Thanks to social media, your prospective clients are meeting you before you ever shake their hands.

Growing up, you probably heard your parents or grandparents say, “You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.” And this holds true for LinkedIn today as well.

Unlike 15-20 years ago, today you probably won’t need to be present to make that first impression. If you don’t believe me, try Googling yourself. The very first result 9 out of 10 times will be your LinkedIn profile (thanks to LinkedIn’s SEO efforts). So this means your prospective clients are meeting you before you ever shake their hands and see the whites of their eyes. Hence why it is more important than ever before that your LinkedIn profile makes a lasting first impression.

So, let’s take your LinkedIn profile from résumé to reputation:

1. #NoSelfies:

The first thing people look at on your LinkedIn profile is your photo. You are 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a professional headshot. Remember, this is your reputation and you want to appear professional. So have a current headshot and one that represents who you are professionally. Your headshot can be professional without being overly corporate.

2. Develop a professional tagline:

Ask yourself how would you introduce yourself to a person you’ve never met before if they asked you, “What do you do for a living?” You probably wouldn’t say, “I’m a financial professional,” unless you want to end the conversation quickly.

Instead, you probably explain what you actually do. Think of your tagline as your mission statement. For example: “Educating my clients to make informed financial decisions around their financial goals”

3. LinkedIn summary = elevator talk

Your LinkedIn summary is best thought of as your 30-second elevator pitch. Use your summary to quickly provide a high level overview of the type of work you do without all of the details. Now is not the time to make your sales pitch; now is the time to provide your value proposition.

4. Add humanity to your summary:

Once you provide your value proposition, you have a chance to make a real connection with your prospects by showing your human side. Ask yourself, “Are my best clients more or less like me?” Your answer is probably more like you.

The reason they are more like you is that you share common interests or similar values. What do you care about? Are you passionate about your alma mater’s sports team? Are you active in your community? Do you volunteer?

5. Have a call to action:

Wrap up your LinkedIn summary by making it easy for other LinkedIn members to find your contact information by adding it to the end of your summary.

For example: “If you want to learn how I can help you achieve financial balance, let’s grab a coffee. Give me a call at 555-555-5555 or email at jsmith@example.com.”

Keep these final things in mind:

  • Know your audience – drop the industry jargon

  • Write in the first person – write like you speak (don’t use the third person)

  • Keep it short – aim for a LinkedIn summary of no more than two to three paragraphs

Use these tips to go from résumé to reputation on LinkedIn. Just remember to stay within your company’s compliance guidelines for making updates to your LinkedIn profile. 

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