By Debra JasperWhat does your LinkedIn profile say about you? Does it say you’re up to speed—or out of touch? Digitally savvy or old-school?
If you’re a financial professional, it’s likely you got on LinkedIn a long time ago, posted your resume and a standard corporate photo, and never went back.
But you should. In the banking space—where reputation and client connections mean everything—a personable, friendly and engaging LinkedIn profile is a key component of doing business today.
The data is compelling. Leaders with fully optimized LinkedIn profiles get 40 times more opportunities. Seventy-four percent of financial professionals say LinkedIn helped them build their business or develop expertise. And 43 percent of candidates say they look up your profile 15 minutes before a job interview.
So how do you take your online presence from average to all-star?
I’ve spent years teaching LinkedIn to thousands of financial executives, marketers and sales managers around the world. So we’ve seen a lot of common and costly mistakes. Here are our top five to avoid:
- Don’t use dull language. This is not the place to post a traditional resume. No one will read it.
- Don’t write about yourself in the third person. You wouldn’t introduce yourself at a networking event by saying, “Tom is a dynamic leader.” Don’t do it on LinkedIn, either.
- Don’t leave out critical keywords. That makes you harder for clients to find online.
- Don’t skip key details. While you don’t need to list every internship, posting job titles alone aren’t enough.
- Don’t fail to build an engaged network. If you have fewer than 500 connections, you’re missing out on the chance to build a strong database of potential clients.
Okay, so that’s what you shouldn’t do. But what works? A good profile gives your clients a sense of not just what you do, but what you love about what you do. An even better one shows off your personality and uses a more casual, friendly tone or even a little (appropriate) humor.
Consider how these leaders describe themselves. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a “voracious reader” and an “avid traveler.” Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington is a “sleep evangelist.” Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is a “tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker who believes in turning ideas into reality.” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols is “equal parts educator, speaker, supporter and forecaster.” And Nationwide President and COO Kirt Walker is “skating to where the puck will be—helping people plan ahead.”
So instead of posting an old-school, “blah, blah, blah” resume, try these:
- Think of your LinkedIn summary—the first paragraph and most valuable real estate in your profile—as a first-person, mini-magazine bio (not a boring resume).
- Use the right search terms so your profile ranks high when people search for you online.
- Make your experience sections short, organized and skimmable. Three bullet points for each position is plenty (don’t skip the details, but don’t overshare either).
- Post a personable photo—and consider skipping the suit and going for a sports coat or less formal jacket instead. (Think casual, not careless.)
- Proofread your profile carefully. Better yet, get a professional proofreader to do it for you. There are a lot of “busness bankers” out there. Don’t be one of them.
Yes, all of this takes time. Our LinkedIn team, for example, spends 30 to 40 hours on every executive LinkedIn Makeover (including 1:1 coaching time). That may sound like a lot, but when clients search for you online, your LinkedIn profile is often the first thing they find. It’s truly a microsite of you.
So whether you get the work done in-house or seek outside help, investing in your LinkedIn profile is well worth the effort. As a leader, marketer or sales professional, the bar for your online presence is higher now.
You need a profile that not only leaves the right impression but engages people in a professional, sociable and friendly way. Anything less just won’t cut it.
Debra Jasper is founder and CEO of Mindset Digital.
Marketing in a Digital World
ABA and Mindset Digital are partnering to provide a brand-new suite of digital marketing and social media online training courses. With topics like building a campaign, finding an audience, search engine optimization and leveraging platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the six-course curriculum will help marketers and executives break through the noise. Learn more.