“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”– Dad

This piece of advice applies to events throughout your life – from your first of day school to the first time someone stalks views your online profile. There is no such thing as a first impression mulligan! If your foray into social selling starts with an outdated or incomplete profile, valuable time spent prospecting will likely be wasted.

Previously, LinkedIn was viewed as a place for those who were desperately seeking employment. Today, the platform has evolved into a powerful sales tool. LinkedIn is one of the best places for you to establish your professional brand. Fifteen years in, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 500 million users. As such, your social profile should not merely be a repurposed resume.

Have you ever searched for someone on LinkedIn only to find their profile is nothing more than their name or their photo is 20 years old? Do you sort of feel like they’re lazy? It’s frustrating and doesn’t reflect well on the individual. Maybe they just aren’t into social media, but that doesn’t change your perception. Don’t be that person… especially if you’re using LinkedIn as part of your sales process.

Unsure how to get started? Here are 5 ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile for social selling.

5 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

1. Have a professional profile picture

Why It’s Important

Consider how you want potential business connections to view you. According to LinkedIn, profiles with pictures earn an InMail response rate of 40%. Do you have a professional profile picture? We all love cute baby pictures; however, they don’t project the best professional image of YOU at first glance.

How To Start

Many organizations or professional conferences (like SalesLoft’s Rainmaker) offer opportunities to have a headshot taken. If you don’t have access to those resources, you can source a photo on your own. That doesn’t mean a duck face selfie. Recruit a friend or family member to take the shot for you.

Tips & Tricks

Wear business attire for your photo. Choose a solid color shirt and stand in front of a simple background in a well-lit area. Don’t forget to smile! Your profile picture is chance to communicate that you are likable and trustworthy.

Example:

Kyle Porter LinkedIn profile

2. Make your headline compelling

Why It’s Important

A headline is a chance to state your value proposition quickly. It’s unlikely that your job title is indicative of the value you bring your customers. It most certainly won’t help you rise above the noise. The headline is the first line people will read about you are. Make it count! (No pressure.)

Tips & Tricks

Writing a compelling headline isn’t as difficult as you think. Think outside of the box and use the space to describe two things: who you help and how you do it. Not sure how to put it into words? Fill in the blanks below:

Helping [the people you serve] Do [outcomes most impactful to their business].

Think carefully about the keywords you include in your headline. LinkedIn crawls your headline to pull search results. Choose keywords that people would most likely use to find someone like you and incorporate them into your headline.

How To Get Started

Look for people in a role similar to yours at companies you admire. Analyze their headlines and see if they’re doing something that you can translate to your position. Then do something just a little bit better (or a lot better, if the opportunity presents itself).

Example:

Compelling LinkedIn headline example

3. Write a concise summary

Why It’s Important

When writing your summary, think about how you introduce yourself in a business setting. Your LinkedIn summary is a virtual elevator pitch. Elevator rides are 20 seconds. That doesn’t give you much time to make an impression. Use no more than three paragraphs with 3-4 short sentences to deliver your pitch.

Tips & Tricks

Make sure your summary highlights the key benefits of your offering, and tailor it to the audience you hope to reach. For instance, if you sell project management software to a niche industry, include a sentence or two about what your tailored solution means to customers in that market.

Reiterate the value proposition that you so eloquently described in your headline, and provide social proof of how you help companies achieve results. End the summary with a brief call-to-action explaining why a buyer would want to be in touch with you.

How To Get Started

There are two easily accessible pieces of information that can help to structure your summary. The job description you read as part of your hiring process will have a lot of great words and phrases for you to consider. Additionally, your company’s “About Us” or paragraph at the end of press releases is an excellent source of inspiration. Step it up a notch by adding your own spin. Just like you did in #2, seek out the profiles of people you admire for inspiration.

Example:

LinkedIn summary example

4. Post examples depicting how you help clients

Why It’s Important

LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to include media in your profile. While it may read similarly to a resume, you should not view your page as a static document. It’s an ever-changing digital portfolio of your experience. Write about relevant experience, and include presentations or visuals highlighting your best work.

Tips & Tricks

People are visual. The phrase, “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” is famous for a reason. Don’t bore people with 20 bullet points about a job you had 15 years ago. Presentations and project photos visually differentiate your value proposition. Does your company create amazing custom software applications for clients? Share a screenshot or a mock-up from your last implementation.

How To Get Started

Forgive the broken record, but look for inspiration in the profile of someone you admire. Don’t plagiarize; instead, use the ideas as a starting point. Rummage through your company’s blog posts, release notes, social media posts and other marketing materials for content. It’s content ripe for stealing! Marketing will be happy to see you’re using the material they created for you. Don’t hesitate to show off your work – you’ll give the marketing team the warm fuzzies and build a closer relationship with them.

5. Emphasize how you enable customers to grow their businesses

Why It’s Important

What do you hope to gain by being active on LinkedIn? If you are researching business development opportunities or getting to know a new client, the first thing you do is their LinkedIn profile. You want to learn more about their background and discover common ground. The reverse is also true.

When you send an InMail to a prospect, the first thing they do is explore your profile. Make sure the information they find is relevant.

Tips & Tricks

Write your experience section with an emphasis on how you enabled customers to improve their businesses. That’s what is impactful to a prospect, not how many times or by how much you exceeded quota.

How To Get Started

What was true for points 2-4 remains true for your experience section. Additionally, be sure to leverage content included in your first call pitch and other training and coaching materials to get traction.

Example:

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Social Selling


Now that you’ve completed your profile, it’s time to start selling. We’ll post a guide for getting started with social selling soon. In the meantime, start making connections!

Pro tip: Don’t request to connect with someone until you’ve had at least one interaction – either in person or online. If you have a mutual connection, send a personalized invitation explaining why you’d like to be in their network. Start adding value immediately by linking to research that’s relevant to them, or sharing an insight related to an article they recently shared. Personalization shows that you did your research and are genuinely interested in building a relationship.

Pssst… did you know that SalesLoft now offers LinkedIn Sales Navigator steps? These allow salespeople to include four kinds of LinkedIn Sales Navigator steps (InMail, Research, Connection Request, & Ask for an Introduction) in cadences that can be executed directly from within SalesLoft and Salesforce.