Profile Tip No. 1: Don’t Use a Family Photo!

By Mark Cook

During the last two years, I have advised hundreds of bankers, wealth advisers, and C-level bank executives on how to leverage LinkedIn to gain more business.

LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Because LinkedIn is a platform that can help build your referral network and make you both more productive and more successful, doing so requires a solid foundation—your profile.

Think of what happens when you meet a prospective client at a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club meeting. Chances are you walk up to that prospective client, shake hands, introduce yourself, exchange a bit of small talk, and then pass along your business card. I’d ask you to look at your LinkedIn profile as a representation of what you want someone to know the first time you shake hands with them, and keep this frame of mind throughout the next few “tips.”

Tip 1: Photo

Take a moment to answer these three questions:

  1. At that event, would you wear a mask?
  2. Would you bring your whole family, including the family dog, with you to the event?
  3. Would you ever invite your family to come with you and then suddenly cut them out of your plans upon arriving?

I would hope that the answers to those questions are all a resounding “no.” I would ask that you treat your LinkedIn profile picture the same. But let’s make sure you’re sending the right message—no family photos, no “selfies,” and don’t go cropping your spouse out of a picture from the latest formal event you attended. I doubt they would feel good about being cut out!

Tip 2: The headline

Keeping in line with our theme, how would you introduce yourself? It’s doubtful you would say, “My name is Mark, and I’m a banker.” At the top of your LinkedIn profile, you have what is called a “Professional Tagline.” Here, you have 120 characters to showcase who you are and what you do. Use this as a way to differentiate yourself. For example, if you’re a commercial banker, why don’t you tell the world that you aim to help business owners achieve their goals? Isn’t that your mission in banking?

Tip 3: The summary

This rounds out the conversation. Your summary is an opportunity to explain a little bit about yourself, outside of the obvious (your name, where you work, etc.). Why did you get into banking? What makes you unique from other bankers? Give your best “elevator pitch” about yourself, and don’t be afraid to make it personal. The most common misconception about LinkedIn as a professional network is that you can’t express your personal interests. Tell people what you enjoy outside of your day job, because it makes you more identifiable to your customers.

After you begin chipping away, your next step should be to connect with your prospects and customers. You never know where your next referral lies!



Mark Cook is financial services account executive with LinkedIn. Email: [email protected].

Online training in LinkdedIn from ABA.