11. LinkedIn Writing Tips (Sell Yourself)
Writing is one of the biggest hindrances when creating a LinkedIn profile. The vast majority of people do not have jobs where they have to write in a way that is interesting and informative to others…
We’re at a point now where completing your LinkedIn profile is going to require a reasonable amount of writing.
Sadly, though, most people aren’t very good at it.
And usually that’s OK. Most people’s jobs don’t require them to write in an interesting, engaging manner.
The problem is, that doesn’t hold true for getting a job, or a promotion, or a new client. In order to move on to the next level, you not only have to be better than the competition, you also have to be able to prove it.
And that’s why, before we continue to go through constructing your profile, I’d like to provide a few tips for writing a powerful, attention grabbing LinkedIn Profile.
The first of these tips is simply: Sell yourself.
I’d hope this would go without saying, but people often become exceptionally modest when they start to write about their achievements. This can be exceptionally harmful, because you can absolutely guarantee you’ll have competitors who don’t suffer from this affliction. They’ll be taking advantage of every achievement, every promotion, every tiny thing they can use to make themselves look like the consummate professionals every business is looking for.
Put that up against a modest LinkedIn profile, and it’s easy to guess who will be successful.
The most common, and least forgivable, example of underselling is not making use of specific figures when you have them available to you. Informing your audience that under your supervision sales role by £500,000 (22.6%) does not make you seem arrogant.
It makes you look fantastic.
So go ahead, make the most of your knowledge, skills, achievements and experience – You’ve literally earned it.
Of course, there are some limitations. It’s best, for example, not to lie.
For a start, LinkedIn profiles are viewable by anybody else with an account, so there’s a good chance someone will notice if you’re taking liberties with the truth.
Beyond this, however, you should also avoid making too big a deal of something. In other words, you should actively avoid hyperbole.
If, for example, you implemented a new system for buying office stationery, you should definitely mention that. It’s a valid achievement, and if you really put a lot of time and effort into developing the new system you could even say you had ‘revolutionised’ the process. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But what you absolutely shouldn’t do is exaggerate the benefits of the work you did. Buying stationery is an irritation in most offices, usually because it doesn’t happen until after the new stationery was actually needed. With that in mind, suggesting your new system made life easier for your 15 colleagues is perfectly reasonable.
On the other hand, suggesting that you permanently cured the office of tensions is not going to be believable.
And by the way, before you laugh that example off as ridiculous, it’s a real one that I read in a CV several years ago.
Once again, statistics are a great way to go when listing achievements – You can’t argue with statistics, but you certainly can question intangible benefits such as office harmony.
The old adage goes that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s never more true than with your LinkedIn profile. Strict character limits and the ready availability of alternative candidates, suppliers and freelancers mean you have to be on top of your game to succeed.
Not planning your LinkedIn profile content is the quickest way to ruin your credibility. You’re spending all this time putting together a profile that shows you off in the best possible light, and immediately hamstringing your chances of success.
Powerful, concise writing can only result from clear thinking. Or as Einstein put it: “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
And there’s no excuse for lack of understanding in your LinkedIn Profile – The subject is you, so you really ought to be the expert!
The fastest and simplest way to write clearly and concisely is to plan your work thoroughly.
What are you going to say?
How are you going to say it?
What’s your conclusion?
By planning in advance, you’ll make the task of writing much easier, and the result much more powerful.
Perhaps the simplest way to plan a section of your LinkedIn profile – your summary, for example – is to think about precisely what points you want to get across. There won’t be space to cover everything in one section, but if you devote some time to planning you can be sure to fit in everything you need to keep your audience engaged.
Simply take out a pen and paper, and jot down everything you want to include. If you’re writing a free text section such as your summary, you’ll want to cover each subject in a separate paragraph. If you’re listing achievements you’ll want to get your point across in a very succinct manner – probably a single sentence.
Once you’ve got your list of subjects ready, go through each one and write down everything you can think of that relates to that subject. For instance, if you’re writing about your ability to analyse data, you would jot down the different techniques and programs you’ve used, statistical methods you’re versed in, and how you’re able to reach conclusions and recommendations.
You may ultimately decide not to use everything in your profile, but this process will help you to decide exactly how much information you need to include in order to make your point, and what you can skip without harming your chances of success.
When all is said and done, it’s easy to tell when someone hasn’t planned their LinkedIn profile in advance. There are repetitions everywhere, their language is muddled, and their achievements don’t support the expertise they’re trying to convey.
Don’t look like an amateur. Plan your profile.