A superstar Linkedin profile in 30 days

Whether to to keep in touch with (ex) colleagues, customers or a new employer, Linkedin remains the prime place to present yourself with style.

When it comes to being hired as a freelancer or a job applicant, having your invites to industry influencers accepted or generally presenting the best of yourself to the public, there are a few steps you can take to show that you put effort into your profile. These steps will not only give potential employers a good rundown of your skills and talents, but also aim to put the spotlight on the causes you believe is important to highlight your personality.

Of course you do not need to keep yourself to this 30 day number – you can work as fast or as careful as you like. But by separating everything out in daily bite-size chunks can help to keep the work manageable and allow you to keep up without getting overwhelmed. Additionally, the daily pace helps to break through the inevitable discomfort that will arise from connecting with your first “industry influencer” or applying for your first job.

Day 1: Your professional name

It may seem like a small deal, but make sure that your name on your profile is the one you want  to be known as. Many people have multiple first names, or have “personal name” which differs from their legal name. Make sure that people won’t be surprised when you introduce yourself as Hank when your profile lists your name as being Henry. The same goes for diminuitives, like “Ivy” as a short name for Yvette.

Day 2: Your profile picture

A very important keystone in your profile quality is the use of a professional profile picture. Not only is having one a major improvement, but when you have one made (don’t use a selfie!) you would be best off to get one with a 3/4 frontal view and the best smile you can muster. Discuss with your photographer if there are options to try out in terms of background color, or whether it is possible to change the background in postprocessing.

When you have your picture taken, dress up in the clothes for the job you’d want – as if you already were going to start on your first day. Not only will this show that you are ready for such a job, it will make you feel confident and ready to take on the world – and it shows in the picture!

Single color backgrounds work best, with blue, green and red appearing to be the most common. Make sure the lighting and resolution are adequate, and that the picture has a relatively tight crop around the face. It’s ok to show more hair or shoulder if you are proud of what you wear or how you have your hair, but make sure that it is all balanced. When in doubt play around with cropping and effects until it feels like the picture projects calm confidence to you.

Day 3: Your best foot forward tagline

Your tagline in many cases will be your job and the company you work at, such as “Corporate Recruiter at Rentacop”, but this is not the end-all and be-all of taglines. Adapting your tagline will draw much attention to yourself.

For example, you could decide to describe what you do instead of your job title, such as “Waking you up with the best coffee at Stepstone Coffee”. You have 110 characters to describe what you do, meaning you can also add secondary functions such as “Author, recruiter and senior partner at Jeremy Bligh’s”. Finally, if you want to remain concise you can use the @ sign to preface your employer or use | signs to separate functions. This clips up your tagline and makes it look neater.

If you don’t have a job right now you can list other activities, or simply the job you are looking for, such as “Experienced project manager @ your next under-budget and on-time experience” which lists not only what you can do but also delivers a brand promise of sorts.

Avoid taglines like “Looking for…” or “Unemployed”. Such are things best left to the more expanded section of your profile. Also avoid your last position being nothing more than you working at your self-named consulting company. As fine as this is, it does signal to others that you left your old job without finding a new position – a warning sign for being fired – leading potential recruiters and employers to wonder about your performance or ability to work in a team.

Day 4: Update your location

Your location should show where you work in most cases, but if you are thinking of moving or working in a different area, consider changing your location to your desired location instead. If you then back this up with a short piece in your introduction on why and how you want to move there once you’ve found the job you are looking for it shows a person with drive and a vision for the future.

Additionally, if you are planning to move, changing your profile to match where you want to be will give yourself a confidence boost as it moves from wishful thinking to a work in progress.

Day 5: Customize your URL

In your profile you also have the option of changing the default numbered URL for a Linkedin profile into your name – this is a must have because it makes it much easier to find you, and also makes sharing the link on (for example) a business card much easier.

Day 6: Upgrade your personal summary

Your summary should contain a number of useful snippets of information:

a) What kind of person are you?
b) What are you hoping to achieve?
c) Your unique selling points – what a recruiter or employer should take notice of

This is where you get to toot you own horn a bit – feel free to list your ability to produce a page of fully edited content per hour, your ability to remember facts and dates, or how your life was changed by meeting an important famous figure. Anything that makes you a more interesting person makes you memorable. And it’s those little things that make you stand out among a sea of competitors.

Day 7: Following target companies

Now that your profile looks more professional it’s time to start putting it to work. Search Linkedin for companies that are the kind you’d want to work for. Don’t limit yourself to whatever industry (like IT or Service Desk) you may be familiar with, but also look around for companies that are known for their inclusion, green and socially responsible programs or have recently entered the news for innovations. Follow these companies, and you will be kept up to date on them in your stream.

Day 8: Find “career peers”

Find people on Linkedin who either have a similar profile and job as yourself, as well as people who are in a position you would like to achieve. In short, at your level of employment and one step above. Make note of their listed skills and education, and see if there is anything there that you can use to improve your profile. Maybe you are reminded of that course in time management you had forgotten to add to your profile, for example.

These also represent ways to develop yourself – skills and experiences you can seek to gain in order to position yourself better on the market.

Day 9: Profile view reciprocity

Reciprocity means to give back for received benefits. When you visit someone’s profile make sure that you are not anonymous, so they can see that you checked up on them. Many of these people become curious who has checked out their profile and will look at yours in turn. Such profile views upgrade you in Linkedin’s “Social Selling Index” which is a rough measure of how engaging you are in Linkedin. A high index often gets you noticed sooner through other features.

Day 10: Join relevant groups

Many professions have associated groups where people join to discuss developments in their industry. Likewise causes like green IT, innovation and corporate responsibility and inclusion all have their own groups for people to join. Try to find as many of these as are applicable to you are request to join them. Not only will you get a lot of information out of this, but it brings you closer to influential people likely to be active in these groups.

When you find such people, you now have a way to introduce yourself when sending a Linkedin request. “I saw your post in X group and I would love to connect with you on Linkedin in because I share similar questions and opinions and want to know more”.

Day 11: Display the right skills

Once you find some “career peers” whose skills are matching your own, or you would want to have as well, it is time to display them. Often you can change the wordings on your own skills a little to make them more market conform. For example, think of the difference between “corporate accounting”, “corporate controlling” and “financial controlling”. These skills are similar, but one might be more on-target for getting hired in a particular industry. Check your peers!

Secondly, if you want to know what skills are important on a peer’s profile simply copy all the text on the profile and feed it into a wordle generator (like this one here) and see what comes out. Words that are used a lot are made bigger and more visible in a wordle and likely represent target words for you to focus on in you own profile.

Day 12: Show your development goals

Part of the new Linkedin interface is the inclusion of media files in your profile. If you are not yet someone who posts a lot or is a book author, considering making a nice powerpoint presentation where you set up what kind of development goals you have and include it in your profile. People checking out your profile will see what interests you, and it also shows that you have concreate plans for the future.

Showing that you already have some idea of your growth and development is massively appealing.

Day 13: Connect with names in the industry

Every industry has its share of “big names” who are drivers and motivators. They share the latest developments, are involved in panels and trade fairs, and always seem to have a greatly valued opinion on their industry’s future. Those are the people to try and connect to. Before you do, however, it might pay to connect with a handful of people around them so that when they see your invite they can see that you already have a few people in common – which lowers the threshold of accepting your request.

You also need to make sure that you customize these invites – this goes for these people more than anything. Their network is often a carefully crafted network of professionals, young talents and people “in the biz” and they are rightfully hesitant of just accepting any request. Frame your request to establish common ground, a reason for the invite as well as why you’d add value to their network. For some tips and examples, check out this link.

Day 14: Follow appropriate INfluencers

Some people are named “INfluencers” by Linkedin, often high-profile names in the business such as presidents of countries, CEOs of multinationals or people heading Non Profit Organizations. These people often share their insights and by sharing industry standards, events and sometimes even opportunities for employment they will change the nature of your network. Try and limit yourself to two or three INfluencers at most, based on your preferred industry, location or any special causes you might champion.

Day 15: Expand your network

At this point you will be much more comfortable sending out Invites and joining groups and networks. Now expand your network by looking through Linkedin for “career peers”, (former) colleagues as well as people working for the companies you are interested in. Make sure your network contains:

a) people doing the same work as you, or work you want to do or
b) people who are sharing meaningful content or
c) people who champion causes you support or
d) work for companies you have worked at or would want to work for

There is a mystical limit of about 250 connections above which people are much more likely to accept your invites than before, especially if you wrote a personalized one (always a good option). Above 500 connections you have generated a network big enough to last you through most of your career.

Day 16: See who viewed your profile

At this point you are likely viewed a lot by others, and it’s probably the first time that there are interesting conclusions you can draw from this. Two helpful tools in Linkedin’s “who has viewed your profile tool” are their jobs and how they found you.

People who work as recruiters, HR or headhunters have come across your profile because of what they were searching for. What terms were used to find you are also listed – so make good use of this and if interesting add these terms to your own profile to make you come up in searches more often.

If someone found your profile as a result of you visiting them first will also be listed as “found you through who’s viewed my profile”. Similarly, people often look at your profile because of the “people you may know” tool. Often the value of such views is low, but you might find a surprising connection among them.

Another valuable view is those coming from “mentioned in a Linkedin message”. This means that people have been talking about you, and often at least one person associated with that conversation. You can then see who they are, and if they are relevant to your network, invite them.

Day 17: Liking and replying

You will see a lot of posts come by in your summary feed, and maybe you have put a like or two on posts that interested you – now comes the time to break this habit and replacing it with the habit of liking every unique post you genuinely are interested in. Additionally, feel free to comment on these posts, whether you have special insights to share or just a “thanks for this post I found it interesting” message.

While your contribution’s value might not be high on that post, it will show up in the feeds of everyone you are connected to, increasing the visibility of the post and the author’s message.

Day 18: Gaining credibility

Aside of passive consumption of your feed, it is important if you want to advance in your industry to be a contributor and not just a consumer. Start a blog, for example at Blogger or WordPress, which has options for a free blog. Here you want to showcase your thoughts and present yourself, and potentially help others who are trying to make a move into the same industry you are in. Alternatively, blog about something you are passionate about, from beekeeping to sports, which highlights your personality.

Make sure that the subject is something you have enough passion for that you can keep up content at least once a week, and that you have a solid niche and audience in mind. These are the people who not only should be interested in what you have to say, but you want to create a two-way street between your blog and your Linkedin profile.

Alternatively, you can try setting up a channel on Youtube, if your subject relies on expression such as languages or interpersonal skills. Youtube has an excellent guide on setting up your channels here. You can combine vlog and blog by creating a business channel named after your blog.

This builds credibility in your industry and shows that you are either a talented professional or a passionate hobbyist who can add value to colleagues and employers.

Day 19: Spotlighting your work

As stated previously the Linkedin profile has an option for adding a portfolio of your work. If you have not yet added anything here, make sure to add insights here from your blog or vlog, or whatever other media you have published in.

Day 20: Posting canned content

If you already work for a company, chances are their marketing department will create prefabricated and curated content for you to share. Such content is often duplicated by a lot of people at the company, but you have the chance to rewrite the post introducing the link to whatever content was created. This means you can use your own voice and remain a genuine poster rather than someone spamming canned content.

Canned content can be great to add volume to the amount of content you generate or engage on Linkedin – as long as you make sure to change the post itself sufficiently for it to remain unique.

Day 21: Exposing yourself in real life

Don’t limit yourself to stately full-length posts or canned content. When you visit trade fairs or events you can post pictures of the event. Especially if you add in colleagues, partners and customers you met you will add greater weight to both your involvement as well as spotlighting the event and its organisers. If your update was interesting enough, they will often run with it and spread it further.

Day 22: The value of volunteering

Many people spend some of their personal time assisting others and supporting valued causes ranging from assisting the elderly or infirm to promoting green technology or combating the decline of the humble honeybee. All such efforts are not just valued on themselves, but as you are the one performing them they also say a little about yourself and your values.

Add your volunteer causes to your profile to flag to others what you value and respect – and also to be considered for all manner of opportunities to delve deeper in related subjects. If you are a known proponent for electrical cars you might want to be made aware when there is a trial for such cars in your area. By following electric car companies and championing green technology you come closer to the source.

Day 23: Responding to updates

Birthdays, job changes and anniversaries – Linkedin does a lot of effort to keep you updated on your connections’ status. In such cases it is good to renew your ties by sending a personalized message on Linkedin congratulating people on their milestones.

One of the easiest things to forget when improving your profile is that it’s not about you at all, but about your connections, the people you interact with. Your job is to remain Human and genuine, and not falling into the trap of creating a fake and plastic profile which immediately signals to others that your only interest is your career.

Day 24: Branching out

There are an astounding number of secondary social media sites you can utilize if you want to branch out or gain access to specialized communities. Often specific indistries such as lawyers and medical personnel have their own alternative profile and community sites. It pays to search around and see if your (target) industry has such a site and duplicate your efforts there. Often a Linkedin account can be used to log in and set up your profile there in no time.

Day 25: Receiving and giving recommendations

Endorsements were once touted as one of the great “vetting systems” on Linkedin. However, currently it means very little as anyone can endorse you for your skills and how valuable that is cannot be measured. Many times you will see connections endorsing you for skills you do not even have, or when they do not even know what your skill levels are like.

Recommendations however are a different thing – they require more effort than clicking a button and really connect what you did for them with your skills. As such it pays to ask your colleagues and managers for recommendations on Linkedin. The best thing to do is explain to them that you are trying to build up your credibility in your field and would like them to add a recommendation for skill X and job Y, as well that you are willing to recommend them in return.

This will not increase the chances of them giving you that recommendation, but it will also already focus what you expect them to write. That way they will help you focus on the skills and talents you want showcased.

Day 26: Set milestones

Now review all you have done and the changes your profile has undergone. This will give you a good estimate on the value these changes will have had on your profile and professional career. From here on, set milestones what you want to achieve with your profile. Think about metrics such as:

  • Number of views based on Linkedin searches
  • Number of Likes on my posts
  • Number of comments on my posts that challenged me but I responded well to
  • Number of connection requests per week from people in my (target) industry

Day 27: Apply for a job – and set yourself available

Even if you are not looking for a job, you want to know what your network thinks you are capable of. First off, go to the “Jobs” section and make sure that you are set to be available for new opportunities, and have filled in your target locations, jobs and industries. This will allow you to set some good goalposts on the kind of job offers you would expect.

Now you will find Linkedin promoting jobs daily – if you find an interesting job, have the courage to apply for it. Even if you think you are not a 100% fit, or if you think it might be too high for you. The way up is always fighting gravity, complacency and self-doubt. There is no harm in being turned down, it still gave you valuable insight in how much credibility and professionalism you have. From there, formulate plans to improve yourself and your presentation.

Day 28: Help another find a job

If you see an interesting job opportunity which you personally will not apply to, feel free to share it to your network on Linkedin. There is a good chance that sharing such an opening might allow someone from your network to find a new position and that sort of positive karma comes back for you later. Likewise, if someone asks for advice that is relevant to your job and industry, it pays to become involved and take on a mentor role. All great names in every industry where known for what they did to give others a chance, not only themselves.

Day 29: Rise to the occasion

If you have aspirations for management, the key skills to learn are learnt best from someone who already mastered them. Whether you have a job or not, it pays to find a mentor figure in management and ask them if you could be allowed to shadow them or receive coaching to assist you in acquiring the necessary skills.

If you are currently employed then your own management is obviously the best target (or else you might draw suspicions of wanting to jump corporate ship) but otherwise it doubles not just as a learning experience but also a job opportunity.

Day 30: Analyse and repeat – always

Once you have given your profile a once-over, are connected and engaged and improving yourself every day you will find that your profile becomes outdated on a weekly basis. Give yourself a little time every month at the very least to review if your profile still connects to how you work and how you want to present yourself. Update your summary and tagline, check your skills and related endorsements for validity, and prune your contact list.

Sometimes you will find that as your career progresses your network now contains a wild growth of connections who have switched jobs three times and are now very much out of your reach. Now you need to decide whether or not to keep them as connections. This is a purely personal process based on whether you like the person, are interested in their work and progress, feel you can add mutual value and so on.

How you manage your network is not as important as that you do it in the first place. Make sure that your network contributes to you as much as vice versa, or else it becomes a swamp of unrelated posts and empty courtesy messages.

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