Even though LinkedIn remains the leading platform for professional networking, with 250 million monthly active users, very few people actually use the site to its full potential. A quick look at your peers’ profiles will show that most of these pages are incomplete or poorly structured. Another shocking discovery is that all too many LinkedIn profiles do not feature a summary, which is a huge mistake, to put it mildly. A summary is a part where you highlight your professional skills from a human perspective, while at the same time, optimize the contents of the search engines — all that in 2000 characters or less. Let’s see how you can achieve all of that without extra effort.
Think about your audience
People network on LinkedIn for a variety of purposes, and you have to fully understand yours. What is it you came here to do? Headhunt for talent? Look for job postings? Attract partners and investors? Those are only some of the examples of purposes your summary can serve, even though you are welcome to get even more specific than that when defining your networking goals.
Do not underestimate SEO
Then, there are the keywords. Sure, you are not supposed to dig deep into SEO, but you do have to understand that summaries are written not only for people but also for search engines — primarily, for LinkedIn recruiters, looking for some very specific skills. Some useful tools that should help you determine which keywords are the most beneficial for your LinkedIn summary are Google Trends and Google AdWords. Once again, you are not supposed to build an entire marketing campaign around your summary, but you should better optimize the description to rank higher in the LinkedIn search results.
Make it human
At the same time, your LinkedIn summary targets people, so you do have to make it readable and engaging. There are plenty of ideas on how you can achieve this very purpose. For instance, you could start off with something that describes you as a person rather than jumps straight to your skills. A dash of humor in the LinkedIn summary is also a nice idea that can catch the viewer’s eye. After all, we’re not working on APA style format cover page here so you can get a bit ‘loose.’
Remember the Golden Circle concept
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept is designed for businesses, but your LinkedIn profile is, essentially, a business — even if you are representing yourself, you are still positioning yourself as a personal brand. The concept itself is pretty simple. Instead of using the trite approach that describes WHAT you do, HOW you do it, and WHY you do it, you go the other way around — from why to what. For example:
WHY: We believe reliable information should be available to all people, no matter where they come from.
HOW: So, we build connections with the most experienced journalists from all over the globe.
WHAT: And deliver quality web content that is reliable and newsworthy.
Now, try to imagine what it would sound like if you followed the traditional, what-to-why approach. Not quite the same, right?
Highlight the accomplishments
While your LinkedIn summary should by no means resemble the rest of your profile (that is, a resume), it is always a wise idea to highlight your accomplishments. It is true that the summary should be short, and the most essential information should catch the eye before forcing users to click on the ‘view more’ button. However, just in case someone is tempted to click that magic button, mention the most prominent accomplishments in your career.
Don’t go over the top
Even though LinkedIn summary has a 2000-character limit (usually, that is somewhere between 300 and 350 words), you are not obliged to use all space available to you. In fact, less is often better than more, especially when it comes to professional networking. Sure, LinkedIn is not as ‘swift’ as Twitter, but neither it is as relaxing as Facebook. People come here for a purpose. People scan your profile for a purpose. Respect their time and effort and make your message as short and to the point as you can — without sacrificing any important details.
Avoid buzz words and cliches
Finally, avoid cliches by all means. What worked in 2016 is no longer relevant in 2018. Creative, motivated, strategic and the likes are the top words you should NOT be using when writing a LinkedIn summary. If you are truly creative, find other means to highlight this quality — show a ‘think different’ approach. If you are motivated, describe what it is that gets you going. The same goes for driven — another buzz word that makes everyone grind their teeth.
Sure, the tips above are only the essentials of writing a powerful LinkedIn profile summary. The rest depends on your industry standards and your own imagination. However, if you follow the recommendations mentioned above, you will get a clean start and will be able to build on these foundations later.
Author’s Bio: Kevin is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin & Google+.