Your LinkedIn Summary is the most important white space on your entire LinkedIn Profile. What you choose to write here can make the difference between professional success or stagnation. I found 3 great examples which demonstrate the art of writing a powerful Summary.
Before I explain why I think the following 3 Summaries are stunningly good, I’ll let you read them first.
The right words can be incredibly effective. Kay, Paul and Mark waste no ink in getting their message across. They all do it in less than 250 words. All 3 end with a CTA (call to action). Endearing, engaging, smart, driven; their personalities leap off the page. I’m particularly impressed with Mark’s list of character statements. Very difficult to pull off, without seeming arrogant or self-absorbed. Yet he manages it. Do these Summaries inspire you? How does your Summary compare?
One Chance – First Impression
The Summary remains one of the most important sections on your LinkedIn Profile. Why? Because it’s the only area on the Profile where you get to define yourself from scratch, with a blank sheet, unencumbered by dates, labels or other text boxes. Because it’s the first thing people read whether they’ve decided to click on your Photo/Headline or if they’ve actively searched on your name. Because it’s personal – it’s where people look to find out what makes you tick. Are you in command of your narrative? Does your Summary do you justice? Or have you just copied & pasted your 5 year old resume as a temporary measure? How long is temporary?
Tell Me Your Story
A Summary is precisely that – a short version of why you do what you do, in your own words. If you can come across as authentic; convince everyone that what you do is also who you are, you’re golden. It’s not enough these days to let your experience speak for itself. You need to be your own Brand Ambassador and you need to ensure that your professional online prospectus is unique, engaging and well written. Write it in the 1st person. Writing a Summary about yourself in the 3rd person is a theatrical gimmick which never worked. It doesn’t make you more polished, it makes you seem aloof, out of touch and stuffy. Your Summary is your chance to not only say what you’re good at, it’s also your opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to differentiate yourself, in a remarkable and memorable way.
Buzz Words Are So 2013
The following words, in this order, were identified as the top 10 most overused Buzz Words on LinkedIn in 2013: ‘responsible’ ‘strategic’ ‘creative’ ‘effective’ ‘patient’ ‘expert’ ‘organizational’ ‘driven’ ‘innovative’ ‘analytical’. What they all have in common, apart from being ‘tired’, is that they are all what we’d generally expect an employee to be, from time to time. Banish the beige work speak. Lose the lemming language. There are over 1 Million words in the English Language. Plenty of choice.
Less Is More
We’re all busy. We click, speed read and move on. A summary that is too wordy and uses all 2000 characters just because you can is not going to win you admirers or customers. I want you to show me, the reader, some consideration. Be considerate with time and I’ll reward you with mine. If you knew I had 10 seconds to read your Summary, what would you write? If what you write is interesting, original or makes me ponder – you may have just bought yourself another 10 seconds.
Don’t Forget Your Headline!
Here’s the deal: you are boring…..by default. Yep, LinkedIn forces you to think conventionally by automatically inserting your (boringly functional and unremarkable) job Title in your prominent and most widely seen Headline space. This is a problem if you think about yourself in branding terms. If you are the brand, your Headline is your brand’s slogan. Now ask yourself are you proud of your slogan? Is it what you’re all about? Does it actually achieve anything? If the answer to those questions is no – there is something you can and should do about it. Come up with something unique, something so stunningly original that makes people think, smile or better still, act. Here are 3 of the best ‘stunningly original’ LinkedIn Headlines I’ve seen in a long while.
Have you heard? LinkedIn will be extending their Publisher platform to all LinkedIn users. You’ll soon be able to blog directly on LinkedIn within your Profile. Any long-form posts you write will be featured very prominently on your Profile, above your Summary. Becoming a Publisher on LinkedIn is a great opportunity to showcase your intellect, wit and personality, but before you start to write, you should find out what a successful post on LinkedIn looks like. Look no further. Paul Shapiro, Organic Search Director for Catalyst, a WPP Agency in Boston, recently analyzed 3,000 of the most successful LinkedIn blog posts to find out what they had in common. Some of these findings may surprise you. For a helpful summary of those findings read: Cracking The LinkedIn Publishing Code.
More Than Words
Finally, don’t neglect the visual cues which will clearly signal that you are a savvy LinkedIn user and self-branding wiz. How we utilize images, graphics and other non-text information on our professional digital portfolio is becoming a major factor in how we are being assessed and measured. We’ve all heard of the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” – well that maxim does not apply to your LinkedIn Profile; people will form an opinion in an instant and they’ll do it quickly by making many snap judgements. Look at these 5 Clever Ways To Market Yourself Visually On LinkedIn - how many are you using?
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Whether it’s getting more traffic on your Profile, engaging with a stunningly good Summary or refreshing your LinkedIn presence and brand – share your goals with me and I’ll help you to achieve all of them via LinkedIn.
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By Andy Foote