If you follow me at all, you probably know that I’m a big fan of LinkedIn for the professional. I’ve written about it a time or two, offering some specific ideas on how to properly fill in your profile. Plus, there is a lot of good advice peppered throughout many publications and blog articles on tackling it. I’m not here to add to those details; I want to give you something to think about regarding the messaging on your profile.

First rule: Think like a client

People who are looking at your profile are usually doing so because they have some kind of business issue, and they want to know if you might be able to help them in some way.

Since they're looking to you for some possible help let's be sure your profile gives them the answers they need. Obviously this profile is about you, the individual, but to be more precise, it's actually about what you can do for the client/potential client – the person viewing the profile.

What I mean by this is when clients/prospects read your information it should be apparent to them what that they'll gain by working with you. Do you offer something by way of knowledge, areas of expertise, or skills they need?

Take a look at your Summary and the descriptions you've written for your Experience (current and former jobs).

  • Is it a list of tasks you've performed?
  • Does it rehash the years you've been in business?
  • Or perhaps there is nothing at all?

If any of these describe what you've got written on your profile, then it's time to re-write it. Put some personality into it and let people know what it would be like to work with you. Let them know what they'll get, what you'll bring to the table, and how you'll be able to help them in their business. Do this by explaining what you've done at your jobs that helped the company or its clients. Were you responsible for managing and implementing programs, driving growth, managing financials, coaching teams? Let us know what kind of an impact you had while you were there.

Your profile is there to speak on your behalf, and let people see how you could be a good fit for them. If you're not telling people about yourself as an individual or you're making the same promises every other broker makes – great service, free quotes, lots of experience – then you're not getting much value out of your profile beyond it being just a contact page for your connections.

Second rule: Think strategic

Looking at your Experience or your list of Skills, is it all focused on the tactical things you do in your job? Or are you also thinking from the client perspective and describing what you offer? Are you sharing what kinds of things you've accomplished that a reader could project forward to see how you might be able to help them?

You may know every insurance product under the sun, but I would expect that of a broker. As a profile viewer, my question instead is something along the lines of -

  • How are you at analysis of plans or work comp programs or executive risk?
  • How about development of HR or safety programs or business continuity plans?
  • What do you know about effective hiring, training, and compliance practices?

These are the things that are going to catch my attention if I'm a CEO or an HR/Risk Manager because these are things that are going to directly affect my business. I want to see up front that you think about these things first and foremost. That's what's going to entice me to call you.

What does it look like?

Here are a couple of great summaries that do exactly this. As I read both of these examples I have a really good idea of what I'm going to find when I meet with each of them. And knowing both of them, I can vouch that these are spot on - great examples of how you can use LinkedIn to represent yourself well and with personality.

Excerpt from an employee benefits producer LinkedIn profile:

"I can't stand inefficiencies. My natural drive in life is to find the most effective solution to any problem that comes my way. Whether it be how best to organize my closet so that I can put my laundry away the quickest, or how best to communicate with employees so they feel informed enough to make the right decision and also appreciate what is offered; I find the optimal solution. And, I enjoy doing so.

When a company dismisses the strength and potential that can be gained from utilizing its HR department in a strategic way, it causes major inefficiencies throughout the company. My passion and skills energize me to find the most effective way to take an under-utilized HR department and turn it into a strategic powerhouse for the long term growth of the company."

Excerpt from an employee benefits producer LinkedIn profile:

"As a mother of 2 young children, I use the word "no" on what feels like an hourly basis. Yet somehow I find that word does not exist in my professional life. My natural inclination is to find a way to help people accomplish their goals and objectives. There is always a way to get to the desired goal and there is no room for negative attitudes. I believe the biggest challenges result in our best accomplishments.

Whether is it communicating with employees to increase their understanding of the benefits package (resulting in greater employee satisfaction and retention) or strategizing with a CFO on financials, experience or compliance, I know there is a way. There is a formula, if you will, for every client, which will allow them to reach the company bottom line goals while taking care of the employees' wellbeing. The word "no" has little value in my professional life; I know if I simply dig deep enough, there is always a way to accomplish the goal."

Think different. Be different.


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Photo by Coletivo Mambembe.