Yes, you can have an “All-Star” rating from LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean your profile will do all you need it to do. That LinkedIn rating speaks to completeness, not quality, and quality matters the most because your LinkedIn profile plays many important roles in your career success. It delivers your first impression. It helps show you are ready for the next rung on the ladder. It connects you with important people who become a part of your brand community. So focusing a little attention on your profile can have a big impact on your career trajectory.
Here are nine characteristics of the most powerful LinkedIn profiles.
Magnetic. Your LinkedIn profile needs to attract the attention of people who matter. That means it needs to have all the right keywords so you’re found. And once the right people find you, they should want to stay connected with you. Make your LinkedIn a place people want to stay and hang around in, because you are just that cool.
Human. Credentials and experience are important. They’re the table stakes that get you into the game. Without them, you won’t be considered for a new role or a board position or a business partnership. But when it comes to deciding who we want to work with, people want to work with people—not credentials. A profile filled with amazing experience and accolades will work against you if it’s devoid of personality and human recommendations.
Authentic. Your profile can make you look like a senior leader of a large team even if you’re a junior middle manager. But it likely won’t fool too many people. People can tell when you’re blowing smoke. And what you put online is more likely to be scrutinized by a wide audience as LinkedIn has more than half a billion members. So don’t try to pretend you’re someone you aren’t.
Aspirational. While your profile needs to be based in who you really are, it needs to position you for where you want to be next. When crafting it, you need to be clear about what your objectives are. If you haven’t identified your career goals, how will others know where you want to go? How will you?
Relevant. It needs to speak to the people you are looking to influence. It must be clear to them immediately that you are the right person for them to get to know. That means you need to highlight the elements of your profile that tell your target audience, “I’m one of you and here’s why!”
Compelling. The ultimate goal for crafting a great profile is to compel the right people to take action. When reading your profile, people should say, “This is someone I need to know.” They should not only want to add you to their network but also follow your blog posts or partner with you on a project.
Current. If you haven’t updated your profile in a while, and it focuses on your work in healthcare even though you have moved to information technology, you’re telling people, “I just don’t care.” There are horrid cases of senior executives who haven’t updated their profiles since they created them back in 2003 when LinkedIn launched and they held a junior role in the company. Embarrassing.
Validated. You need others to speak on your behalf. Most of your profile is you speaking about you. It becomes much more credible when others deliver testimonials that prove you right. With LinkedIn, you can invite this validation through endorsements and recommendations. You can also add quotes about yourself from executives or the media in your summary. This is a great way to boost yourself and what you bring to the table.
Well-proofed. Nothing destroys a perfect profile like a typo or bad formatting. If you invest copious time making your content relevant and interesting, invest a little extra time to make sure the layout is beautiful, without any embarrassing grammar errors.
Now go and take a look at your LinkedIn profile with a fresh set of eyes and measure it against these nine important characteristics. Then grab some time in your calendar to polish your profile so that it reflects all nine.