When was the last time you took a close look at your LinkedIn profile?
When someone finds you on LinkedIn and you make a poor impression, that’s a business opportunity lost. It could have been a new client. It could have been a new business partner. It could have been a referral.
Who knows? You don’t, because your profile sent that LinkedIn user running in the opposite direction.
Want to make sure this doesn’t happen ever again? Read through the following reasons why your LinkedIn profile probably stinks. Don’t worry; you can reverse the damage by following this advice.
1. Your profile reads like the dull resume of someone you wouldn’t want to meet
Have you ever read something so dull you had a hard time keeping your eyelids from sealing shut?
That’s the kind of boring I’m talking about.
Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to sound like a corporate resume. In fact, the less it reads like a resume, the better off you’ll be.
Solution: Start from scratch. Okay, you might be able to keep some of the stuff you have on your profile, but give it a new spin. Put some color into your description. Be creative when listing your work history.
Pretend you’re someone else and you’re reading your profile. Does it make you think, “Wow, this person sounds really cool!” or is it a little more like, “Wait…would I even want to have a conversation with this person?”
2. The “smart” words you use to describe yourself are too buzz-wordy
Or you want to sound cool like everyone else, so you use phrases like “highly creative,” “detail-oriented” and “extensive experience.”
The problem with highly uncommon words is that no one knows what in the world you’re trying to say. And no one wants to go look it up (like you did) in order to figure it out.
Buzzwords are subjective and therefore not effective. Plus, they make you sound like you’re trying too hard.
Solution: Here’s a list of the most overused words on LinkedIn. Read them, and then banish them from your LinkedIn profile forever. Instead, try using objective words that will help you avoid sounding like a giant cliché. Here’s a list of complicated words you should avoid using online if you don’t want to sound pompous.
3. Your headline makes you seem like you’re nothing more than a job title
Your headline could be the most valuable piece of your whole LinkedIn profile. It’s what shows up in search results, and it’s the only information people see on your limited profile. So people will use your headline when deciding whether or not to learn more about you.
And get this: your job title probably isn’t the best use for your headline. It tends to leave people thinking, “So what?”
Solution: Put on your thinking cap and get creative. Use keywords in your headline so people can find you when doing a search. Write your headline like a sentence that describes you, not a job title. Use these examples of really great LinkedIn headlines for inspiration.
4. The information on your profile is a little retro (in a bad way)
LinkedIn tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to social media interaction. When you create a profile on Facebook, you update it often, right? But most of us tend to create a LinkedIn profile, admire it for a moment, then leave it alone.
Your profile is probably getting a little stale. Stale profiles don’t win a lot of business.
Solution: This one is really easy: update your profile. If there’s anything new in your business and professional world, add it to your profile. Keep things fresh and exciting.
5. Your picture belongs in a private Facebook album only friends can see
Have you ever run across a LinkedIn profile sporting one of those I-cropped-my-face-out-of-a-college-reunion-group-photo pictures? Would that be yours?
Taking shortcuts when it comes to your profile picture is a bad idea. Don’t use a group photo, a photo of you and your cat (unless that somehow relates to what you do professionally, but that would be another story) or a duck-face selfie you took in the bathroom mirror. These photos are instant turn-offs in the business world.
Solution: If you want to be taken seriously on LinkedIn (and let’s say the professional world in general), get a quality headshot taken. You don’t even have to pay someone else to do it. If you have smartphone, a tripod (or a competent friend) and a clean background, you can take it yourself.
6. You make it difficult for anyone to contact you with potential opportunities
Inside secret: not everyone loves to send InMail (LinkedIn’s version of a direct message). In fact, InMail is severely rationed in a lot of cases, so unless you give someone a completely irresistible reason to get ahold of you ASAP, most people won’t use up a message on you.
Solution: Add as many contact details as possible to your profile. List your business website, your other social profiles and definitely your email address. That way, you won’t miss out on any potentially valuable business connections just because someone prefers to communicate in a different way.
It’s important for me to confess that I’ve had an embarrassing LinkedIn profile past, too. I’m using the rules listed above to shape it up. I consider it a work in progress.
Do you have any tips to make sure your LinkedIn profile doesn’t stink? Share them in the comments below.
Sonja Jobson is a copywriter and Web content specialist who helps small business owners and entrepreneurs build remarkable companies online. Grab her free, weekly email “to-do” list for some seriously helpful content marketing advice.