Your brand is your reputation, so you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by making yourself known and trusted on LinkedIn. And how exactly do you do that? You follow a few key strategies that will help your profile stand out from the pack.
A few things that will have both long-reaching and long term effects for you is to be calculated with your bio. Make sure you’re telling a story to everyone who sees your profile so they’ll want to keep reading. And don’t forget that LinkedIn actually offers some SEO benefits as well, so don’t forget that you can post videos, audio, slides and repurpose those blog posts on LinkedIn as well.
Rich: Kate Paine helps executives and entrepreneurs stand out online, so that they become a recognized authority in their marketplace or industry and a respected asset to their company and clients. Kate uses her journalism and marketing background to tease out her client’s compelling story to position them as an industry expert or influencer, both online and off.
Discovering an individual’s slice of life story makes her expertise uncommon in the world of online personal promotion and social selling. She’s an expert on using LinkedIn as a powerful personal branding tool, speaks at national marketing conferences, and teaches LinkedIn for corporate sales training.
She’s also a volunteer traveling faculty member, teaching how to leverage LinkedIn for the HonorFoundation.org in Virginia Beach. HF is a nonprofit which provides an intense career development program for Navy Seals and individuals in the Special Forces community transitional from their active duty military service into a civilian career, which is pretty awesome. Kate, welcome to the show.
Kate: Thanks so much, Rich, it’s nice to be here.
Rich: And if you are listening right now – which I guess you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be hearing my voice – I had a head full of cotton and Kate is battling a migraine, and yet we are showing up because that’s the kind of thing we do. We just work through our pain, right?
Kate: Yes we do, we work right through it.
Rich: So it’s funny because you’re kind of a storyteller – you help people tell their stories – and yet LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily seem like the most personable social media marketing channel. Why do you feel it’s a good place for us to tell our stories?
Kate: Well primarily for what you just said. It’s just a different approach, a lot of people don’t think about using LinkedIn to be able to tell their story. So if everybody is on Linked in kind of putting their information out there in the same formulaic way, that if you can tie your story – a nugget of your story – into your LinkedIn profile and image, then you’re a step ahead above the rest and you’re going to create that top of mind awareness.
Rich: Alright. And so what we want to do today is take a look at our own LinkedIn experience and see how we can tell our story with you help. And just kind of as a crutch while I’m talking to you Kate, I pulled up my own profile on LinkedIn. It isn’t shabby but I’m sure it can be improved.
Kate: It isn’t shabby at all, Rich.
Rich: I’m always looking for improvement. So if you’re playing along at home, feel free to go to LinkedIn and check out your own profile.
So I pulled up my profile and let’s just walk through it. The first thing I see is my header. I noticed as I was looking through some other people’s today that not everyone uses a header page. How can we start to tell our story by the image we put in the header bar, and is this available to everybody or is this only certain people get to put an image up there?
Kate: Now you’re talking about the background image, right?
Rich: Thank you. Let’s start by correcting everything I say wrong. So the background image, right, which is at this particular moment in time me speaking to an audience at Agents of Change.
Kate: Yes. So I’m actually brining up your LinkedIn profile, too. So yes, the header image is available to anybody in the free premium sales navigators. Anybody can take advantage of it and they totally should. So that’s really valuable real estate, it basically acts as a billboard for your business. Even if you don’t own your own business but you’re a professional, check with your company and see if you can use their branding on there, it’s really a smart move to make. Or make something about yourself if you write a blog.
So if nothing in that banner image is clickable, but put the right information up there – either an email or a phone number – something that makes it user friendly because everybody can see your background image. So if they’re a third level connection or lower, make it easy for them to find you because they won’t be able to see your contact information as you have it further down in the profile.
Rich: Alright so now of course I’ve decided I’m going to go to the expert and I’ve actually opened up a second tab and I’m looking at yours, and you have some words overlaid on your image. And like me, you are presenting in front of an audience. You’ve got your URL – which is not clickable – but if I want to learn more about you it’s easy to see that right there. And then you’ve got your logo.
So you’ve done what I’ve done, except you’ve made it 1,000 times more awesome by just including a few extra words on there. And I assume LinkedIn has no issues with what you put up there.
Kate: Not at all. In fact they’ll be the first ones to tell you to utilize that real estate the best that you can. Your background image is great Rich, but you could put up your Agents of Change or flyte branding up there, too.
Rich: Yeah, I’m definitely thinking that should be upgraded. Thank you. So the next is the headshot. Is there anything we can do with our headshot per se, or is that just like as long as it doesn’t look like you cropped off somebody else.
Kate: Exactly. This is not Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. This is a place for a professional, in a suit and tie or a blazer. But whatever your industry is, have a photograph taken that’s appropriate to your industry.
Rich, your photo is really great. It’s artistic, creative, it’s totally appropriate that people can see you the way they see you. So having that background that’s kind of textured in your photo is different so it makes you kind of “pop”.
And the other thing is don’t hesitate to have your photo taken with a white backdrop, just make sure there’s no shadow. Because again, it pops off the page more. People who have those more neutral “real estate” backdrop photos – not that that’s bad – but you want to try to make it pop off the page because in this new LinkedIn format your phots has kind of been reduced in this circle, whereas in the old one it used to be a big square and you could see a lot more. But people want to see your eyes, so eye contact is good. Also the rule of thirds in photography, make sure your eyes are in the upper third of the photo. That just looks better than falling off with your chin below the circle.
Rich: And of course I have the odd thing where I’m looking off to the side. This photo is out of date anyways, I’ve got to get rid of it.
Kate: But it’s fine though, Rich. It’s who you are and that says alone that you’re creative, an author, in marketing. Anybody in digital marketing are going to do things that are a little different, creative, and funky.
Rich: Right. There’s always best practices and then you have to know when to break the rules.
Rich: Alright, so the next thing below that is the headline. So tell me a little bit about the headline and how we can do a better job telling out story in the headline.
Kate: Ok so in the headline you have up to 120 characters, and that includes letters and spaces. So this is a great place to be able to tell a nugget of your story. Because wherever you go on LinkedIn where it’s the people you may know or you send a message, the headline goes with your name, it’s the first thing everybody sees and it’s the thing they see across all the aspects of where you show up on LinkedIn.
So in those 120 characters, try to tell a little bit of the story. So Rich you’ve done a good job. You’re a digital marketer, social media consultant. That says who you are and not just what you do, it’s not just your title. They default to your job title, whatever you put in as that first thing in your work experience section. So you can go in there and change all this, and you should.
You also put that you’re an author, and a founder, and you talk about Agents of Change. Now you’ve got the pikes in between here so on your first search term the first phrase you use is “digital marketing and social media consultant”, and then there’s this symbol called a ‘pike’. A pike is on both a PC and a Mac, it’s the symbol just about the return/enter key, so it’s a really nice way to clean up your headline.
So whatever term or search engine term or phrase that you put between the pikes makes it searchable to the robots in the backend of LinkedIn, they see that and that helps you probably get found more easily within LinkedIn, whether it’s LinkedIn search or Google. So think about those terms and then also put in something a little extra. You put in that you’re a “founder”. On mine I actually put “paddle board fanatic”. Some people might think that’s corny, but I can’t tell you how many times that’s started a conversation. You can do something that really makes sense to you to give it some personality and give the information that people need to know what you do.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense, so showing of a little of your personality for sure. I purposely didn’t change anything before we got on the phone today, because one of the things I’m thinking about is I want to be doing more speaking gigs, but maybe I also need to be working that into there as well.
I say in there “Founder of flyte new media and Agents of Change”, but then its flyte new media right below that anyway.
Kate: Right. Well the other thing is, from this if nobody knew anything about you, they don’t know what Agents of Change is. So you can still talk that upon other aspects of your profile but you want to be pretty specific.
Now for example from the search engine standpoint if you’re an accountant, don’t just put “accountant”, because you’re going to get 5 million results if someone types that in. Put in the specialty of you being an accountant. I think if you put up the author of The Lead Machine, you could probably build on that even a little more specific on the speaking side.
Rich: Ok, sounds good. So the next thing I see down – and if I skip over something important please let me know – but then all of a sudden we’re getting into the 2 lines that show, kind of the “summary”. So the summary section in the latest version of LinkedIn there’s 2 lines and then it gets cut off and you get a “see more”.
Rich: What are you telling your clients to do here? Because this is obviously a change.
Kate: Since June. It’s actually pretty recent.
Rich: So a lot of people who aren’t actively going to their LinkedIn profile, even if they’re going to LinkedIn, they’re probably not checking their profile. And by the way, if you are playing at home it might be helpful to have 3 tabs open. One for yourself, one for me – which is therichbrooks – and then one for Kate Paine.
So now we’re getting into the summary, so what are you telling your clients to think about in these first 2 lines, and the entire summary?
Kate: So continuing along with that theme of personal story and nugget slice of life. So you’ve got your headline done. So those first two lines that begin your summary are more critical than ever. You need to capture somebody’s attention, you need to captivate them. And in order for them to click that “see more”, those first two lines better be something really interesting. Again, if you start out with, “I’ve been working at X industry for 25 years, blah, blah, blah”, no one is going to look at that.
Rich, yours is good. Your first line is, “I run a web design internet company called flyte new media”, you talk about who you work with. So right off the bat because people are invested in outcome they want to know what you can do for them. You already are showing in those first couple lines who you work with, so that’s good.
If you look at mine, and I don’t want to make it sound like mine is the end all, be all.
Rich: No, but I’m sure you practice what you preach.
Kate: I do. And I pulled some of it out of the bio that I provided you. So my first line, “I help executives and entrepreneurs stand out online so they become a recognized authority in their marketplace.” You could also – if you have a really unique story – then use that.
I actually just worked with a CEO of a renewable energy company, Solar Trackers, and when I was interviewing him to help him identify his personal story I said, “What got you into renewable energy?” And his answer was, “I’ve been an energy guy my entire life.” He used that as his first line. And then he talks about how he actually took old bicycle parts and a lightbulb to create electricity in this little shed at his house when he was 14. So he kind of uses that as his story because it’s still personal, it’s different but it’s relevant. And then he weaves that into the stuff that people really want to know about what he does, that he’s an industry visionary, and then goes into other professional aspects that are appropriate for LinkedIn.
Rich: That’s very cool. What other things can we do within the summary? It looks like you’ve got some formatting – or maybe just some triangle here – it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of formatting or any links we can do in this area, correct?
Kate: No, LinkedIn doesn’t allow you do to any word formatting. You can’t bold, or italicize, or underline. The only think you can do is create capitols. Which I did that in that first beginning of my sentence. Again, not everyone does that so it catches your eye. The little arrow actually is wonky, for some reason when you’re in LinkedIn in your regular summary, when it defaults to your headline it doesn’t show a space from the period to the next word. So I went in there and I was able to just do that on my keyboard.
Kate: So that’s there. And then if you go further down in mine you’ll see people who bullet point things within their summary. So just like anything, nobody gets turned off more if they see a bunch of dense text, so break up your paragraphs.
Rich: So at the bottom of your summary – which is actually hidden now – is the media section.
Rich: I’m embarrassed to say when I did my media section my most recent post appears to be, “Facebook Marketing: 13 Secrets of Successful Facebook Marketing for Small Business, which is fine except it’s 4 years old. So what are the kind of media that we can put in there and what do you recommend to your clients in terms of trying to tell their story?
Kate: So for personal stuff, if they’ve got their own videos or a video for their business, put that in there. If they’ve been featured in the media in an article or TV, print, radio, or even a podcast, put the link in there and just describe what it is. I always say you have a place to create a “cash in” on that little media blurb. So I identify it – TV, article, etc. – and put a little caption as to what to expect.
So those are links. You can also upload video, you can link to a presentation if you wanted to put up a slide deck. That goes through Slideshare, which is an app owned by LinkedIn. So all kinds of things that you can upload. PDFs and other types of documents, whitepapers is a great place for people who do that kind of thing, to be able to put their whitepaper up there. If you have an e-book, you can link to your e-book.
Rich: How hard is it to get things like slide decks and video into this section?
Kate: Oh it’s really easy. So if you go in LinkedIn up on the main toolbar, what you’d want to do is if you want to upload, in the media section it’s going to give you a way to upload but then it’s going to switch into ‘Slideshare mode’. And you can just see where Slideshare is up in the toolbar all the way to the right, there are 9 little squares that says “work” underneath them. You click on that and then there’s 6 little icons that show up in the second row at the bottom and it says “Slideshare”.
So what’s cool about that is you can see what other people are posting and see the kinds of content that people are posting there. So if you created a slide deck for a corporate training or a startup pitch, go in and see how people have done it and maybe you can just modify yours to really make sense when you put it on your LinkedIn page.
Rich: So that makes it easy to add slide decks for sure – at least ones that you uploaded to Slideshare – but are videos as equally easy to put in there?
Kate: Yes. Basically with videos it’s just going to walk you through the prompts, it’s so easy.
Kate: And then of course putting up links is really easy, too. The other thing with Slideshare I’ll just mention, Slideshare is sort of a separate app owned by LinkedIn. Slideshare already had its own following before LinkedIn bought it last year, but you can get double the reach for posting one of your presentations. It’s almost like you get it with your network or your second level connections on LinkedIn, but then you get the wider group of being available to all people who look at Slideshare. So you get a double whammy there.
Rich: Nice. So another section that’s further down the page is ‘recommendations’. Do you have any tips for recommendations in terms of our storytelling?
Kate: Yes, absolutely. I’m just going to give a quick little side, a lot of people say to me or ask me, “What’s the difference between endorsements and recommendations?” Quick answer; endorsements really aren’t that valuable. I have it on good word that LinkedIn is probably going to get rid of them, so they’ve already de-emphasized them in the new LinkedIn anyway. They only show the top 3 skills and one thumbnail for people who have endorsed you, versus the way they had it in the old LinkedIn.
New LinkedIn – just like the old one – the recommendations are very strategic, use them strategically. Use your recommendations to help tell your story but through someone else’s voice. So if you go out to ask somebody for a recommendation, ask them for a specific thing to talk to, don’t just say, “Hey, would you recommend me on my LinkedIn?” Most likely you’re going to get the standard, “Rich is really great, he’s funny and he shows up for work on time and he’s reliable.”
Rich: One of those three things are true. I’ll let people from home try and decide what it is.
Kate: But if you were to ask somebody specifically for example – since I’ve not been at your Agents of Change conference, which is fabulous – you could get one of the speakers, let’s say Jay Baer, you could ask Jay if he’d mind writing a recommendation about how he felt on my mission behind the Agents of Change, and have him speak to one thing.
So ask people to speak to one specific thing so that they’re writing you a recommendation for that thing. Because then when they go on and see that there’s 10-15 recommendations and you’ve one that strategically, they’re going to be seeing people talking about you with the breadth of skills that you want them to know about you.
Not only does it help with SEO, but it’s going to have other people’s voices tell your story and reinforce the story you already started.
Rich: Ok, that makes a lot of sense. I definitely see how I should go about that, especially if I want to do more speaking gigs, then I should be talking to people that hired me to speak.
Rich: So do I have any control over – like right now I see just the 2 most recent ones – is it just the two most recent ones automatically or do I have control over which ones are seen?
Kate: That’s a great question, I don’t have a good answer for you because this is where LinkedIn is really wonky. I don’t know if it’s a bug, but I can’t tell you how many times I look at my profile and it’s all changed around and I’ve done nothing. So I can’t give you a solid answer there, they’re still dealing with a few leftover bugs from their rollout which was complete in June 2017. So that’s one of those little buggy things.
It will also say you have so many recommendations, and if you click to see the rest show up, then only 2 will. Then it will say ‘click to see 15 more’, and that doesn’t even add up.
Rich: Ok. So I guess the same question jumping back up the page to the media. Do I have any control over which media are shown before you have to click on ‘next’, or is that also just chronologically or by chance?
Kate: This is another of those little ninja tricks you have to figure out because LinkedIn doesn’t make things very intuitive sometimes. Whichever one you want to appear first is the one you post last.
So when you’re in the backend and you’re editing and you’re uploading all those things, if you have 6, only 2 will show per page. And then you click ‘next’ and it will show you the next two. Post that one last, so last goes first.
Rich: So it is kind of chronological and as I continue to ass more things in there, those are the two that are going to appear.
Kate: And you don’t have to have it be chronological. For example I have a video about me and what I do with my clients. I want that to be there, I don’t want that to be buried. So I just made sure that I posted that one last.
Rich: And so whenever you want to add something new you’ve got to delete it and repost it.
Kate: Yeah, you do. You don’t have to lose sleep over it but the kinds of stuff that you and I do, we want to walk the talk. If people want to learn more – and they do – they will likely click ‘next”, so I don’t lose sleep over it.
Rich: Alright. We have talked a lot about our profile, but there are other elements of LinkedIn such as the feed, Messenger, blog posts that you can do. Do you have any specific recommendations for these other areas of LinkedIn that we should be thinking about as we move forward to tell our story?
Kate: Yes, so a couple of little tips. Another really easy one is to make sure you do not ignore your ‘volunteer’ section. Make sure you populate that with work that you’ve done, even if it was 10 years ago. Even if all you do is walk in a benefit fundraiser campaign. Put that in there. Again, that’s telling your story through something else so people are seeing more about you as a human on top of you as a professional. And you have an opportunity to write a couple sentences in there to put a blurb about your volunteer work. So if you’re on an Advisory Board, for me I speak to the Honor Foundation so I put that in there as a volunteer, so make sure you have that in there.
And the other thing is LinkedIn pus a lot of SEO weight on the volunteer section and a lot of people don’t’ realize that. So use that.
Rich: Do you mean just make sure I’m using my keywords in there? Because obviously my volunteer experience might be something like raising funds to make sure kids have something to eat after school, but that has nothing to do with what I am otherwise. So how would that necessarily impact my SEO?
Kate: Well from the SEO standpoint first of all, the name of the organization. The other piece is just if you’re writing about something that you did for that organization it’s likely that that can get picked up, too. This is no guarantee, it’s just that it does help you. And whether there’s SEO or not it’s another way for people to learn about you as a person, because people want to do business with people they know, like and trust. People want to do business with people, not with logos.
The other thing that can really raise your profile and really offer value to your customers or to people that may be looking to hire you is to write articles, also known as blogs. LinkedIn calls them ‘articles’ and you can post those in their long form Publishing platform. So the way you get there is when you’re in the top of your newsfeed – which would be the ‘home’ button – it has moved in the last month and it is over to the left of the search box in the toolbars. So at the very top you’ll see where you can put in a post like you would on Facebook and you can add your comments. And then there’s a button that says, ‘write an article’. When you click that it opens up a completely new window of where you can upload an article.
So big tip, if you’re already producing a blog for your company, you can repurpose that blog verbatim on LinkedIn without getting a slap from Google for duplicate content. Do everything in Word first and then copy and paste it, so that’s a great way to build engagement.
Rich, do you find that more and more people – even with the blogs on their website – that the comments just aren’t happening and people turn them off because of spam?
Rich: Yeah. I’ve been saying for years that comments don’t pay your bills so not to worry too much about them. And if you want to get a lot of comments, you can always just write about politics, religion, or vaccines, and then you’ll get everyone to comment.
So I don’t really care too much about them personally. I’m guessing that where this is going is you’re finding that you’re getting more engagement on LinkedIn.
Kate: Absolutely. That’s the best thing is that there’s very little spam in LinkedIn from the Publishing standpoint, so it’s a great place to start a conversation. Now if you write one post and put it up there and expect hundreds of comments, it’s not going to happen. Just like anything, you’re showing your expertise, your thought leadership on a topic, and you’re building that relationship by putting out great content to people.
So as we often hear, you need to offer value and invite engagement. Put a call to action at the end of your article, ‘please share’, ‘give me a call’, ‘ask a question’. But you do get really good meaningful engagement – and longtime engagement – as people see your stuff even down the road. So that is a really great place to be able to get some good bandwidth and reach from an original blog post that you put on your website. And you can add images, and links, and videos and all that stuff, too.
Rich: Yeah. Actually there was a period where I was taking my podcast and putting the sound in, because that was the audio tool that LinkedIn used then. There’s definitely a lot of things that you can do on the platform. Again, along with being able to tell your story, separate yourself and connect with people you want to be connected with online.
Rich: Kate, this has been great. As soon as we get off the call I’m going to be doing my own profile. But I’m sure the people are interested in learning a little bit more about you, about how you can help them, so where can we find you online?
Kate: You can find me at my website which is standingoutonline.com, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love it when people connect with me on LinkedIn of course, which is under Kate Paine. I do offer LinkedIn profile audits which I can overview your LinkedIn profile and give you some feedback. I also do one-on-one stuff, and then I’m actually working on a group mentoring program that’s like a group mentoring module so I’ll hopefully start with that at the first part of next year. So keep following my LinkedIn stuff and you’ll know more about that.
Rich: Awesome. Kate, thank you so much for coming on the show and helping me with my own profile and sharing all your expertise.
Kate: Thank you, Rich, I really appreciate it and I hope you feel better.
Rich: Thanks, you too.
Kate loves to help professionals stand out online by creatively and strategically telling their story. You can find out more about how she achieves this at her website, and of course connect with her on LinkedIn.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!