LinkedIn is the undisputed king of social networks for professionals.
With over 562 million users in more than 200 countries worldwide LinkedIn has a global reach. Plus, the network makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs.
While Facebook has more people, LinkedIn is the preferred network for pros — those who connect with the sole goal of doing business not just socialize. It’s the most business-friendly social site.
If you’re a serious brand LinkedIn is the place to be. But being there is not enough. You have to get noticed by keeping tabs on the platform’s best practices and use them to stay ahead of the pack. Plus, you’ve got to find a way to attract the right people to connect with you. That starts with optimizing the first thing people see when they view your profile page: the header area.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes, maybe you’re asking yourself:
Is LinkedIn worth it?
The answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why.
LinkedIn: The Social Platform You Can’t Afford To Ignore
Think LinkedIn is all hype and no substance?
Not at all.
This platform is a marketing goldmine. It’s number one when it comes to a crucial metric all serious brands watch like a hawk: leads. That’s why LinkedIn must be part of your overall marketing strategy.
Clearly, LinkedIn is a lead-gen super-power. It makes all other ways of generating leads through social media seem like child’s play. Ignore it at your own peril. But to get those leads you’ve got to set up your profile wisely especially the header area.
It’s the part of your profile page people see first. Botch it and prospects click away. Nail it and they stay on and give you a chance to engage them further— and woo them into your funnel.
Not only that.
Your header area is above the fold.
People see your header without having to scroll. Through it, you’ve got to convince would-be customers it’s worthwhile for them to scroll down and find out more about you and your brand.
A good header does four things well.
1. Makes a good first impression.
2. Keeps readers on your profile page.
3. Sparks interest in what you do.
4. Boosts your authority.
To achieve all this you’ve got to fine-tune and optimize three key elements of your header area.
1. Your Photo.
2. Your Image.
3. Your Headline.
Let me show you how.
Your Profile Photo: A Priceless Visual First Impression
People’s gaze naturally gravitates towards human faces.
So the first thing prospects will look at is your profile photo. And, they’re not just staring. Something deeper is going on.
Here’s the thing.
People make rush judgments about you solely based on how you look. Think that’s not fair? Well, sorry, it’s what it is.
Maybe you think you can make do without one? Bad idea. Not having a profile photo causes people’s minds go into overdrive and make negative assumptions about you like:
- She’s definitely hiding something.
- Maybe she’s a spammer.
- She’s not serious about connecting.
- Heck, she doesn’t even understand how LinkedIn works, a clueless amateur!
Hardly the impression you want to make is it?
What are the advantages of having a photo on your profile?
LinkedIn data shows that having a profile photo can get you:
- 21x more profile views
- 9x more connection requests
- 36x more messages
Exciting stuff, hey?! But it’s not just any photo that’ll get you these results. Here are three golden rules to guide you so you come up with the perfect photo.
First, please smile. Preferably a teeth smile.
Don’t take a smile for granted. It packs a powerful psychological punch. Smiling makes you look welcoming, competent and trustworthy. Science aside, smiling just makes you look cool. J
Second, look straight at the camera.
Look sideways and people may think you’re timid, or worse, a car thief! Research shows people find a direct gaze attractive.
Third, make sure there’s no clutter in your photo.
It may distract people’s attention from you.
In short, look like a pro. Remember, LinkedIn is a platform for professionals (read with an accent!). So that vacation photo of you on the beach won’t do.
Jason Quey, who helps startups meet with contract marketers to grow their businesses faster, does a good job with his photo.
He’s looking straight ahead. Plus, he has a beaming smile. Looks like a nice guy to work with, doesn’t he? Well, that’s the idea.
A research by Princeton psychologists revealed that it takes just a tenth of a second for people to decide whether you are trustworthy and competent, just by looking at your face.
Better get your photo right so you make a great first impression. Mess it up and you might never get a second chance to wow prospects.
Your Image: An Untapped Rich Goldmine
Once people have glanced at your (hopefully) nice pro-looking pic, their eyes wander around the rest of the page.
And probably land on the wide space behind your photo.
I’m surprised how many people leave this space empty. By leaving the default blue area untouched you’re not realizing your header’s full marketing potential.
Because it occupies the biggest space of your header, it sets the tone for the whole page. It provides a context for everything else that follows
What can you do to maximize this space?
A couple of things.
You could use it for social proof.
Show prospects you’re the real deal. John Nemo, who happens to be a LinkedIn expert, does a superb job of proving his authority. He plasters his header with the big niche sites his work has been featured on.
Think this works?
People acknowledge his expertise straightaway.
A variation of this tactic would be to show the giant brands you’ve served.
Second, use a gem testimonial that sums up what you do memorably or showcases your brilliance. Brownie points if it’s an influencer testimonial as they’re 3x as powerful.
Finally, you could use a graphic that underlines what your brand does. This way you give a visual emphasis to what you are about. Whatever you do, don’t put a generic graphic. It’d be such a waste.
Your Professional Headline: A Pithy Pregnant Sentence
Both your photo and background graphic are visual.
Not so the last piece of the puzzle, your professional headline.
It’s all about words, 18-20 of them to be precise, and how you weave them to powerfully communicate the value you provide your prospects.
Your title is not really about you. It’s about the unique value you convey to your prospects and customers.
Many people just use their job title. Big mistake. C’mon. You’re bigger than your title. All the great work you do cannot be compressed into one often dry-sounding and stifling title.
Say more. Describe all the awesome benefits of doing business with you.
But keep things simple.
After all Da Vinci said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Sam Ovens, who teaches ordinary folk how to start and grow a successful consulting business, keeps things basic but punchy enough to communicate his message convincingly.
In just 8 words people can tell what he’s into. Or, more importantly, how they’ll benefit from working with him.
That’s what you want. A simple and clear message people get easily. Don’t make it hard work for people to understand what you do for them. If you load your headline with your high-sounding title and corporate mumbo-jumbo, people will leave.
Your headline should answer these five questions that are burning in your prospects mind as she checks you out.
- Who are you? (identity)
- What do you do? (product or service)
- Whom do you do it for? (audience)
- What makes you different? (unique selling proposition or USP)
- Why should I trust you? (social proof)
You may not be able to answer all of them. But the more the merrier. Remember, your headline should be client-facing. View it from the customers’ standpoint instead of being inward looking and focusing on your brand.
Ask yourself what’s in it for them.
That way you’re bound to scratch their itch and make them warm up to you.
Your LinkedIn Profile Header: The Start of a Leads Avalanche
A stellar header starts prospects on a slippery slope.
It grabs them and never lets go.
Once they’re struck by your brilliance they can’t help but scroll down to the summary and the rest of the profile.
Before they know it, they’ll be in your funnel’s orbit.
And, once they’re in your funnel, they’ll eventually become paying customers. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
According to his cheeky wife’s baseless claims, Qhubekani Nyathi aka The Click Guy, is an irresistibly handsome dude. He helps SMBs rapidly grow their income and impact through actionable long-form content that ranks high, builds authority, and generates tons of leads. He is a contributor to top blogs like Crazy Egg, Search Engine People, Techwyse, AWAI, and more.