Before attending any event, I look up attendees’ and presenters’ LinkedIn profiles to learn more about them. This helps me come up with relevant questions and discussion points. An interesting pattern popped up. When the people are a senior executive, CEO, or in any other C-level position, sometimes their profile appeared vacant.
A typical profile lists their current job, their past positions, and little else. In fact, I had a meeting with the CEO of a company. You can guess what I did before meeting with him. Yup, I looked him up on LinkedIn. He had no photo, listed his three most recent positions without a description, and joined a couple of groups related to his industry. He didn’t have the all-important summary either.
One CEO’s story
I asked Chris (not his real name) about his LinkedIn profile, explaining that I was curious. He said that he had a successful career and didn’t need to work anymore. He started his company simply because he was passionate about his company’s products. He didn’t feel the need to have a complete profile based on his standing.
This attitude isn’t unusual, especially among older executives who still know LinkedIn primarily as a resume site. But LinkedIn has changed substantially over the past five years.
Chris constantly works to sell his product to other companies. Needless to say, he would love any publicity for his company. As do most executives. That right there is a good reason to put effort into your LinkedIn profile.
According to the Public Relations Global Network, there’s an 80 percent chance a journalist will look up an executive’s LinkedIn and other social media profiles prior to an interview. What executive wants to miss out on an interview?
Don’t miss out on publicity and being sought out
The 2014 Social CEO Report from CEO.com has found that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have zero social media presence. However, of those who join one network, 74 percent start with LinkedIn. Some of those may be your competitors.
The report says that taking advantage of social media lets the CEO represent the company’s image, build relationships with the media and employees, and put a face on a company. No matter your successes or number of connections, creating a complete LinkedIn profile does a lot for your company.
Executives may be able to get away with a thinner profile, but not so thin that people pass on their profiles. The key is to demonstrate leadership and to reach your target audience. Jump ahead of your competitors with these tips to build out your LinkedIn profile.
4 ways to create a strong LinkedIn profile
At a minimum, here are four things you must do to create a strong LinkedIn profile.
1. Post a professional photo.
The first thing to do is upload a photo that reflects your personality. If you never wear a business suit, then a photo of you wearing one wouldn’t be ideal. If you can, skip doing anything else on LinkedIn until you check this off. (If you don’t have a good photo, get one as soon as you can. Here are tips for a good LinkedIn profile photo.)
Many ignore a profile without a photo and move on to the next professional.
2. Tailor your LinkedIn profile to your target audience.
The CEO of a startup looking to partner with small businesses will have a different profile than someone who is a CFO at a publicly-traded company looking to impress industry analysts, stakeholders, and the press. Executives looking to generate leads would create a profile with keywords targeting small businesses based on the target’s industry, role, and problem that needs solving.
The way you talk to small business owners is different from IP lawyers, help desk managers, or Wall Street analysts. Furthermore, a B2C conversation is from a B2B one. It’s about speaking the right language, getting the tone right, and talking at the right level.
The CFO at the publicly-traded company would include slides, videos, and links to any interviews, presentations, and articles. Executives looking to attract journalists want to make it easy for them to notice they’re available for interviews and how to contact them. For extra help, refer to 8 tips to write a compelling LinkedIn profile summary.
3. Write a strong summary.
The section with all your current and past positions looks like a resume, as it should. That’s what makes the summary more important. You can highlight the most important things you’d like your audience to know about you in a narrative. This gives you an opportunity to tell your story with an emphasis on what you want them to know about you and what action to take after reading profile.
Seeking interviews? Tell them about known publications and resources that have interviewed you. Also highlight your expertise in the topics you’d like to discuss. If you’ve given keynotes or presentations on the topic, this would be a good place to mention it.
Remember to include media from presentations, if you have them. Again, mention how people can reach you. The more contact options you provide, the better your chances of being contacted. Whatever your goals for your target market in LinkedIn, tell your professional story with those goals in mind.
4. Fill in the details on your most recent positions.
Many executives leave these blank. You don’t have to write a book in describing your most recent positions. Keep it simple. Explain what the company does and how you helped the company achieve its goals. If you want to go the extra mile, check out LinkedIn profile tips for CEOs.
If you’re familiar with the TV show “Shark Tank,” you know the sharks on that show aren’t wanting for anything. They’re successful business owners and celebrities. No one will refuse to take their calls. Yet, they’ve made the effort to have complete LinkedIn profiles:
- Robert Herjavec: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/robertherjavec
- Barbara Corcoran: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/barbara-corcoran/74/718/7a7
- Daymond John: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daymondjohn
Examples of strong CEO LinkedIn profiles
Here are more executive profiles to inspire you as you work on yours.
Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group
Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO of Mightybell
Scott Case, founding CTO of priceline.com
Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin
Clara Shih, CEO of HearSay Social
Daniel Solove, president and CEO, TeachPrivacy
Brad Smith, president and CEO, Intuit
David H. Stevens, President and CEO, Mortgage Bankers Association
Randi Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg Media, founder and CEO
Know an executive with a strong LinkedIn profile? Tell us in the comments.