time to write it. When you do, just add a sentence like "Would it be okay if I share your recommendation on social media?".

If they agree, bingo! Social proof is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, partly because it's difficult to fake. So to be able to share someone else's confirmation that you can be trusted is a huge advantage.

They say 90% of the promotion of a book comes through word of mouth. But you've somehow got to get your book into the hands of those mouths first!

Claudia Osmond

Ultimately, nobody will be more trustworthy than one of your happy customers. Sharing those recommendation on your feed will help show potential customers that you're a credible professional and a reliable supplier.

Skills

The "Skills" section is where you get to add your own unique skills to your LinkedIn profile. You can add up to 50 skills, and I recommend adding as many as you can in order to help increase your profile's discoverability.

LinkedIn Skills Section
LinkedIn 'Skills' Section

To add a skill, click on "+" icon and start typing your skill in the popup window. You should also see some additional skills that LinkedIn suggests adding, based on your profile information.

Add LinkedIn skill
Add LinkedIn skill

Once you've entered a skill (or clicked on a LinkedIn suggestion), you'll then be asked to select where you put this skill to use, such as a particular role or course. Once you've done that, your skill will be added to your profile.

To edit any of your skills, simply click on the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner of the "Skills" section and then edit and of the skills that need to be changed.

Edit LinkedIn Skills section
Edit LinkedIn 'Skills' section

You can also reorder your skills so that your most important ones are at the top of the list and are always visible. To reorder your skills, click on the three dots next to the "Take skill quiz" button, click "Reorder" and drag and drop your skills into the required order.

Reorder LinkedIn skills
Reorder LinkedIn skills

Skill assessments

LinkedIn's Skill Assessment's feature enables you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the skills you've added to your profile. It's another way of saying that you know what you're talking about.

Skill assessments usually consist of 15 multiple-choice questions. Each question is designed to test one particular concept or subskill.

Each of the questions has a time limit, and the assessment must be completed in one session. If you pass, you'll be awarded a badge on your profile.

Having a LinkedIn skill badge isn't going to magically get you more leads and customers, but it certainly won't hurt.

It's not particularly difficult to cheat on a skills assessment where you're not monitored, but from speaking to thousands of LinkedIn users over the years it's not the first thing they consider when the see a skills badge.

For more information, visit the "LinkedIn Skill Assessments" page.

Interests

The "Interests" section is located at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile and used to be a place where you could dump a load of keywords related to your industry or niche, but now it displays the influencers, companies and groups you follow.

LinkedIn Interests section
LinkedIn 'Interests' section

As such, this isn't really a section you can optimise; it will build up over time as you join more groups and follow more companies (which you should be doing all the time anyway).

Add sections

Along with the core LinkedIn sections ("Featured", "About", "Education", etc) you also have the option to add supplementary sections including "Courses", "Publications" and "Patents". If any of them apply to you, it's worth adding them to your profile.

To add a new section to your LinkedIn profile, simply click on the "Add profile section" button located just below your profile photo and select the type of section you wish to add. You can then fill out the information in the normal way.

Add LinkedIn profile section
Add LinkedIn profile section

For your reference, the full list of available LinkedIn sections is as follows:

Core

  • Education
  • Position
  • Career break
  • Skills
  • Featured
  • Licenses and certifications
  • Courses
  • Recommendations

Additional

  • Volunteer experience
  • Publications
  • Patents
  • Projects
  • Honours and awards
  • Test scores
  • Languages
  • Organisations
  • Causes

Keeping your profile up-to-date

It's tempting to think that once you've optimised your LinkedIn profile then that's it. Job done. Another task you can cross off your list. But it's important to remember that optimising your LinkedIn profile isn't a one-time job.

You need to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date on a semi-regular basis, and I recommend reviewing it every 3–6 months.

The areas that usually need to be updated most frequently are the summary section, adding in new testimonials or companies that you're working for and adding any new product or service information.

It's also a good idea to review all of the content on your profile page from time-to-time and include additional keywords that will help you get found by your target audience.

Hopefully you'll be adding new recommendations on a monthly basis and featuring as many of your new customers as recommendations as possible. Beyond that, things like your profile photo and background should ideally be reviewed at least once a year to ensure they still accurately reflect who you are and what you do.

Your LinkedIn profile optimisation tips

I think I've covered pretty much everything when it come to optimising LinkedIn profiles, but if you have any extra tips and tricks or LinkedIn marketing hacks, please share them in the comments below.

Rob Carter
Rob Carter

Rob Carter is a digital marketing expert with a genuine passion for helping businesses thrive online. Rob has been building websites and crafting marketing campaigns for over 20 years, and his creativity and analytical ability are highly sought after by businesses and non-profits around the world.

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