Countless research has been done on how crucial it is to maintain a good LinkedIn presence. According to one study, 154 million workers in the U.S. alone have LinkedIn profiles, while the remaining 70 percent of users span across 200 other countries around the globe.
Approximately 91 percent of company executives rate LinkedIn as their #1 resource for content that is professionally relevant, and 30,000 American companies use LinkedIn to recruit—but how can you be found if you don’t know how to optimize your LinkedIn profile?
Housing so many active profiles of CEOs and HR people, it’s clearly not a platform to overlook. And we’re going to make sure yours stacks up so you don’t miss out on countless opportunities. Keep on reading to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile—and more precisely, why it should be a nonnegotiable on your to-do list.
Why LinkedIn Has Become Such a Powerful Tool
When it comes to sales outreach, it’s important to optimize the entire cycle to make sure it converts and is highly personalized. That way, you can hit all the right numbers for sales effectiveness. This is especially true when it comes to optimizing your LinkedIn profile. As technology has developed over the last several years, so have outreach strategies. And, in terms of understanding what converts, shifts in the market came with it.
In today’s digital landscape, everybody needs to have an online presence. When you’re doing business, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to convert B2B or B2C—you need to position yourself in the business world correctly. Knowing how to optimize your LinkedIn profile will prove to be a perfect tool in creating an image for yourself—otherwise known as branding yourself.
Why You Should Build and Curate Your Own Page
Branding yourself allows you to present things to the world as you want them to be seen. Instead of simply hoping for opportunities—both in hiring and networking—optimizing your LinkedIn profile allows you to take control and become active instead of passive.
Creating your LinkedIn profile doesn’t cost anything. So just start.
Optimizing your profile doesn’t cost anything either if you know how to do it—and if you don’t, you can always outsource it to a freelancer for what would be a nominal fee in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to your career, it’s worth it.
There are very few good reasons to not get a profile going on the platform. At the very least, you should be present on LinkedIn to help people to get to know more about you and your company. Think about it this way: you’re not doing your job and your work in secret. Again, LinkedIn is completely free, and everybody is there. You need to get out there to meet the right people, develop the company, and make a name for yourself—no excuses.
People’s Typical Pain Points When Searching on LinkedIn
Profiles can be for individuals, companies, and beyond. When thinking about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you need to put yourself in others’ shoes. What people search for depends on their wants and needs. So, like many things when it comes to inbound marketing and sales effectiveness, it depends on the person. Let’s say there are three main types of people, or “personas,” who go on LinkedIn.
The first is the CEO or company owner. Every business comes with challenges. Some of the biggest challenges that any CEO has are how to grow their company, how to outsource something, and how to reach the goals for the year, the last quarter, etc.
They’ll likely turn to LinkedIn with a solutions-oriented mindset to see what other people are doing, in hopes that something enlightening will pop up. They’re not generally the most active in reaching out to people for help directly, unless it’s a very small business. Often, when they see what other CEOs are doing, they’ll try to pull some valuable information from them. They might try to copy their online presence or branding or look to them for inspiration, to stay on trend, and to maintain a leader-like appearance in the minds—or, on the screens—of others.
The second main profile type is HR professionals. These are the hiring managers trying to find candidates for recruitment. They go in there thinking, “I need to fill my team. I’m a manager, so I need to find great additions. And I’m going to do that personally because that’s the most practical for me.”
So they’re going to go on LinkedIn and set their preferences, type in the appropriate keywords, and go by targeted location. Then they’ll check out various profiles, send them direct messages, and see who’s the best fit. They are usually not looking at what other people are doing as much as CEOs. Because they are mostly focused on solving the hiring and talent issue, they don’t usually need more than a basic profile.
They may not feel they personally need to have the most optimized profile but will expect you to know how to optimize yours if you’re really trying to be found. They’re likely to appreciate the effort and knowledge about the digital space—and the fact that you’re helping them find you when they have very busy schedules, generally.
The third type is neither the CEO nor the HR professional’s profile, but the general profile—the individual, the worker. There are some marketers, designers, and app developers that are sending CEOs or managers messages that say, “I want to work. I have these skills. Do you need to fill this position?” And that’s not a bad way to find a job. If we think back to those impressive statistics we saw in the introduction concerning the sheer quantity of decision-makers who are on LinkedIn, it’s a smart thing to do.
But often, people can be clumsy with their outreaches. They might be good developers, digital marketers, or whatever their vocation is, but they do not know how to approach people. Essentially, they don’t know how to ensure sales effectiveness. They’re selling themselves, their talents.
They’ll send a large message and talk about all their value and experiences. But unfortunately, no one wants to read a long message. For this reason, they’re not always so successful in their quests.
There are plenty of people on LinkedIn who are offering their services—they can go in this third category as well. The sub-part of the third persona is the people who are completely inactive but just have a profile living there. It’s there, they have it, and that’s it. It collects virtual dust because it’s not really used. This person just created a profile because they heard it’s good to have one, and they may or may not have done basic optimization. In other words, it’s a profile that’s just standing there when it could have been something.
This is one of the biggest wastes. You need to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. We’ll get to some tips later on some essentials to have in there for when you’re ready to take that step in making something of your profile—and not letting relatively easy successes pass you by.
Why Some Have Not Yet Created a Page (or Simply Fail to Keep Their Profiles Updated)
Some legal companies that are handling highly sensitive matters might have a company-wide ban on saying where they work on social media, for at least a period of time. Obviously, in such a situation, not posting to social media makes sense. We’d say most other reasons aren’t viable.
If we haven’t already made it abundantly apparent, let’s say it again for crystal-clear clarification: You absolutely need to have LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile, create one. No matter what it is that you do—whether you have a small bakery or restaurant, you run a software company, or you’re a private driver—it’s important to have an account. And it’s equally crucial you learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Anybody who has a job is there. Those that don’t have a profile yet are likely unaware of modern trends (which in itself can be dangerous in the digital age), or they’re a little scared of social media and everything that comes with it. They feel they simply don’t have the time, patience, or courage to conquer it.
There are people who are younger, too, who aren’t utilizing LinkedIn. It’s so much more complicated to them than other social media platforms, so they choose to stay away. It may be hard to believe considering social media’s prevalence in millennial culture, but even young people sometimes prefer to keep their lives private. They feel insecure if they put information about their professional life and work experience online, and are skeptical about the results if they do so.
This just means they don’t understand LinkedIn. They never learned enough about it. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.
The Differentiating Factor—Do It Anyway
For those who are hesitant to create a profile in the first place, let’s sort something out. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat we’re talking about. Know that this is not a platform where you put your favorite song or information for others to know everything about you on a personal level. People on LinkedIn don’t need to know what you had for lunch or what you did with your friends over the weekend.
It’s a professional tool for people to learn about you—but only the stuff you really need them to know. That’s the difference.
Once you fully understand how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you’ll see LinkedIn is not about telling everybody everything. It’s about being strategic and telling your audience things that are valuable for your career. So no, people are not largely stalked on LinkedIn. Some people may think that since they have other social media accounts, it’s unnecessary to have this one. They might assume they’re all basically the same. Or there simply might be a fear of the unknown. This article will help alleviate that fear by showing a LinkedIn profile’s inherent value. Let’s explain what you do and do not want to do.
Components That Make Up a Great LinkedIn Profile
For one thing, many people are found through LinkedIn when they are looking for new jobs. If it’s all about sales effectiveness, then the “sale” in this case would be selling the idea of your company to the candidate. You want to make your workplace sound so wonderful that people apply.
There have been a great number of cases where employees cited that a hiring manager contacted them due to a well-optimized profile. We’ll call these success stories … wouldn’t you?
If you’re a job seeker, you truly might not have to do much additional work if your LinkedIn profile is already optimized. Hiring managers will often find candidates through the algorithms and SEO, like what they see on their page, and reach out to them—which is one part of understanding why getting on top of how to optimize your LinkedIn profile is so useful.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile—Even If You Don’t Know Much About SEO
LinkedIn Learning has some helpful courses on how to optimize your profile. You’ll have to pay for a LinkedIn premium account to watch their best courses, but it’s well worth the investment.
You might think you know everything there is to know about your business, but there are business strategies and SEO kernels you may not be aware of. You might have even considered yourself an SEO expert at one point, but now there are new lessons to learn which may not have applied a few years ago. Things are always changing, but LinkedIn Learning’s online courses will help you fill the holes in this particular knowledge gap.
Utilizing the power of the internet to jumpstart or fuel your career in this digital era has a lot to do with lead generation and sales effectiveness, or optimization. Just like hiring managers can help you find future employees, you can also find customers or business partners by knowing how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. And it really works. Thousands can testify to the usefulness of this unique and robust social platform.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: Step 1 – Say Cheese
If you’re not ready to take the classes, here are some basics you’ll want to start with when putting together a decent profile. First things first: a photo. Let’s learn how to be “picture perfect” for business. Your photo should not be you with your cat, a bunch of friends at a party, or your family at an amusement park. It needs to be professional—something more like a driver’s license photo or headshot. Many business conferences offer professional photography services for this very reason.
Or, try a photo of you on the job, or at a networking event or workshop. If you’re a driver, you could be in a car, or if you’re a baker or a restaurant owner, you could be tending to related tasks in the kitchen. These are all good examples of profile photos—just make sure your face is visible. You need to be looking straight at the camera and smiling, with fair lighting. People constantly overlook how simple yet key this can be in others taking them seriously.
Similarly to Facebook, you also have the option to set a cover photo. If you’re a freelancer, consider uploading an image of your organized desk with a calendar being scheduled, and perhaps props of what you like to have next to you while working. When looking around your page and determining how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, be sure you’re representing what you do best. A business motto, company tagline, or something else to try to further position your brand.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: Step 2 – Be Social
The company page is like the top of a pyramid, and employees’ profiles help create that pyramid. People do follow companies, and there are some companies that are really impactful on LinkedIn.
Like everything in business, your page will function differently depending on what your goal is, which will help dictate how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. Do you want to dominate the market? Then definitely at least be sure to have an active company page. You need to have followers and represent yourself well to others.
But generally, people like people more than they like companies. So it depends on how you build your brand. Everybody knows who Elon Musk is, for example. He is a greater brand, himself, than any of his companies. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are like that, as well. But in some smaller companies, you don’t have the same big-name, famous CEOs. So you’re going to push the company and the brand more than the CEO.
As for the employees connected to a company’s profile, be bold and keep it interesting, but don’t embarrass anyone. For your own page, you’ll have quite a bit more free range than if working on a business’s page. While it’s a greater shame if you have a poor company page than the employee page, always consider the reputation and all that you may represent when everything is linked (allow the name of the platform itself to serve as an ever-present reminder). Make sure you have comments and likes and that you know what to post, what not to post, and when to post.
Ask your coworkers or your managers how you should edit your personal profile, if there are any company rules, etc. Think, is there anything that should be changed? Added? Comments you should refrain from making due to certain positioning?
You want to be coherent with the brand too. Focus on your image in addition to figuring out how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for SEO purposes. Enhance your page for human eyes, thoughts, and feelings—not just algorithms. Bots might not know how to detect a touchy subject, but you will quickly know if something isn’t taken well publicly if you post something that shouldn’t be posted.
What’s Best NOT to Include for an Effective Profile
We already discussed some things that would be positive for your page and that certain things could have negative results. Here are some more items to be avoided so you will have a more well-rounded guide.
Keep It Relevant. Keep It Current.
In learning how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you want to be sure you’re really only including what is interesting to the people you want to find your profile.
Let’s say, for example, you have 30 years of working experience. And in that time, you worked at three coffee shops, as a busser in a fast-food restaurant, and delivering newspapers. After that, you started working at a marketing agency. While it’s really valuable that you worked somewhere as a young person, McDonald’s is not going to be relevant experience when it comes to what you want to do long term.
Those are the kinds of things you don’t want to say because you’re no longer who you were then if you’re now working as, let’s say, a digital marketing expert. You can partly think of your profile as a living, interactive digital resume. Your current and future bosses probably won’t care if you worked at that McDonald’s years ago.
They care if you know how to position them, run their ads, write their articles, create content for them, and help them transform their company. That’s what you should be talking about when figuring out how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. When you’re writing your profile description, the first question should be, “For whom am I writing this?” You’re writing it for your future employees, future bosses, colleagues, HR professionals, the clients of your company, and maybe even the customers of your clients.
Be Influential. Provide Value.
You want somebody with a problem to come to LinkedIn looking for an expert’s solution and find your profile as a result of their search query. When your page pops up, they will ideally get the sense that you understand their challenges and might be a great resource to them.
If all goes according to plan, they will say hello by messaging you directly within the platform, comment on a post of yours, or go straight to your email outside the platform because you stocked your profile with all the right contact information. Do not forget to include your current email address, as some people, for whatever reason, don’t often use the LinkedIn messenger feature.
In a way, your profile is like inbound marketing on LinkedIn. If we think about the bigger picture, having a great LinkedIn page is really all part of having a comprehensive inbound sales and marketing strategy, as it brings people in through another avenue. This is just one of the many reasons you’ll want to have a good handle on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
How to Create Your First Page or Increase the Effectiveness of Your Existing Page
Once you’ve gotten the hang of how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to target people at the level of authority you are looking for. You need to target decision-makers like CFOs and CEOs. Whatever you determine is needed for your company, set your sights on finding them. Then, become active by interacting. Have a conversation. Liking articles and endorsing people is appreciated and gets noticed. There is a balance, though.
Stay Active, but Not “Too” Active—Balance Is Key
You don’t want to be endorsing 70 people every day, as your account could be seen as spam and get suspended. Five or six people per day can be endorsed, and 50 to 75 people per day can be added to help you work your way up to an account built on connecting with a minimum of 5,000 followers and connections.
When you’re at that point, you’ve established yourself as an authority and can start doing outreach with a better chance of success. You can, of course, start doing some outreach before hitting a high number of followers and connections, but you’re going to have better conversion numbers if you appear more established. If people don’t like what you post on LinkedIn, it won’t work quite as well, which is why you want your posts to be quality articles and opinions. Make what you say matter.
You could also potentially waste your contacts and leads if you start reaching out way too early in the process. When you have about 5,000 connections, you’re considered “rockstar” status on LinkedIn. But once you are confident that you know how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, don’t forget to allow yourself to still be influenced, rather than just having a goal of becoming an influencer. As mentioned earlier, look around for people with plenty of followers and see what they’re doing. It’s one of the easiest ways to become successful in this journey.
Do Your Homework: Stay on Top of Trends; Get to Know the Influencers
Keep in mind that if things don’t seem to be working right away, that is fine. Keep at it and stay active. You might feel that you know the basics of how to optimize your LinkedIn profile but aren’t seeing the point in sticking to it. Perhaps you’re very eager and aren’t seeing speedy results, so you’re feeling like giving up. Keep yourself updated and continue to share content and connect with the right people who can help you progress your career. It’s a process, not a race.
Remember that everything good takes time. After a while, you’re going to get the hang of it and realize exactly what you need to do. You’ll get a better sense of what your targeted audience reacts to and what kinds of articles are good to share and why. When your profile reaches that first rung of 5,000, you’re really on your way.
We’ve Seen the Proof Firsthand. If It’s Worked for Us, It Can Work for You.
Our CEO, Peter Lang, has nearly 17,000 followers. In many cases, through our outreach process, Peter merely had to visit a profile to get a response from that person because he has established a worthy, influential brand on LinkedIn and elsewhere. He has positioned himself and his company as a leader and authority in a space. Thus, he did not even have to comment or add anything of particular value in a direct message to initiate communication.
Simply visiting someone’s page will send a notification their way that we are checking out their profile. In turn, they will reach out to see if we can help them with their marketing strategy. In several of these situations, we are actually at the point in our sales process where we are about to close on these leads. We simply cannot stress networking enough.
That’s why we are stressing to people to use LinkedIn as much as possible. The tips in this article will help you utilize the platform in a powerful way so you can get the results boost you long for. If you need more help with how to optimize your LinkedIn profile and general sales effectiveness, we have experts always available for you to get in touch with for further strategic advice. Or, leave a comment for us below to tell us what you think. What have you been doing that works or doesn’t work as well as you’d thought? We’d love to hear.