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Optimizing Your Professional LinkedIn Profile

Optimizing Your Professional LinkedIn Profile

If you are on LinkedIn, you have seen plenty of articles that offer advice about how to use it effectively. If I know this, then why am I writing another post about LinkedIn? Simple: these tips came directly from someone who works at LinkedIn.

Ellevate Network invited Jennifer Urbanski, from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, to speak at an event where she also reviewed people’s profiles. 

LinkedIn has nine guidelines for a professional profile. These are just guidelines, and at times, it makes sense to go with what matches your personality and lifestyle, but still keeping things professional. 

9 Guidelines for a Professional LinkedIn Profile

  1. Background Photo
  2. Professional Headshot
  3. Headline: Title, Industry, 500+ connections
  4. Tiny URL
  5. Three-Paragraph Summary
  6. Work Experience
  7. Skills
  8. Volunteer Experience
  9. Status Updates and LinkedIn Publishing Platform

Background Photo

Make sure that you add a background image, because when visitors go to your profile, your background and profile images are the first things that they see. You want to make a great first impression. I recently changed my LinkedIn background after I read “Attract Your Buyers with 50+ Free LinkedIn Background Images [Offer]". At the end of this blog post, there is an offer to download LinkedIn backgrounds. I downloaded the zip file, selected a background image that I liked, uploaded it to, then customized it. That’s something you can do as well.

Professional Headshot

Add a professional photo to your LinkedIn profile because studies show that a profile with a professional photo receives 14 times more views than one without. No one wants to see an image of your dog or your company logo, they want to see you. 

Headline: Title, Industry, 500+ Connections

In the headline section, include what you do, your industry and your location. Explain what you do, demonstrating passion and value. Identify your community and build your credibility. You can build your credibility by having more than 500 connections, which demonstrates to visitors that you take your career seriously. 

If you have fewer than 500 connections, start making a list of colleagues from former companies, people with whom you went to university, people you met at networking events and while volunteering. You can also use the advanced search feature to identify the type of people you would like to connect with. Take 10 minutes a day to find these people on LinkedIn, then send them an invitation to connect, and please do not use the standard LinkedIn message, customize it to let the person know where you met and why you want to connect with him or her.

Further Reading

How to Write LinkedIn Messages That Actually Get Read

Want People To Accept Your LinkedIn Requests? Use These 10 Templates

Own Your URL

Customize your LinkedIn URL to improve your search engine rankings. You can also use your customized URL on your resume, business card and email signature. 

Go to your LinkedIn profile and make sure that you are in Edit Mode. At the top of your profile, just beneath the blue box that says “View profile as,” you will see your LinkedIn URL. If it has your name with some weird numbers and letters, that means it is not customized. 

To change that, hover the mouse beside your URL. You will see the Settings wheel. Click on it, and to the right side at the top of the page, you will see your URL with the edit image (looks like a pencil). Click on it. A box will appear. Write your name in the box then save. Having a customized URL increases your findability.

Three-Paragraph Summary

Paragraph One: Focus on Career Highlights. What is a common theme in your professional career? If you are an entrepreneur, state that.

Paragraph Two: What are you doing in your current role?

Paragraph Three: Let people know something personal about you such as your hobbies and volunteer work. People want to see the real you, and what makes you unique.

Work Experience

Distill your past work experience. A profile with complete work experience is viewed 12 times more than those without. You want it to sound conversational. In the work experience section of your profile, add examples of your work, videos, SlideShare presentations and images.


Add skills so that you can get endorsements. Even though you can add up to 50 skills, don't go overboard. Have only 10 skills listed on your profile. If you have more than 10, spend some time deciding which ones are the most important to what you do to maximize the number of endorsements you receive. 

To get endorsements, endorse others, because they will likely return the favor. The magic number for endorsement is 99, so when you are above that number, LinkedIn stops displaying the exact number of endorsements.

Volunteer Experience

A profile that includes volunteer experience is viewed six times more than those without because it shows what you are passionate about outside of work. Make sure that you split your volunteer work from the work you do for a living. 

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that Jennifer stated more than once that you have to look at your situation. While she was providing feedback regarding my profile, she indicated that if I wanted to keep my role in Ellevate with what I do for a living, it would be okay since I spend so much time performing that role even though it is non-paid work. This means that you should use your discretion when using the guidelines.

Status Updates and LinkedIn Publishing Platform

You want to be active on LinkedIn because you want to demonstrate to visitors that you take your career seriously, so share status updates. A status update could be an article, link, images or a combination. A tip is to use services such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your LinkedIn status updates. And you can use services such as Feedly, Prismatic and to find relevant content to share.

These days, people are going to LinkedIn to consume content, so it is important to upload content to LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform. Although I received permission a long time ago to publish what is known as long form articles on LinkedIn, I haven’t yet taken the plunge. When you publish on the platform, you increase engagement.

After you have used the guidelines to create a professional LinkedIn profile, I would like you to read two other posts that I wrote that pertains to LinkedIn. These posts will allow you to do even more with the social media platform for professionals.

Further Reading

Connect by Josh Turner, Book Review

3 Steps to LinkedIn Mastery by Alex Pirouz, Linkfluencer

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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