Use LinkedIn like a pro: profile optimization guide for 2021

A fully optimized LinkedIn profile attracts the right people and increases trust. It’s also the first thing a potential connection sees when you reach out to them and it should make others want to get to know you. Making a strong first impression with your LinkedIn profile is vital to any successful LinkedIn strategy for lead generation and helps drive better connections. Let’s talk about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Update your photos

Start with the basics. Update your profile photo with a recent high-resolution profile picture. You want to make sure that a connection will be able to recognize you if they run into you in person or meet with you on a Zoom call. So post a photo that looks like you.

Don’t just stop with your profile picture. Profiles with background photos help you stand out from the crowd and get up to 11X more views than if you leave it in the default basic blue. Use your background photo to express yourself by sharing a favorite picture from where you live and work or depicting something you are passionate about. It’s the perfect opportunity to personalize your profile, share a bit of your personality, and make it easier for connections to remember you.

Pro tips:

  • Color photos drive more connections than B&W ones.
  • Add a quote to your background image that either closely matches your brand or represents who you are and what you believe in.

Customize your profile URL

Finding you on LinkedIn should be easy. But if you’re still using an auto-generated URL for your LinkedIn profile, it can be harder for the right connections to find you. LinkedIn gives you the ability to personalize your URL so that connections know exactly where to go. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage
  2. Click View profile
  3. Click Edit public profile & URL on the top of the right column of your profile page
  4. Under Edit your custom URL in the right rail, click the Edit icon next to your public profile URL
    – You will see an address that looks like
  5. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box
  6. Click Save

Pro tips:

  • Your personalized URL can have 5-30 characters (letters or numbers). You cannot use spaces, symbols, or special characters.
  • Custom profile URLs are available on a first-come-first-served basis. You can only have one custom public profile URL at a time.

Create the right headline

The headline is the most important text on your profile. After your photo, the headline is one of the first things everyone sees, and it’s the only thing besides your name that appears in a connection request. What you write here has a huge impact on increasing your accepted connection requests and is critical for making your efforts on LinkedIn pay off. This is another opportunity to make yourself stand out from the crowd and communicate who you are. Instead of just your current job title, use this space to share a bit about your WHY and what you’re passionate about. Think about who your target audience is and why they would want to connect with you. Then use that to craft a message that grabs their attention and tells them who you are, what you do, and how you can help.

Pro tip:

  • Bonus points for transparency and honesty! You have to come across as genuine if you want to make connections.

Update your About section

You’ve caught someone’s attention with great photos and a compelling headline. Now it’s time to take the lead you’ve created and complete the picture with your About section. This is your first opportunity to share your story and why you’re a great person to connect with, so utilize this space to do just that. The majority of About sections read like traditional bios, but just like the About Us section of your website, the About section of your LinkedIn profile should consider who your target audience is and what they want to know about you. The majority of visitors are reading this section to learn more about you, your business, and what you have to offer them. You should be speaking to them about the value you can provide and why you’re qualified to provide it. Emphasize WHAT problems you solve and HOW you solve them. Share your unique selling point.

Pro tip:

  • Remember that you are creating connections with PEOPLE, not businesses. Sure, they work for a business you are interested in connecting with but the recipient of your connection request is a person. Make sure your About section speaks to that.

Highlight your experience

You’ve done it! You’ve captured their interest and held it this far. The next thing a visitor to your profile will look at is your experience. It’s tempting to treat this section like a resume that relays your current and past positions and what you’ve done. But a better approach for highlighting your experience is to frame it less as what your day-to-day duties were and more about the problems you solved while working there and what makes it relevant experience to what you are doing today. You want to utilize this section to further support and round out your story and really drive the idea that you have the insight and experience to solve the problems your target audience faces.

Don’t just walk away

You’ve updated your photos and optimized your profile content. But that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and focus on other things. Your profile should be a living representation of the professional you are today and designed for the audience you are trying to attract. That means you need to perform regular maintenance on your profile to keep it up to date and relevant. Regularly revisiting your profile to make updates and changes also provides you with the ability to A/B test different approaches to how you share your WHO, WHY, WHAT, and HOW.

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