How To Make A Great LinkedIn Profile: 6 Ways To Stand Out And Shine

Every professional needs a great LinkedIn Profile. Other platforms may have more users, but LinkedIn is the world’s largest social network for professionals.

When it comes to generating leads, studies repeatedly point to it as the social media leader. A study by Hubspot revealed that:

It has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate among all social media platforms. That means the traffic is highly-targeted and already interested in what you and your business have to offer.

Clearly, you want to have a truly great LinkedIn profile that stands out and elevates your professional brand.

In this article, I’m going to identify the 6 key elements that consistently show up in great LinkedIn profiles.


1. A Great Linked In Profile Has A Professional Profile Image

Hire a professional photographer to create your profile image.

I have friends who swear they can create a selfie so impressive that it rivals what a professional photographer can do – and at least a few of them are right. But I stand by my opinion that “you get what you pay for”.

The images you use to promote your personal brand should be up-to-date and professional.

In addition to appearing at the top of your LinkedIn profile, your profile image shows up on every status update, post, search result and group discussion. You are identified (and judged) by that image.

Ask yourself, “How do I want to be perceived by others?” Make sure your profile image answers that question to your full satisfaction.

2. A Great LinkedIn Profile Uses A Customized Cover Photo

Don’t just upload an abstract background image.  Worse yet, do not leave that giant space blank.

This is an opportunity to communicate something about yourself.  And, unlike the profile photo, the cover photo is something you definitely can do yourself.

I am a big fan of Canva.  It offers templates for social media sites and makes it easy to create something visually appealing and properly sized.

LinkedIn can be tricky when it comes to sizing, so you may want to use Canva’s custom-size option. It often takes a bit of playing around with the cover image to get it right.

Remember that your LinkedIn profile looks different to you than it does to your connections and potential connections.  Take time to look at your profile from multiple perspectives and on various devices (phone, computer, tablet).

3. A Great Linked In Profile Features A Powerful Headline

Your LinkedIn headline should clearly tell readers what you do.  When someone reads your headline, they should immediately understand how you help people.

Are you the CEO of a massively well-known corporation?  Unless your answer is “yes”, I do not recommend leading with your job title and company name.

I am not disparaging your company – or mine.  I am just saying that the circle of brands that are universally recognized by name is VERY small.

Rather than identifying yourself by job title, hone in on your real skillsets – the value you bring into the workplace.

What is the difference between “what you do” and your “job title”?

Allow me to explain, using myself as the example:

My LinkedIn profile used to identify me as “Owner, Trust Communications Inc.” This actually told people very little about me.  In fact, it said virtually nothing about my areas of expertise.

After recognizing the problem, I changed my headline to read:

Digital Strategist | Content Designer | Brand Builder | Speaker. Want to grow your brand online? LET’S TALK!

See the difference? 

I now lead by drawing attention to my professional strengths. For the reader, this creates a stronger impression and identifies what I might do for them!

A Couple Of Things NOT To Put In Your Headline…

If you are  between  jobs, do not put your employment status in your headline. We all know that “seeking new opportunities” is business-speak for “out-of-work”.  It looks desperate. Focus on your skills and abilities.

On the subject of business speak – don’t use buzzwords! Stay clear of annoying titles like “Visionary”, “Guru”, “Superstar”, or ”Ninja”. Most people roll their eyes at these kinds of terms. And an eye roll is definitely NOT the reaction you want.

Avoid using jargon anywhere in the your profile. In fact, avoid it in any type of business communication!

4. A Great LinkedIn Profile Has An Impactful “About” Section 

The “About” section is the best place to showcase who you are and what you bring to the table.  Leaving this summary section blank or casually throwing some sentences into the space will do you a disservice in the long run.

There are countless online articles offering advice and examples.  Google “how to make a LinkedIn summary” and spend some time exploring creative ideas.

Remember that your summary also tells visitors about your communication skills.  So make sure it’s structurally well-written.  Nothing creates a worse first impression than spelling errors and sloppy punctuation.

Focus on making sure the first two lines are compelling – and can stand on their own.  When someone looks at your profile, those two lines will be all that they see, unless they click “see more”.

4. A Great LinkedIn Profile Has Social Proof

As we all remember from elementary school, the most engaging part of “Show and Tell” was definitely SHOW.

Social proof is how you SHOW people that what you are telling them is true. There are several types of social proof you can use in your LinkedIn profile, including:

  • Recommendations
  • Awards
  • Statistics
  • Books and/or Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Publications/websites that have published your authority content

Of the available options, the most valuable is inarguably recommendations! There is nothing better than having REAL people contribute testimonials.

Even if you are in the early stages of your career, you should be able to get at least 2 or 3 recommendations. Besides past employers and clients, you might look for recommendations from co-workers, teachers, volunteer leaders, community leaders, etc.

6. A Great LinkedIn Profile Has Complete Contact Information

You want people to connect with you.  At a minimum, the contact section should include an email address, phone number, website, and social media links.

And set up a custom LinkedIn url. It looks more professional and it is more effective from an SEO perspective.

Remember to keep your contact information up-to-date.  Nothing sends up a red flag like a disconnected phone number or a link to a website that is no longer available.

Final Words

After you have done everything possible to create a truly great LinkedIn profile, keep the momentum going:

  • Send LinkedIn invitations to existing business connections
  • After networking events, make it a habit to send LinkedIn invitations to people.  This is a great way to solidify those new relationships!
  • Don’t obsess about follower count.  Instead, focus on interacting with your existing connections. Check the news feed daily.  Make positive comments.  Share posts.  LinkedIn is a “social” network – so be social!
  • Ask clients and collaborators to provide LinkedIn references. Keep adding to your arsenal of social proof! And don’t forget to provide LinkedIn references to others!
  • And remember that your LinkedIn profile is a living online document.  Keep it up-to-date!
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