Before they meet with you, other executives will search online to learn more about you. Your LinkedIn profile is almost certain to be one of the top search results, so odds are good that’s one of the links they will click.
Your LinkedIn profile, unlike some of the other links they will find, is fully under your control. It gives you an excellent opportunity to craft what people find out about you.
Here are some tips for making your LinkedIn profile stronger…
Set the tone with your summary
People often read the summary first. It’s one of the most interesting sections in a profile because it tells your business story. Stories draw people in.
Use the summary to reveal who you are, what’s important to you and what your vision is for the company. Some CEOs showcase accomplishments, some use humor, others add a personal touch by revealing the things they enjoy outside of work.
Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, opens with “Thought leader, dog lover and serial entrepreneur, he has redefined the face of social media — bringing Twitter, Facebook and other social networks out of the dorm room and into the boardroom.” He goes on to explain how he has grown his company, followed by personal insights of what he did before HootSuite.
He also mentions what he’s an authority on, and backs it up with a mention of being quoted in known publications and speaking at conferences. His LinkedIn summary states that he’s interested in being interviewed and speaking at events. Holmes closes with personal information about his family, how he spends his free time, and a fun fact.
What does this tell you about him? His company? His bio matches the tone and personality of his company’s emails, blogs and articles.
Show you’re well-connected
LinkedIn lists how many connections each person has, but stops counting publicly after 500. That’s the magic number to exceed. As a CEO it should be easy for you to reach 500 and let visitors see your ability to connect with others.
Visitors to your profile will check to see which connections you have in common. So making the effort to be connected to people they respect is worth the effort.
Ideally, you want to be connected to partners, key customers, your executive team, employees, and influencers in your industry, including editors and bloggers.
Back up your experience with recommendations
In the experience section, people typically list what they do and their responsibilities. Many CEOs skip those details, assuming that everyone knows what a CEO does.
That’s true, but why not include your accomplishments? You have done a lot for and with your business – it makes sense to let the executives who are visiting your LinkedIn profile know what you’ve done. Ask yourself: In doing my job, what results am I most proud of? What results did my company get for our customers?
To personalize and reinforce your experience, verify you have recommendations for your current and most recent positions. It takes more thought and effort to write a recommendation than to do an endorsement for a skill. The most valuable ones come from partners and customers. Ask them for recommendations. Most will oblige.
Another way to get their recommendations is to write one for them. Imagine how impressed they’ll be when it comes from a CEO. When a person receives a new recommendation, LinkedIn typically sends an email with the notification and asks if the person wants to return the favor. In many cases, they’ll do it.
Boost exposure for your ideas
Pump up your profile with photos, slideshows, videos and articles. Media adds color, visuals and breaks up the noise from all the text.
You can use your LinkedIn profile to get additional exposure for messages, values or something that’s important to you by posting related presentations and articles on your profile.
If you want more speaking engagements, include videos of you speaking. Open to media interviews? Add articles that quote you like Ryan Holmes did.
Expand your reach beyond your individual connections
Following people and companies isn’t the same thing as being connected to individuals. For one, you don’t have to know someone you follow. For another, it’s a simple way of showing interest. Make a concerted effort to follow the right people such as business and industry thought leaders you respect, important partners and valued customers.
A CEO of a software company, for example, would follow respected experts and influencers in tech. This includes writers, bloggers and editors who often cover tech topics or work for a tech publication. Thought leaders include known experts like CEOs and CTOs from other tech companies, industry analysts and tech consultants.
You’ll also want to follow company pages of partners, clients, publications, organizations in your industry, and complementary companies that could be potential partners.
Join group conversations to meet future clients and influencers
One of the best places to meet people and build relationships is through LinkedIn groups. You can join up to 50 groups. At a minimum, join 20.
The best groups to join are those your customers belong to. You will probably also want to join some relating to your industry and the type of work you do. A CEO of a software company with a target market of people on sales teams would look for groups related to tech and sales. (LinkedIn has more than 2 million groups now – a quick search for the keywords “tech” and “sales” gives more than 250 results!)
You might also look for groups for alumni and your favorite nonprofit organizations. They make great places to cultivate relationships since you already have some connection with the people there. With alumni, you share school spirit. With nonprofits, you share a passion for what the organization supports.
Help people find your company’s resources
It’s surprising how many CEOs’ LinkedIn profiles omit links. Most have a link to their company’s website, but not to their blogs and Twitter feed. You can add links to other important and regularly updated websites and profiles, such as your Google Plus or corporate Facebook page and your company’s support page. Make it easy for people to find what they need or want from your company and its related resources.
What does your profile say about you and your company?