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LinkedIn: Cleaning up your first impression


Over the past six months, our team at 21 Handshake has conducted a number of experiments on LinkedIn. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, think of it as Facebook for work (in most cases). And if you are familiar, I promise LinkedIn is not just a platform for recruiter outreach or “a place where my employees look for new jobs.” If utilized correctly, it can be a platform where you can positively position your business and be a thought leader in your industry.

People are doing homework on you before you meet them, and it’s likely that the first place they are going is LinkedIn. You might as well give them the current syllabus by creating/ updating your LinkedIn profile.

The mindset of a LinkedIn user is more professional and work-based than other social platforms, and because of that, LinkedIn has rolled out a few updates and tweaks to tools in their platform. For this article, I want to outline a few things we’ve learned that can help your success with LinkedIn.

Areas to make sure are updated

Profile picture: Yes, people want to see you. Unless your sales strategy incorporates showing up to a meeting with a bag over your head, you need to show off that one-of-a-kind mug in advance to your meeting. Get a current picture of yourself and make it authentic. In other words, the photographers who contort your body 16 ways like you remember from elementary school pictures are not necessary. Rather, find someone in your office who understands the smartphone and how to take a decent shot of you being you.

Profile background: The standard LinkedIn constellation of stars banner is pretty snazzy but it tells me nothing about you. This banner can change from time to time depending on the type of influence you’re trying to make. For example, I had a picture of an amazing golf course in Michigan taken by a drone. My goal with this image was to communicate to the viewer a few pieces of information.

First, I play golf and that’s a good thing to share in my industry because it’s easy to be categorized as a techie who sits behind a computer everyday. Not understanding “real” face-to-face business.

Second, while reading my name and job title, a user will deduct I own a marketing company and my hope is they realize the background image is an aerial shot taken with one of the High Five drones (my drone operating company). You’ll also find out what my top five strengths are. This tells you a lot about how I operate, things I value, and gives you a good idea how to approach me.

In review, my goal with the image is to show you who I am and how I operate while dripping in a little service nudge toward what our company is capable of. I challenge you to play around with this picture and allow it to show (not tell) information you’d like people to know about you.

Profile biography

Don’t think of your bio as your resume bullet points. That’s what the “Experience” part of the profile is for. Don’t just put what you do but why you do it. Who are you and what do you mean to the people you service? What do people say about you? What fuels your drive? Here is a snippet from my personal LinkedIn bio that I think is effective in this regard:

“If there is one thing I want you to take away from this it’s that: building connections drives everything I do. As founder and owner of 21 Handshake, a digital marketing agency, I believe we are building a successful business by doing what comes naturally to me. I describe myself as a Millennial who comes from a Baby Boomer-driven business, and I know that these perceptions and abilities were strengthened right after college when I joined a relationship-driven company. I always believed even then that there was a better way to communicate a brand’s message. And, as instructive and successful as my time was working at such a large company, I always knew I’d eventually own my own business.”

If you keep these three things in your LinkedIn profile updated, I guarantee it will help foster better professional relationships and improve your digital first impression.