The 5 Essential Elements of an Optimized and Useful LinkedIn Profile


If you’re in business, chances are you’re on LinkedIn, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in May, 2013, and now has over 225 members worldwide. Known as the most “business-y” of social media sites, LinkedIn is considered a critical place to connect with others in business. And while it’s likely that you already have a LinkedIn Profile, it’s unlikely that it’s optimized to provide the best business opportunities for you.

An important reason to review your profile now is the fact that, in late 2012, LinkedIn began rolling out new features and functionality within LinkedIn Profiles.

An Optimized, Useful LinkedIn Profile

1. A Complete Profile

The good news is that completing your profile isn’t just busy work. It’s actually the ONLY way you will be able to be found effectively within LinkedIn. That’s because the LinkedIn search algorithm first looks for 100% completed profiles.  If yours is not complete, you will probably end up at the bottom of search rankings.

In addition, a completed LinkedIn Profile means that someone searching for you on Google will almost always find your LinkedIn Profile near the top of the first page. Google loves LinkedIn and LinkedIn ranks higher on Google than all other social media profiles, according to a study by Brand Yourself, in an article on Mashable.

All-Star Status

Your goal should be to reach “All-Star” Status or a 100% completed Profile. Your status will show on the right-hand side of your profile:

linkedin profile

Although the graphic shows a circle not entirely filled out, in actuality, it means that your profile is complete.

Here is a list of areas that must be filled in to reach All-Star status:

  1. Your industry and location
  2. Your current position (with a description)
  3. Two past positions
  4. Your education
  5. Your skills (minimum of 3)
  6. A profile photo
  7. At least 50 connections

2. A Headline with a Call to Action

A great headline is like the subject line of an email.  You need an amazing subject line to hook people in enough to read the rest of the message.

The headline is the first line of text people see in a search and it’s the first thing they see when they get to your profile page.   Oh, and by the way, one of the new LinkedIn profile features rolled out in late 2012 is increased text size in the headline area.

What Makes a Great Headline

Let’s start with what doesn’t make a great headline:  Your company name and title.

Start by considering that there are only 120 characters available in your Linked profile headline.  That means you’ll need to great creative.

Here are some tips:

  • Keywords count in headlines (see item #4, below), so include them when appropriate.
  • Use words that will appeal to your ideal clients.
  • Include a free call-to-action (consult, newsletter, seminar, report).

Here is a headline example:
margieDon’t be afraid to change and test different headlines to see which ones generate the best activity for you.

3. Professional Photo

Did you know that a LinkedIn Profile with a professional headshot is 7 times more likely to be viewed than a profile without one?

Plus, a profile photo is required in order to obtain 100% LinkedIn profile completeness. To further emphasize its importance, one of the new features rolled out in the late 2012 profile functionality is an enlarged, more prominent area for your photo.

The current specs are as follows:

  • You can upload JPG, GIF or PNG files.
  • File size – 4MB maximum.
  • Pixel size: 200 x 200 minimum and 500 x 500 maximum.
  • Your photo should be square

4. Keywords in Certain Sections of Your Profile

The last thing you want to do to your profile is make it annoying to viewers by keyword stuffing. That said, the strategic use of keywords in your LinkedIn profile is important.

It’s important to know that LinkedIn’s search algorithm values keywords in certain sections more than others. Those sections include:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Current work experience
  • Past work experience
  • Skills & expertise

Here’s how it works in real life:

I went into a client’s account and did a search for “Small Business P.R.” At the moment I’m not using the term “Small Business P.R.” in my headline, but I still showed up on the first page of my client’s search because those words are included in some of the other five sections.

Here’s what showed up on my client’s screen:
margie linkedinIn addition to keywords, the LinkedIn search algorithm looks at profile completeness, connections in common, level of connection (1st and 2nd degree and groups show up before 3rd) and groups in common.

5. Terrific Recommendations

We tend to give more credibility to a third party saying something is great than to a person or business saying that he/she or the business is great.  That’s why recommendations on LinkedIn are so important.

When it comes to LinkedIn recommendations, you know the old adage: It’s better to give than to receive.

In addition to all the great karma and solidifying the relationship benefits you get from giving them, it’s always easier to get a recommendation from someone after you’ve given one.

Here are some general tips on giving great recommendations on LinkedIn:  

  1. Short and sweet is fine.  A couple of lines are great.  People have shorter attention spans today.
  2. Include specifics that quantify the results the person helped you achieve:  10 media placements that led to an additional $20,000 in sales; saved our company $1,000 per month; installed a process that saved 10 hours a week in time.
  3. Don’t forget the sizzle (and sometimes the sizzle trumps specific results). Which is more impactful:

“Margie is great at what she does” or this:

linkedin profile

The bottom line:  If you’re interested in maximizing your relationships and business opportunities, make these updates to your LinkedIn profile today.

Image: LinkedIn

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Margie Zable Fisher Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, helping small businesses connect with clients and potential clients online and offline through Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing. She offers free, award-winning tips at Zable Fisher Public Relations.

17 Reactions
  1. These are great information. I just had a remark, I noticed that there is a phone number in the tagline, having an email address, website address or a phone number in the name area or tagline area is against LinkedIn ToS (Terms of Services) and they can suspend an account for that –

  2. Great LinkedIn profile advice – the Headline call to action especially.

    I find that in LinkedIn today, it’s often the personal, non-business connection between two people that drives things. The LinkedIn profile Interest section is ideal for this. Put in simple words of things that interest you separated by commas. This makes clickable links.

    Enter “skiing” and have lots in common with lots of people. Enter “cross country skiing” and have more in common with fewer people. I suggest a little bit of both. For me it’s music, concerts, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd. Call it a combination of “short tail” and “long tail” keywords.

  3. Thank you for the great insight. Truly appreciate your investment in sharing these BP’s.

    Questions… In the section on “Did you know that a LinkedIn Profile with a professional headshot is 7 times more likely to be viewed than a profile without one?” can you provide the source of this finding? It would be great for me to share with my team and that questions will surface. Thanks in advance for your help.

  4. I also find that LinkedIn is perfect for finding a job. Since it shows your network, it shows you the people that you know and how it can benefit your future job. The problem is that most people just create a profile and leave it to the dust. They don’t know how much a LinkedIn profile can help them as long as they manage it properly.

  5. Brilliant ideas! I feel like social media being utilized B2B is still emerging and will continue to grow. Thank you for your advice.

  6. Thanks Margie, for the informative tips! I like the Call to Action in the headline. I presently use a value proposition headline, (what, for who and benefit). I will test the cta for sure. Its also good to use cta in the summary.