You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Your presence in the business world starts online, long before it gets to the boardroom. Think about it. Before you meet a potential new client you’ve likely Googled them once or twice to get a feel for who they are. Not matter how that person walks into your room, you have already made assessments on their personality, their character, and their skillset, based on impression that was made online.
LinkedIn, the hiring and networking hub of the business world, presents a tremendous opportunity to market yourself and your business. Employers and clients alike can be bought and sold on your LinkedIn profile summary alone. Every word is of value and every expression essential.
Here are four ways to maximize your digital presence and create a legendary LinkedIn profile summary:
Number One: The Power of “I”
The first pratfall of many LinkedIn users is their decision to write in the third person. Nothing sounds more stilted or bizarre than someone saying, “He proved himself as a valuable member of the team until he explore new ventures.” That would be a LinkedIn No-No. Everyone assumes you personally wrote your LinkedIn profile page and, whether subconsciously or not, will be slightly put off by the separation of your business accomplishments from your personal identity. Own up to your experiences and write in the power of “I.”
The power of the first-person conveys confidence in yourself by showing you aren’t afraid to express your opinion. The Greeks had a saying about “knowing thyself,” and that is a universally respected trait in the business world.
To play devil’s advocate, the third person may be useful for a particular line of work. If your desired job or industry places a premium on a certain intensity or seriousness, then it may serve you well to forego the more casual tone of the first person. Work in medical and legal fields, for example, may require the third person to further separate the individual from the lexicon typically used in that line of work.
Number Two: UVP Leads to MVP
Are you familiar with the UVP, or “unique value proposition?” If not, then consider it the appropriate acronym for your LinkedIn summary. The UVP combines your educational background, business experience, additional credentials, victories, testimonials, and other offerings that help you stand out from the crowd.
Building off the Greek aphorism of “knowing thyself,” you have to identify what you want. In business as in life, we don’t get what we don’t ask for, so in your profile summary, make sure each word guides the reader in the direction of your goals.
What do you want? Visibility? Great! Focus your summary on the mission statement of your personal business or company, why it was conceived, and what drives you to reach new heights on a daily basis.
If you’re searching for the next job or want to freelance, then skew your summary to politely vaunt your recent successes and past experiences. Assess how you stand out from the competition and, using your first person voice, build a narrative that not only conveys competence, but uniqueness in a world of imitators.
Your UVP will make you the MVP if you take the best ingredients and overlay them in a compelling LinkedIn profile summary. How do you know you’re on the right track? If your summary doesn’t look like the accounting department’s monthly statement, you’re probably doing it better than most. Use punchy verbs and concise descriptions that build on each characteristic: “I’m the go-to guy for detailed reports, but ask for a quick write-up on the bullet points and I’ll get it done.” Develop a tone of positivity and action to help your summary jump off the page.
Number Three: Start Strong
If your summary’s first sentence is strong, then you’ll be off to the races. You want tight wording, concise imagery, and a profile that gives potential employers and potential clients a reason to keep reading. Get out your resume but be selective with what makes it into your LinkedIn summary.
You want the best of the best. Look for phrases and facts that put you in the limelight. Pat phrases like “strong work ethic” and “solid team leader” may have worked in 2003, but they have since become platitudes that bore readers rather than inspire them. Instead, try word bursts that put you in the driver’s seat: “I make x, y, and z happen,” “A and B are in my wheelhouse,” or “I get 1, 2, and 3 done in land speed record.” Sure, they might sound a bit Ron Burgundy-ish, but isn’t that better than being the guy with the “Hello, My Name Is” nametag?
Find that blend between touting your accomplishments while remaining grounded and humble, but don’t shy away from writing with confidence. Start strong and you’ll finish stronger.
Number Four: Make Some Noise
Media is your friend. LinkedIn allows you to pepper your profile with video clips and images. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then you can easily eclipse your brief profile summary with captivating images.
As much as the business world seems to thrive on money, in actuality, it’s a business of people. While always remaining professional, don’t be afraid to let onlookers into your life a little bit. Show them that you’re a fun person to be around, possessing a sense of humor and an enthusiasm for life that would make you a valuable part of the team. If you enjoy golfing, sailing, or even reading a James Patterson novel, then let LinkedIn know. It makes you more accessible and increasingly likely to get an interview.
Additionally, if you have a public speaking video or a presentation of some kind, take a solid thirty-second clip from it and throw it on LinkedIn. Public speaking is reportedly people’s second greatest fear in America, so show the business world you’re not afraid to get behind a podium and give a speech.
LinkedIn is the modern gateway to opportunity. Given its value, however, it’s easy to feel pressure about making a great profile. By focusing on the process rather than the outcome, and following these four principles, you’ll have a page to be proud of. Write a strong opening paragraph in the first person, carefully mine your resume for truly unique and standout facts, and add compelling media to your page, your LinkedIn summary will make you the talk of the town. Lastly, remember that the UVP principle literally starts with you, and by chiseling out the qualities that make you unique in the business world, your LinkedIn summary page will really make some noise.