I’m always looking for a few good tips on improving the LinkedIn profile (and I want to keep tabs on what everyone else is talking about), so I read a lot of articles that are some variation of “X number of ways to make your LinkedIn profile work for you”. Most give solid foundational tips for the profile; but I see one idea over and over again that I have to say something about. It seems like basic advice but I think it’s actually counter-productive. I cringe every time I see it because it’s horrible advice to give someone who is reading an article on the basics of writing a LinkedIn profile:
Create a keyword-rich summary and experience section in your profile to bolster your SEO efforts.
On the face of it, is this bad advice? No, it’s actually a great idea… if you are already comfortable writing keyword-rich online material. If you know what that advice actually means, go for it.
But here’s the thing: most people who are writing their LinkedIn profiles aren’t brand marketers and ad agency copywriters. Most professionals don’t have the time to craft a carefully-worded LinkedIn profile. Most barely have the time to craft a poorly-worded profile (if you don’t know how poorly-worded most profiles are, spend 10 minutes randomly viewing profiles and you’ll see how many desperately need help). Heck, most of us aren’t even comfortable writing about ourselves (or writing at all).
Telling a LinkedIn newbie to write keyword-rich text is like putting a novice skier on a double black diamond slope. They take one look at it and say “Screw this, I’m going to get some hot chocolate”. It’s doing them a huge disservice, because instead of sharing their professional story in a meaningful way, they avoid it all together. It can take me hours to craft a keyword-driven content, and I’m an experienced writer who works with LinkedIn for a living, so let’s not expect someone brand new to the process to be an expert.
What can you do then if you are first diving into your social media profiles? How should you write your summary if you aren’t a copy-writing master?
- Don’t worry about the keywords.
- Just tell your story.
- Use your own voice.
- Be genuine.
- Tell me about yourself and what you do like you were telling a new friend.
And here’s the kicker. If you tell me your story with confidence and passion, those pesky keywords tend to show up anyway.