How to write a great LinkedIn profile

How to write a great LinkedIn profile

Aside from analysing LinkedIn profiles and groups for my clients and using LinkedIn to identify, research and qualify potential clients for my own VA business, I also used to write loads of LinkedIn profiles as part of my CV writing business – so when it comes to LinkedIn, I’ve seen it all! There are good profiles and truly dreadful profiles – here’s what a good one looks like:

Why do you need a LinkedIn profile?

  • Because the point of LinkedIn is to act as a place where people can do business with each other.
  • You can write loads more on your LinkedIn profile than you can on your CV and you get to show exactly how you’re good at what you do and why someone might want to work with you.
  • LinkedIn groups not only provide a ton of information but are full of people who would hire you, collaborate with you or recommend you.
  • LinkedIn’s SEO is so good that if someone Googles you, your LinkedIn profile will come up at the top of page one and before your own website.
  • If you’re a freelancer then people will Google you.
  • You can’t use my Method of How to Get New Clients without a good LinkedIn profile – it’s part and parcel of the entire method.

As a Virtual Assistant you need to make sure that when someone looks at your LinkedIn profile they clearly and quickly see what you do, who you do it for and whether you’re any good at it because nobody will hire you if they’re not sure exactly what you do for people and why that might be valuable to them.

This article will ensure they do.

How to write a great LinkedIn profile

Don’t bombard everyone with your updates

Before you even start to fiddle with your actual profile, go to your Settings and change what people can see about you otherwise everyone will get a notification each time you change anything and press save.

It’s turned on by default and it’s really annoying, so hover over your profile photo, choose Privacy & Settings, then click the middle ‘Privacy’ tab and then click ‘Sharing Profile Edits’ to turn off notifications.

Decide who the profile is for

Who do you want reading your profile and what do you want them to know about you?

Don’t just list your job description – summarise the skills you used, the outcome of your efforts and any key achievements so people can see your value.

Mention the types of clients you worked with, the size of budgets you managed, the amount of people you oversaw and the level of return you provided so people can see the scope of your experience and how good you are at what you do.

Complete ALL of your profile

If you haven’t bothered to fill out every section and don’t even have a photo then you look lazy and unprofessional at best. You can always hide your profile in the settings until you’ve completed it.

Use the Summary section

This is the most important section as this is where you outline what it is you actually do for a living and why someone might want to work with you.

State your value and what you want to be known for here because you can’t rely on people having the time to scour through your profile.

Download 10 LinkedIn summary examples from my downloads page.

Don’t look like you’ve just been arrested

Make sure you don’t look like an idiot in your profile photo. Don’t post a group one where you can clearly see you’ve cropped other people out, don’t look drunk or like you’re in a karaoke bar, and don’t have one that looks like a police mug shot.

A friendly head shot is fine – one that looks like you in real life, one where you seem approachable, and certainly one that looks professional.

Add a good background image

You can now upload a 1400 x 425 background image which means you get the chance to look slick and market your business at the same time. If you’re not sure what image to use then Google ‘blue LinkedIn background’ and use one of those while you decide

Something professional is better than nothing at all.

Write a great Headline

This is the sentence that appears next to your photo which should say what you do in a nutshell as it’s the first thing people read. You only get a set amount of characters so make it snappy.

(There are a few ways to write Headlines which I’ve outlined at the bottom of this post)

Don’t waste your career history

Many people spent years and shed blood, sweat and tears at a company only to either just promote it in the info box, write out their job description or write nothing at all about what they did during their time there… nothing!

Write what you actually did, so instead of just saying ‘marketing and promotions’ list specifics such as “designing and writing branded materials including websites, flyers, posters, trade stand banners” etc.

You worked your arse off for these companies so make them work for you now.

Be useful

I once saw someone say on their profile: “I’m here to help and asking questions is for free. If you would like to pick my brains on any of my areas of expertise listed below, or ask me any other questions, then just connect through LinkedIn. I’m always happy to share my skills and knowledge with no obligation.”

This was a brilliant way to provide an easy reason to contact him, showed he was generous and it made him look really good.

Add projects

This is an important one if you want to offer event/project support or you want to work with project/event managers. If you worked on projects for clients in your past or present career then elaborate on them.

People want to see how good you are at what you do so add some ‘Project’ sections from the right sidebar and outline the brief/client/task, what your actions were (to demonstrate you know what you’re doing, your working processes and how you approach problems) then state what the outcome was and give figures and percentages if relevant or applicable.

Add media

If you have any videos, email testimonials, photos or presentations there’s an option to add them to the associated position. When you’re editing your profile, underneath the Summary section at the top and next to each job title there’s a link to add media. LinkedIn own Slideshare, so link to slides and YouTube videos if you have any.

Get Endorsed

Endorsements are the skills that LinkedIn suggests you have to your connections and might not be things you actually want to be endorsed for.

It’s best to have a select skill set rather than a load of random ones as you might end up getting endorsed for things you don’t want to do any more and it can dilute your image. So make sure the skills are key things you want to be known for rather than that you’re good with Excel for example.

Get Recommended

People who receive a lot of Recommendations (testimonials to you and me) are people who have given a lot so spend time writing them for others and even ask people to write them for you. People are impressed by testimonials and you can also add them to your website later.

Ask your contact if they can specifically mention a skill or outline how you work as it’s better for a testimonial to say that you are efficient, reliable and cost-effective than that you were friendly or nice to work with.

Drag stuff around and hide things

You can click each section (next to each job title when you’re editing – see second screenshot) and move it up and down as well as deciding who sees what. This is nice as you can bring the sections you feel are most relevant to the top of your profile.

Some people also like to keep their contacts hidden in case other people see who they’re connected to. You can hide your connections in the Settings section as shown in the first screenshot.

Make sure the most important and impressive stuff is at the top!

Check and rename your contact links

If someone clicks your Website or Twitter link does it go to an old website, the site of a company you no longer work for, a shonky Twitter account you haven’t used in months or is the link even broken?

You can also change the words ‘company website’ to the actual name of your company by clicking ‘edit’ next to the link, selecting ‘other’ from the dropdown (instead of the default words ‘Company Website’) then typing in the name of your website.

Have good connections

If you only have four connections then it looks like nobody likes you or you haven’t bothered to find anyone you know. Your contacts should also have profile photos as faceless ones in your Skills and Endorsement sections looks poor.

Personalise every connection request

It’s lazy and rude not to and it only takes a second.

I will rarely accept a request from a person I don’t know and who hasn’t even bothered to take the time to tell me why they want to be my professional online mate.

Hide your competition

Go to the settings and click to change the ‘people who viewed you also viewed’ bit so that other LinkedIn users with the same job description as you (your competition) don’t appear in the sidebar when someone is viewing your profile. You want them to contact you not click away to someone else.

Tag your connections

When you connect with someone always go straight to your contacts and edit their tag. I have mine tagged by industry and how I know them. Some of my tags are: Local, Digital Media, Social Media, Prospects, Trainees and Clients.

Often people will connect with you by saying you’re a friend so if you don’t change that tag straight away they’ll stay in that list. Plus you need lists to target people later as outlined in my Guide on How to Get Clients!

Turn off group notifications

When you join a group, go to the group settings and make sure you opt out of getting an email notification every time a member blows their nose. You can do this when you join the group or later from your main profile page.

Use a different email address for notifications

I personally have a separate email address for LinkedIn connect requests and group notifications. I don’t want those “hey look what so-and-so is up to” emails clogging up my business inbox so I have a Hotmail address just for business newsletters and other social media updates.

You don’t have to do this of course, but you can change this in the general settings or in the individual group settings as outlined above.

 LinkedIn profile examples

How to write each job role

I’ve found the best way to do this is to give a brief intro into each company or role so people know what the company actually does and it’s positioning and then say “my role included:” then list the things you did.

Example 1

With 28 international offices, Example Company is one of the world’s largest and most respected law firms and provides impartial advice to national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments. My role here involved:

– Stuff I did
– Stuff I did
– Etc

Example 2

Example Company is a leading international insurance organisation serving commercial, institutional and individual customers in more than 130 countries. My role was to provide accurate reporting and admin assistance to 40 underwriters and included:

– Stuff I did
– Stuff I did
– Etc

Examples of good Headings

Unless you create your own Headline, LinkedIn will just bring in the generic wording from you current job…

BORING!

I often change my own Headline as there are so many ways you could write it:

You could list your skills as keywords:

e.g. Marketing | Strategy | SEO | Branding
e.g. Newsletters | Autoresponders | Sales Pages | Blogging
e.g. Travel | Concierge | Events | Admin

You could write a strapline:

e.g. I give business owners more hours in the day
e.g. Creating order from chaos since 2003
e.g. Smoothing the way for Spanish companies wishing to enter the UK market

You could write a sentence:

e.g. Virtual Assistant providing admin, social media and marketing support to small businesses and consultants
e.g. Professional VA specialising in high-converting newsletters and sales pages
e.g. Virtual Assistant providing travel, admin, email and diary management to busy international coaches, authors and trainers

Examples of good Summaries

You can get 10 Example LinkedIn Summaries from my downloads page (this is a paid download I’m afraid cos hard work went into putting them together!)

 Action

  • Check out LinkedIn profiles of other Virtual Assistants to get ideas and see what works and what looks rubbish.
  • Constantly keep in mind “who do I want to read this and what do I want to them to know about me?” Then tell them just that. Your ideal client needs to be able to quickly and clearly see what you do and why they might want to hire you.
  • Potential clients need to see if you’re any good, so get as many testimonials (LinkedIn calls them Recommendations) as you can.

This is just basic simple stuff and LOADS more is covered by the comprehensive and detailed courses provided by the expert Marketer Luan Wise. Luan has even been hired by LinkedIn so she knows what she’s talking about! Find out more.

8 Comments

Rose M Smith

Thank you so much. Reading your tips make it simple and workable to start a new business.

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Joanne Manville

Brilliant, thought I knew almost all there was to know about LinkedIn but there’s two little nuggets in there I didn’t know about! Thanks Jo, helpful as always.

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Denise

I am so thankful that I came across your site and signed up for your emails. The information and assistance you’ve given me (and others, I’m sure!) is absolutely priceless. I just spent an hour rewriting my LinkedIn profile. I hated it before, and even though knew it would attract everything I wanted to get away from, I didn’t know HOW to fix it. Now, I love it!! I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak it, but it’s already a huge improvement. Thank you so much, Joanne 🙂

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Laura Bale

I’ve just set up as a Virtual Assistant and cannot thank you enough for this amazing website – it has been my bible! As a complete LinkedIn beginner, I have just used this article to set up my profile and I’m pleased with it (I think!). Now to purchase your Step by Step Guide on How to Get New Clients. Thank you for an amazing resource!

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