How an unpolished LinkedIn profile can hurt your bottom line.

You may be thinking, how is my LinkedIn profile losing me money? If you’re not proactively using the biggest online business network in the world on a daily basis, then you’re leaving money on the table. Consider these following stats from power+formula 2012 LinkedIn User Survey:

  • 87% of members trust LinkedIn as a source of information affecting decision making.
  • 44.5% said increased face-to-face networking effectiveness.
  • 37.6% built new relationships with potential customers.

I was speaking with a group of sales executives who questioned the importance of having a well-developed and thoughtful LinkedIn profile. They challenged me by saying that their name and title was enough on LinkedIn? My response:

When you fail to create a polished LinkedIn profile, you’re telling your customers, your prospects, your partners, your boss and your peers one or more of the following:

  • You aren’t tech-savvy enough to know how to use social media or…
  • You don’t have any truly notable accomplishments or…
  • You don’t care. Being an amateur and part of all the static on LinkedIn is ok with you.

Don’t Be an Amateur Online

You would never go to a business meeting dressed in tatty faded blue jeans and an old pair of sneakers. Of course not. You want people to see you as a professional and a person they’d want to do business with.

Failing to build a professional LinkedIn profile has the same effect online as going to a business event dressed in the wrong clothes. You risk looking like an amateur. Even worse, you’ll look like someone people should avoid. Having a professional profile is especially important if you’re responsible for building new business or retaining customers.

To help you complete your LinkedIn profile wisely, here are five classic mistakes that scream “I’m an amateur!”

Mistake #1: No Photo (Or, a Bad One)


Studies show that people are seven times more likely to click on your LinkedIn profile if you’ve got a picture.

While not having a photo isn’t good, having a bad photo is worse. You need to make sure your picture sends the right message. A professionally taken headshot is key. Put your best foot forward by investing a couple of hundred dollars in your primary digital asset, your photo.

You can also use your new professional headshot in your email signature and all of your collateral. Your professional headshot says to your customers and prospects that you’re a professional and that you take your business and yourself seriously.

Mistake #2: A Useless Headline


Your headline is the most important piece of real estate on your profile because it’s tied directly to the search feature in LinkedIn. People find you based on keyword searches. If you have 2-3 keywords they are searching for in your headline, you’ll rise to the top of the results.

Your headline should also contain a strong value proposition. Too many professionals have their business title as their headline. Wrong! Your title should tell people why they should do business with you; or at least connect with you on LinkedIn. Tip: ABC – Always Be Connecting!

Mistake #3: A Long-Winded Summary in the Third Person

Did you copy and paste your Summary from your resume? Or worse, is it a long-winded piece written in the third person that drones on and on?

Like all content on the Web, your Summary should be formatted and written to scan, not read. That’s why using bullets and ascii graphics is important. Done correctly,

  1. You’ll draw people in to learn more about you.
  2. They’ll easily read what you do.
  3. How well you do it.

Use your Summary to roll-up your benefits into two to three quantifiable value propositions. Don’t put the reader to sleep with an epic novel. Instead, tease them with a short, impactful summary and the person will want to learn more about you.

Mistake #4: Not Making Your Value Interactive


One of the best features you can use to your advantage in your Summary is the Add Content feature. It allows you to add videos, case studies, white papers, ebooks and more. People can learn about the products and services you provide in an engaging way. A two minute video is much more valuable to you than a thousand product word description.

What’s even better is that people can watch videos and read ebooks directly on your profile. They don’t need to go to another site. You can even add lots of calls-to-actions like “Call me at (555) 555-5555 to learn more” within the content.

Mistake #5: No Call-to-Actions, No Leads


Speaking of call-to-actions, this is the biggest mistake of all. Professional marketers will tell you that publishing or producing any kind of Web content without a call-to-action is the biggest blunder you can make. Examples of call-to-actions include “Call me”, “Click here” or Download now”. How many of these are on your profile?

Beyond Amateur Mistakes

While those five are the biggest mistakes, there are other things to consider when building the best possible presence on LinkedIn. Keyword optimization, showcasing the right skills and including the best examples of additional experience you’ve had are all advanced attributes of LinkedIn profile optimization that can help you look good online and make you stand out.

The Bottom Line

Start doing what I’ve described above and you’ll be way ahead of the competition. Consider investing in a LinkedIn profile makeover by a professional who’s worked with hundreds of sales people.

Read more: LinkedIn Just Made a Savvy Business Move – And Nobody Noticed