With nearly 600 million global users, LinkedIn is an immensely powerful platform for professionals to network and create opportunity. One of the best ways users can tap into this opportunity is to optimize their profile by writing an effective LinkedIn summary. In an effort to help, here are 5 tips for writing the perfect LinkedIn summary.
1. Emphasize the first two sentences:
LinkedIn summaries allow users 2000 characters to impress visitors to their profile; this summary is an extension of a user's 120 character headline, which is the first thing visitors will see. Needless to say, users will benefit by optimizing this prominent area of their profile.
When visitors show up on a user's profile, LinkedIn shows only the first 300 or so characters of their summary (even less on mobile) with a "show more" button, which means emphasizing the first two sentences is key. The exact way users will accomplish this depends on their overall objectives and preferences.
While the exact objective of sales professionals, talent recruiters, freelancers, and job seekers will differ, all will benefit by optimizing the first two lines of their LinkedIn summary to clearly reflect it. A recent HubSpot article explains more:
Think of your LinkedIn summary as the objective section of your resume: In just a few sentences, it should give the reader a clear idea of who you are, what sets you apart, and what you're looking for from the viewer.
A recent article on Forbes elaborates:
Focus on the first two sentences. The latest major update to LinkedIn reduced what people see when they look at your profile to the first two sentences of your summary. That means those two lines are the most important. They will either be good enough to entice the reader to click 'see more,' or they will bore everyone into skipping to the next profile.
2. Create a keyword rich summary:
LinkedIn's search engine is an important tool recruiters, salespeople, and job seekers can use to find relevant connections to network with. Not unlike other social media platforms and search engines, LinkedIn's search engine uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms to find relevant results for searchers.
Users can take advantage of this by including relevant keywords throughout their LinkedIn summary, as long as they flow smoothly and naturally for readers. By doing some preliminary research, users can find what keywords their target audience is looking for.
One of the best ways to conduct keyword research is to click on the "Search appearances" section of the "Your Dashboard" section on a user's profile. Here, users will be able to drill down on:
- number of times their profile appeared in search results
- where searchers work
- what searchers do
- keywords searchers used
Other ways to find relevant keywords is to research job listings, similar professional profiles, other search engines, and updated industry terms. Ultimately, users should find out what terms their target audience is looking for and include these in their summary in the form of naturally fitting keywords – increasing their visibility in searches. They can keep track of the effectiveness of chosen keywords by regularly checking the "Search appearances" section in their "Your Dashboard" section.
3. Focus on the main objective:
After visitors are impressed with a user's profile pics, headline, and the first 300 characters of their summary, they'll click the "show more" button to read the expanded summary – if a user even has a summary or an expanded summary. This is when the content of the summary becomes vital for making conversions.
The expanded summary is an elaboration of the main objective defined within the first few sentences. This is where users can fill in the blanks, answer potential questions, detail their skills and experience, and explain who they are.
A recent article on The Balance Careers gives 4 tips for creating the perfect summary:
...Share Metrics and Successes...
...Talk About Your Talents...
...Tell a Story...
While thought leadership has many ideas about what to include in an effective LinkedIn summary, ultimately, it comes down to the preferences and objectives of each user. The main tip here is to stay focused on the objective and keep the target audience in mind.
4. Optimize the summary layout:
Besides the actual subject matter being conveyed, users can also optimize the layout of their LinkedIn summary. By making their summary visually appealing and easier to read, users will have a better chance of getting their message fully across to visitors.
An article by Kate Reilly on LinkedIn explains why summaries should "...Show lots of white space":
People have short attention spans and many will skim your text. Steer clear of long dense paragraphs. Use bullet points and sub-heads to make it easier on the eyes.
Don't use a five-syllable word when you can use a one-syllable word that is just as good. Keep your words, sentences, and paragraphs tight.
5. Be personal without getting off track:
Whether a visitor is a recruiter, job seeker, or salesperson, they'll be interested in knowing who a user is on a personal level to some degree. Mostly, this is important for compatibility reasons; for example, job seekers want to know what the company culture is like of interested recruiters, recruiters want to know if candidates will fit in with their company's culture, and salespeople want to know if prospective customers will be receptive to their pitch.
The type of industries, personalities, and work cultures involved will determine the proper amount of personal information to relay, yet the main takeaway here is to be personal without getting off track from the main objective. For example, telling a relevant short story and using humor can be effective ways for users to communicate who they are on a personal level, as long as the subject matter relates to the main objective.
LinkedIn offers professionals across the world an amazing opportunity to network and make meaningful business connections to further their careers, yet much of this opportunity depends on the effectiveness of their profiles and LinkedIn summaries.
By optimizing the first sections visitors see when coming to their profiles, users will make better first impressions and, subsequently, more conversions.
While profile pics and headlines are vital, the summary section gives users the most opportunity to gain traction, as it gives them 2000 characters to include keywords, articulate their objectives, explain their skills, relay their experience, and connect with visitors on a personal level.
With a little strategic optimization, users can craft a perfect LinkedIn summary and make this popular, professional social networking platform work for their benefit.