Updated September 2020
Over the last decade I’ve read a lot of LinkedIn profiles.
I’ve helped thousands of professionals improve their own profiles. And I do a lot of networking and selling so I’m always looking at what people write about themselves.
And here’s the reality:
Not all profiles are good.
Sure, some of them are really useful. I can read the profile and understand what the person does, who they work with, and why I would want to connect with them. Others miss all of those main points.
This is important. Because if your profile isn’t useful to your reader, then you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Engage Your LinkedIn Visitor
A great profile lets the reader know who you are as a professional and how you help. A bad one just leaves people scratching their head. I actually read this sentence on a LinkedIn Profile (I’ve changed details to protect the uninformed):
I enjoy vectoring in on product/marketing strategy and taking intelligent risks to further my company’s mission. Constantly aspiring to work in an agile and effective manner across real and perceived functional boundaries to demonstrate leadership, leverage, and results.
Here’s the deal – this person is actually a highly-capable, highly-qualified, successful person. But that doesn’t come through at all because it’s lost in jargon and business-euphemisms. It happens all the time because of LinkedIn’s roots in resumes and technical writing.
Unfortunately for you, your readers don’t want to slog through all that mumbo-jumbo to figure out what you actually do. They aren’t looking for your autobiography, they want to know if you can help them with whatever problem they are trying to solve.
The LinkedIn Profile Rule
Here’s my new rule for LinkedIn profiles (and I write this only half in jest), D. Fish’s Axiom of Proper Language in LinkedIn Profiles:
If you wouldn’t say a sentence in the real world,
don’t write it in your LinkedIn profile.
That’s it. When you write something on your LinkedIn profile, say it out loud before you publish it. Can you imagine someone hearing what you wrote and going, “What in tarnation does that mean?” (in Yosemite Sam’s voice). Then you should go back and rewrite what you just wrote.
Make your profile clear, concise, and understandable. Because if it’s not, if your visitors have to decipher what you have on your profile, no one will care if you are brilliant or not. They will have already stopped paying attention.