Answer honestly: would you be happy for a prospective client to take a look at your LinkedIn profile before they’ve met you or seen any of your other profiles and work online?
That’s exactly what many of them will be doing.
And yet, I’ve looked at hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyers’, accountants’ and engineers’ profiles on LinkedIn and an overwhelming number do not create a good first impression…
…which doesn’t make sense when you consider the importance you place on your professional reputation.
Why would these people be looking at my LinkedIn profile?
If you’ve ever Googled yourself you’ll know that LinkedIn profiles appear high up search engine results. Often they appear just below (or even above) your website profile.
This, coupled with the fact that, according to some 2011 research by BTI Consulting in the US, the top two ways clients find lawyers (I believe this would be similar for other professions) are:
- Peer-to-peer recommendations
- Online search
No surprises with personal recommendations. Of course, people will reach out to those they know and trust for recommendations. But what BTI Consulting found, is that often prospective clients will get two or three names. Instead of calling those 2 or 3 people they’ll do an online search. What are they going to find? You can’t dictate where people click: they could just as easily click on your LinkedIn profile as they could your website profile.
Bottom line: you could be missing out on ideal business (you don’t even know about) simply because you haven’t set aside the time to craft a good LinkedIn profile.
So, in this post, I’m taking it back to BASICS because it really matters.
Your LinkedIn profile checklist
Even if you think your profile does a good job positioning you, look through the checklist below to see if there are any improvements you could make:
1. Have you set up your profile background and does it clearly position you? Click to download a guide on how to create and upload your background banner.
2. Have you uploaded a professional, up-to-date photo? LinkedIn says that profiles with photos are 7x more likely to be viewed than profiles without.
3. Does your professional headline clearly position you? If you’re using LinkedIn to grow your practice then your professional headline is an opportunity to position yourself. When you connect with others, their connections can see that they’ve connected to you and your headline. When you start, or comment on, group discussions, your professional headline is displayed prominently. For that reason, instead of simply stating your job title, state who you help and what you help them with. Alternatively set out your key areas of specialisation or use your headline to ask a question that will resonate with those you wish to engage e.g. Are you looking for commercial legal advice from someone who has been involved in running businesses?
4. Have you included your postcode in your location information? The key reason for doing so is that your profile appears in relevant location-based search results that other LinkedIn users may perform.
5. Have you personalised your public profile URL? When you join LinkedIn you are assigned a public profile URL, which comprises your name and some randomly-assigned digits. If someone searches for you in Google then your LinkedIn profile will be returned in the search results but will often appear as ‘there are  people called John Smith on LinkedIn’. The reason for personalising your URL is to make sure your profile appears before others who share your name.
6. Have you included your contact info so people viewing your profile can get in touch?
7. Have you written your summary with your goals in mind? If you’re on LinkedIn to grow your practice then your summary shouldn’t read like a CV. It’s a marketing piece that should be designed to position you and clearly communicate the types of people you can assist and the issues with which you can assist them.
It should answer the following questions:
- Who do you help?
- What do you help them with?
- What’s your approach to working with your clients and/or what do you like about what you do?
- What do you enjoy outside of work?
And contain a call to action such as ‘If you have a commercial dispute you wish to resolve, please do get in touch. Phone XXX or Email YYY.’
8. Have you added links to and/or uploaded authorised marketing materials to your profile? Research continues to highlight that people like visual content so this is a way to showcase your expertise and stand out from your competitors. LinkedIn allows you to add links and upload files to various sections of your profile including the Summary section (you can do so in any section which has the box and plus sign icon). This results in a richer profile and allows you to evidence your capabilities and experience as well as those of your firm. You should check your firm’s guidelines about what you can and can’t upload.
9. Have you completed the experience section? Add your current job title to the Experience section of your profile. In order to have a complete profile on LinkedIn, the network wants you to list at least two previous employers in addition to your current role. However, it’s up to you whether or not you do so.
10. Have you researched your keywords and incorporated these into your summary section, your current job title and the skills and endorsements section? You can use a free tool such as Google Keyword Selector to find these out.
11. Have you added your skills in the skills and endorsements section? You can insert up to 50 skills. Repeating 3-5 main keywords (those words people will search when looking for someone with your skills) will help you appear higher up the LinkedIn search rankings and there’s another really good reason why you need to list your skills…
You may have seen a blue box pop up on your LinkedIn homepage suggesting that you endorse someone for a particular skill. Some of these suggestions can be arbitrary. To ensure that LinkedIn suggests others endorse you for the skills for which you want to be recognised, complete the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile. Alternatively, opt out of being included in endorsement suggestions.
12. Have you completed the Education section of your profile?
13. Have you completed the Additional info section? You do NOT need to add personal details unless you wish to do so but we do recommend completing the Interests section and the Advice for Contacting [YOUR NAME] section. People tend to work with people they like and so including your interests may strike a chord with others who share your passions. At the very least it will create a good conversation opener when meeting someone for the first time. The Advice for contacting [YOUR NAME] section allows you to specify who you do/don’t want to hear from – so if you’re not interested in sales pitches or hearing from recruitment consultants then say so.
14. Are there any sections you wish to add to your profile? There are a number of other sections you can add to your profile. These appear towards the top of your profile page, just below the first section (containing your photo and headline info). If you are just setting up your profile, some of the sections mentioned above will be located here – you will need to manually add them to your profile.
15. Have you made a list of content you can publish to LinkedIn? There are some key reasons why you might want to:
- Whenever you publish to LinkedIn, your connections get notified that you have published a new post and the title. They see this when they log into LinkedIn. This means that even if they log in a week, or a month, after you’ve published, they will still see the notification. If you simply shared a status update, it would disappear from people’s newsfeeds pretty quickly, often without many of them having seen it.
- Posts published to LinkedIn are searchable, meaning they can get found by people on the platform looking for information about a particular topic. Plus there is the possibility one or two of your posts will be picked up by a Pulse channel (which is why you’ll want to tag them to make it easy for LinkedIn to categorise). Hundreds if not thousands of people follow each Pulse channel so it’s a way to increase your content’s reach.
- Publishing to LinkedIn is also a permanent, easy to access, showcase of your content. Your 3 most recent posts appear towards the top of your LinkedIn profile, directly below the box containing your photo and professional headline, and above the summary section. These posts are one of the first things people will see when they look at your profile. To view more of your posts, they can simply click on the words See more (which appear above the three most recent posts).