How hard should your LinkedIn profile work for you?
Your LinkedIn profile can be a career maker and reputation booster in the right hands. If it’s used well, your LinkedIn profile can provide you with a steady stream of ongoing opportunities, regardless of your role in your organization.
I’ll show you how to do this.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share posts focused on helping you build your online brand. Parts 1 and 3 will benefit B2B sales professionals, hiring managers, and companies looking to differentiate and sell their services. Part 2 of this series will focus on Glassdoor and the impact that company and job reviews have on recruiting. All three will speak to building your company’s online hiring brand as it relates to attracting the best and brightest candidates to your team. Today we’re going to focus our attention on Linkedin, the king of B2B social media.
Why your LinkedIn profile matters
When LinkedIn launched in 2003, it had just 10 members.
As of February 2022, LinkedIn has 830+ million registered members from over 200 countries and territories. LinkedIn used to be optional, a nice-to-have-but-not really essential.
LinkedIn today is an essential tool for employers and employees. Your LinkedIn profile is about one thing. The value you provide. As a professional, you convey the value you provide in several ways.
- Culture fit: Culture is living values. This is really about whether you’re a fit for organizations in the market for someone with your skills. This includes factors like likeability, demeanor, attitude, agreeableness, etc.
- Competence: Are you kinda, sorta good at your job, or are you part of the top 10% in your field? Your presentation, via your profile, tells recruiters and employers about the things they can’t see (e.g., depth of knowledge, resourcefulness, integrity, authority, credibility, etc.).
- Value: It’s common for employees to post a chronological description of the roles they’ve held. Employers want to see the value you’ve added to the organizations you’ve worked with while you were there.
- Authority: Are you viewed as a thought leader, expert, or authority in your field? Your LinkedIn profile should provide clear indicators that you’re contributing value in the form of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness via the content you share on your profile.
Why does any of this matter?
An effective Company page on LinkedIn falls short if its employee profiles fail to convey value. After all, a potential hire will ultimately be interviewed by a hiring manager, and your customer will buy from one of your sales reps. Done right, a Company page and its employee profile images and messaging will reinforce each other.
What goes into a polished profile or company page? An effective LinkedIn profile and company page should achieve four goals:
- Be Likeable
- Differentiate Yourself
- Share social proof
- Position yourself as a thought leader
1. Be likeable
Researchers Miriam Younan and Kristy Martire made an interesting discovery.
Dislikeability reduces your persuasiveness and the effectiveness of any evidence you share. This information may not be all that surprising, but it’s interesting to see that the data supports what most of us know intuitively.
“Lower quality evidence was significantly less persuasive than higher quality evidence. Less likeable experts were also significantly less persuasive than either neutral or more likeable experts. This “penalty” for less likeable experts was observed irrespective of evidence quality.”
Why does this matter?
The aggregate data on your LinkedIn profile – your headshot, tone, approach, and the values you communicate – all of this impact your likeability.
What does this mean?
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile and the accomplishments you’ve listed on your profile, dislikeability reduces your persuasiveness. If you’re perceived as unlikeable, your credibility and your persuasiveness will absolutely take a hit.
What does this look like?
Take a look at Barbara Corcoran’s LinkedIn Profile.
What makes her so likeable?
Well, take a look at the content she’s written in the about section on her profile.
See what I mean?
She’s vulnerable, open, and honest about her experiences. In this short description, she’s shared her highs and lows. And then there’s this letter outlining how she turned a No into a Yes when auditioning to be a Shark on SharkTank.
See what I mean?
2. Differentiate yourself
How long do users stay on web pages?
Jakob Nielsen, Usability researcher with the Nielsen Norman Group, shares the answer.
“Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer. To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.”
What is a LinkedIn profile?
That’s right, your profile is a web page like any other. Remember, there are 830+ million web pages visitors could be looking at. They’re going to spend 10 seconds or less looking at your profile. If your profile fails to capture their attention in a compelling way, these visitors are gone.
Who are these visitors?
They’re potential employers, clients, recruiters, and those with opportunities. If you want these opportunities to flow your way, you’ll need to do two things.
- Attract attention: Your profile should be fascinating – this could mean you have a profile that’s alarming, mysterious, prestigious, powerful, passionate, rebellious, or trustworthy. So long as you keep things professional.
- Present your value proposition: Your value proposition needs to meet four criteria to be effective; it’s (a.) understandable, (b.) believable, (c.) appealing, and (d.)
This is the easiest way to boost your reputation and amplify the power and reach of your LinkedIn profile. It’s not about bragging, it’s about sharing precise details about the value you’ve provided wherever you go.
3. Share social proof
Do you know who GaryVee is?
He’s an entrepreneur and author; he’s built several successful companies, and he’s a well-known thought leader in the sales and marketing space. He uses social proof on his LinkedIn profile.
Take a look.
He has seven of the companies he’s built listed in his cover image. He’s got a great headshot (playful yet professional), and he’s listed as a 5-time NYT Bestselling Author. He also invites you to text him, and he shares his phone number with you.
He’s providing you with objective evidence to establish immediate credibility.
What about Grant Cardone?
His LinkedIn profile does the exact same thing.
Cardone does the same thing.
He’s the CEO of Cardone Capital, and he has $5.2 Billion in Assets Under Management. He’s an author, he’s got 500+ employees, half a million followers on LinkedIn alone, and lots of connections.
He’s using social proof to establish immediate credibility.
Why does this matter?
Establishing credibility with your audience is an essential must-have for your professional and company profiles. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, businesses are now the only trusted institution worldwide. Who are the most trusted people in the organization?
That’s right, it’s you.
Here, take a look for yourself.
Only scientists rank higher (by one point) than you.
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t just for you; it’s beneficial to your co-workers and the people you interact with daily. This extends the value and importance of your profile.
Okay, that’s a bit heavy.
How are you supposed to create value here? It’s easy to continue growing personally and professionally. Share the skills, awards, and recommendations you acquire as you stack achievements. Share content that demonstrates your expertise; do it in a way that adds value to those around you, both internally and externally. These are simple ways to build credibility and expertise.
4. Position yourself as a thought leader
Contributing valuable and authentic content that benefits others is the fastest way for a company or person to gain followers on Linkedin.
Here’s the thing.
We’re going to have to deal with good news and bad news.
First, the good news.
According to the 2021 LinkedIn Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report, “Decision-makers are still consuming: 54% say they spend more than one hour per week reading and reviewing thought-leadership content, and more than half, or 51% of C-level executives say they spend more time doing so than before the pandemic began.”
Okay. This is good news though, right?
Yes, it is. More decision-makers are consuming content than ever before on LinkedIn and other platforms. The pandemic changed their consumption habits considerably, which is wonderful news.
Now for the bad news.
“While consumption is up, satisfaction is not. The majority (71%) of decision-makers say that half or less than half of the thought-leadership content they read or watch gives them any sort of valuable insights.”
If you’re going to be a thought leader, value is a must-have. Your content needs to provide people with valuable information they can use to make decisions, to take action.
Here’s why this matters.
According to Gartner and Mckinsey, “the in-person, one-to-one sales model is fading away: B2B sales reps have roughly 5% of a customer’s time during their entire B2B buying journey. More decisions are being made digitally, and according to McKinsey, 70% – 80% of B2B decision-makers prefer it that way.”
Thought leadership is no longer optional, it’s necessary.
Thought leadership is rapidly becoming the main avenue organizations use to sell their products and services.
The bad news?
Most organizations aren’t creating content, they’re making noise—value-less, boilerplate content that fails to produce positive results for the reader in a meaningful way.
The bad news is also the good news.
If you choose to be different, your LinkedIn profile is the avenue you can use to generate value for yourself and your organization. How do you know your content has created value? Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, outlines his value formula.
- Create X dollars of value.
- Capture Y percent of X.
That’s the secret; your thought leadership needs to make dollars and cents. It needs to create value objectively; doing so means you’ll be able to create value for your organization on demand.
It’s really that simple.
How hard should your LinkedIn profile work for you?
In your hands, your LinkedIn profile could become a career maker and reputation booster. As we’ve seen, this isn’t a complicated or difficult thing to do. It just requires a consistent focus on creating value for those around you. If it’s used well, your LinkedIn profile will allow you to capture a percentage of the enormous value you create, providing you with a steady stream of ongoing opportunities.
Remember, this doesn’t just affect you.
An effective Company page on LinkedIn falls short if its employee profiles fail to communicate value. While potential hires will focus on your company’s messaging, they’ll be far more interested in what you have to say. So will your customers, suppliers, and professional colleagues. Done right, a Company page and its employee profile images and messaging will reinforce each other, creating a virtuous value cycle that rewards everyone.