10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Awesome

Over the last 10 years, I've been recruited by companies like Google, Apple, HP, Paypal, Ebay, Verizon, VMware, Meraki and countless other companies through LinkedIn. 

It's how I got my current job as the VP of Partnerships at Toptal.  

There's no doubt that LinkedIn has dramatically changed the game for job seekers. 
Need more proof?

1. It's the #1 social platform for work: There are over 433 million registered members on LinkedIn. 

2. It's one of the best tools that recruiters use to find talent - In 2016 Q1, LinkedIn's Talent Solutions revenue was $558M. 

3. It's one of the best ways to vet candidates and for many people, it's replaced the traditional resume - 94% of recruiters vet candidates through LinkedIn. (Source: Jobvite)

It's time to recognize that one of the best ways to land your dream job is by making sure you're LinkedIn brand is top notch.

Over the last 11 years, I've taken detailed notes on what makes a LinkedIn profile amazing.  It's time that I shared these tips with you.

Drum roll please...

1. Get a professional photo - And by professional, I don't mean cropping a decent photo of yourself while you're at your friend's wedding. Here's what I mean by "professional":

  • Equipment: Use a high end camera like a Canon SLR
  • Timing: If you're taking the photo outdoors, try to aim for 1 hour after sunrise or 1 hour before sunset. That's usually when you'll get the best lighting that will be a lot softer typically.
  • Get help: Get a professional photographer. If you don't have the budget, ask your friends or ask for help on your social networks. You'd be surprised, a lot of times, aspiring photographers are willing to take photos for free to build up their portfolio.
  • Dress up: It could be a nice suit. It could be your favorite blouse. It could be a niffy casual sweater. Look your best based on what suits your style. First impressions matter.
  • Smile. Enough said.

Here are 3 examples of average, better and best. The first was taken with an iPhone with minimal effort and lighting work. The second was taken with a SLR camera at Noon (the sun was beaming so the light was harsh). The third was taken by a professional photographer with proper lighting and a backdrop. See the difference?

Average:

Better:

 

Best:

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 7.40.59 PM.png

2. Tell a story - The "summary" portion of your profile is a place where you can shine. Don't just write a bland paragraph that seems like a generic job description. Take the time to tell your story. How did you arrive to where you are today? What have you accomplished? What are your deepest aspirations? What do you want to contribute to the world? Don't play it safe. Tell a story that's mind-blowing.

 

Let me give you an example.  Most people write a “summary” that goes like this: 

I’ve been a Director of Sales where I managed a group of sales people across multiple states.  I have experience in building customer relationships as well as managing people on a team and am considered a leader in the organization.

Not a bad summary, but not great either.  It ends up feeling “mediocre.”  You want to leave a stronger impression than that.

Here’s an example of someone who’s given a life statement and has built a brand: 

Sales, Marketing and Partnerships leader who understands how to build and execute a high growth sales playbook for startups. Over the last 11 years, I've worked my way up from an entry level sales position to now being a VP at one of the fastest growing startups in Silicon Valley.

My work has been featured on Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, Inc.com, The Huffington Post, MSN Money, Mic.com, Thought Catalog, CRN, Optimizely Blog, PopSugar and Product Hunt.

Nothing excites me more than building sales and partnerships organizations from scratch. I've traveled to over 56 cities in the US, Europe and Canada to accomplish this.

I currently lead partnerships at Toptal.

I believe every high performing sales organization needs to embody three key elements: Innovation, execution and extraordinary people. 

I have 10 years of IT leadership, sales, channels, management, marketing, training and operations experience. Hand picked by Cisco to enroll in a high potential sales and technical 1 year intensive training program in 2006, I've gone on to consistently overachieve on strategic objectives including:

★ 2013 - Recipient of the Box Sales Achiever and Box Sales Grinder Award (Only 1 given in the entire sales organization)

★ 2012 - Featured in CRN as "100 People You Should Know in 2012"

★ 2011 - Awarded the US VMware SMB Champ of the Year, Top PBM for the West Enterprise and chosen for the Americas Leadership Program. SMB Territory - Achieved 102%

★ 2010 - #1 Operation in the nation for Cisco (a $43M+ operation) - Achieved 119%

★ 2009 - #1 Territory in Unified Communications deals tied to 0% financing 

★ 2008 - #1 Channel partner recruiter in the nation - Achieved 218%

★ Ranked as the #1 presenter out of a graduating class of over 80 trainees within Cisco

★ Created 14 iPhone Apps that amassed over 400,000 downloads to date. Top apps have hit #3 in Business, #30 in Business, #100 in Lifestyle and #15 in iPad Entertainment.

★ Published author and his business book "The Resume is Dead" has over 40,000 kindle downloads and hit #1 in the resume category on Amazon.

3. Add value to the community - A great LinkedIn profile is only great if people actually see it. That's why it's critical for you to make sure you have visibility. And you do that by building a brand. One great way to build your brand is by contributing value to your LinkedIn network. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Write a blog post using LInkedIn's publishing tool - By writing on topics where you're a subject matter expert (for example: Sales, Marketing, Technology, Management, etc), you'll begin to build your online brand. Make sure you focus on writing high quality articles that really help people. You could write a long form story, a listicle or perhaps a few short tips on your subject. For example, I wrote a book about job hunting called "The Resume is Dead," so I started blogging on LinkedIn with career tips and wrote a post that included 500 of the top interview questions and answers. It got over 300,000 views. Think it helped to build my brand? You betcha. Anyway, in addition to writing high quality content that adds value, if you want to make your writing interactive and fun, use images in your writing too.

Below is a screenshot of where you can write a post on LinkedIn.

  • Here's another way to add value - Share blog posts or news articles on the topic that you want to be an expert in. No one said you always had to create the content from scratch.
  • Poll the audience in your LinkedIn posts to get more interactive with your network - For example, if you want to build a brand as a career expert, you could write a poll on LinkedIn that asks, "What are your biggest challenges in finding your dream job?"

4. Highlight your raving fans - Ask your ex and current coworkers to help you by writing a recommendation of your work on LinkedIn. To help this process along, write a recommendation for them to start with (make sure that you actually believe they're doing great work first, of course!). It's a numbers game, if you ask 50 people, expect that only 5-10 will actually take the time to write you a recommendation. This can be incredibly powerful because often times in interviews people will ask you for recommendations. In this case, you can simply point them to LinkedIn and you've got a recommendation right there in front of them. #MakingItHappen

5. Build your network - Do go to more networking events. Do make an effort to meet people over coffee and lunch (my two cents: never eat alone. it's more fun that way anyway). Do get to know your coworkers. Do host more events. As you naturally network more in real life, always remember to add these people on LinkedIn. Over time you'll see your network expand. That's how I've built nearly 6,000 connections and over 8,000 followers on LinkedIn over the years.  Don't randomly add people on LinkedIn (this can get you banned if too many people complain).

You know your networking has hit "next level" when you start to do handshakes like this:

 6. Showcase your work - Don't just list out your job responsibilities in a vanilla way. Make sure that you showcase your achievements in your role. Highlight what you've worked on and what the outcome of those actions were. 

For example, here's a "vanilla" way of stating your job responsibilities and results:

  • Managed clients and was responsible for sales efforts

Here's an awesome way of describing it:

  • Managed 5 Fortune 100 clients and grew revenue 105% year over year and was the #1 salesperson on the team

Who would you hire? The first or the second person? My bet is on the second person. Ask yourself - does the job description showcase you as the rock star that you are? And if not, how can you change it so that it clearly describes your achievements? If you don't have any achievements, that's a different story. Start changing that by doing great work. 

7. Use tools that help you expand your LinkedIn network - One of my favorite tools is a gmail plugin called Rapportive. Once you install it, you can see LinkedIn profiles pop up in gmail instantly once you type in their email. It's really powerful because it reminds you to add them on LinkedIn right away. This way you don't have to switch to LinkedIn, type in their full name to search for them and then add them as a contact. It saves a ton of time! Check it out here: https://rapportive.com/ (Here's an example below of how it works)

8. Get feedback - While your profile might look great to you, get a reality check. Ask your colleagues and friends what they think could be improved on your LinkedIn profile. They could offer some really great insight. 

9. Fill out your profile completely - Whether it's the Honors and Awards, Education, Skills or Languages section, make sure you fill it out as thoroughly as you can. You never know, one of those sections could be absolutely critical in helping you land your dream job, so don't neglect it.

10. Get started - The hardest part to all of this is just getting started. Your dream job is out there waiting for you. What are you waiting for? Make it happen. Now.