Your LinkedIn summary is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile. It needs to convince a potential connection to continue onto your experience, education, and other qualifications.
And if it doesn’t catch their interest right away, they’re going to leave. So your summary needs to be really effective in selling you to potential employers of clients.
But don’t panic, as we’re here to help. What follows is some simple advice to help you write a LinkedIn summary to sell yourself to potential employers and clients.
1. Remember That It’s Not About You
It’s a bit counterintuitive, but your LinkedIn summary isn’t about you. It’s about the person reading it. Many people treat this part of their profile as a biography, but this is one of the most important tips for an effective summary: write it as a sales pitch.
What problems will you solve for a potential employer or connection? What pain points will you address? How will their life (and company) be better after hiring you?
These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer in your summary for it to be effective. And you’ll want to answer them quickly, because your summary will be collapsed so that only the first sentence or two is visible:
Keep this in mind while you’re writing your summary. It should be immediately clear to any reader what value you’re offering. They’re not thinking about you—they’re thinking about themselves. So keep your focus entirely on their needs.
2. Identify Your Audience
Who will be reading your LinkedIn summary? Who do you want to reach out to you? What kind of job are you searching for? And what kind of person do you want to connect with?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out what to write. There are a lot of people on LinkedIn, and they’re all looking for different things.
A recruiter, for example, might be interested in experience that you’ve had at big-name companies. A startup founder might be more interested to know that you’re looking to help build a company from the ground up.
The narrower your focus, the easier the process (and the more effective your summary) will be.
3. Start With a List
There are elements that you should definitely include in your summary, and collecting these things beforehand will make writing it much easier. Here are a few things that you’ll want to mention:
- Your most significant professional accomplishments
- What makes you stand out from others in your field
- A quote or testimonial from a past employer
- Something authentic about your personality
- Keywords based on the position you want
If you can get all of that into your LinkedIn summary in three or four short paragraphs, and include a few more things to make yourself stand out, you’ll have hooked your readers right away.
4. Craft a Few Paragraphs
I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, and one thing that I’ve seen a lot of lately is very long summaries. Your LinkedIn summary should be just that: a summary.
You don’t need to go on at length about all of your qualifications and accomplishments. That’s what the Experience section of your profile is for.
The point of your summary is to get someone interested enough that they’ll check out the rest of your profile and—if they want to work with you—connect or get in touch. Keep it short. Some people even turn their summaries into a list to make it easy to read:
5. Check Your Keywords
This is an important step, but it’s also easy to get wrong. A secondary purpose of your LinkedIn summary is to help people find you when they’re searching for specific keywords.
For example, if you’re a sales manager, you might try to include the following keywords:
- Sales management
- Demand generation
- Account management
- Relationship management
- Sales forecasting
- Business development
Of course, this will vary depending on your audience and goals. Think of the searches you want to appear in, then make sure you have those keywords in your profile.
Just don’t overdo it!
Many people put tons of keywords in their summaries and it ends up being a jargon-filled mess. It’s actually more important from a search-engine perspective to have the terms listed in your experience. You can put them in your summary, but make sure not to over-stuff it. You aren’t fooling anyone, and keyword-heavy summaries are obvious from a mile away.
You should include some of your keywords in your summary, but put a stronger emphasis on putting them in your experience entries.
6. Get Feedback
Once you think you’ve created an awesome LinkedIn summary, you’ll be tempted to post it right away. But don’t forget this last step. It’s important to get feedback from two people: one in your field and one outside of it.
The person in your field can tell you if your summary is appealing enough to catch the eye of someone who’s heard a lot of that same information before. The person who doesn’t have experience in your area can tell you if it flows well and piques their interest. If both people give you positive feedback, your new summary is probably ready to post!
What About LinkedIn Summary Templates?
In general, it’s best to avoid using templates for your LinkedIn summary. It might save you some time, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a summary template that fits your personality and doesn’t sound canned. It’s just not likely to happen.
There’s no harm in looking at other people’s LinkedIn summaries for inspiration. Just remember that your summary exists to tell people what’s unique about you. So drawing too heavily from someone else’s template might backfire.
Keep Updating Your LinkedIn Summary
As your professional situation changes, so should your LinkedIn summary. If you’re looking for a job, your summary will be different than if you’re just looking to grow your network.
Make sure to check on your profile often to make sure that your summary is still applicable.
And don’t neglect the rest of your profile! Your LinkedIn background photo, personal photo, experience, and media samples are all important, too. And be sure to check out these lesser-known LinkedIn features.