In the days when you were job hunting, did you ever send in just your resume as your application, with no cover letter? Or now as a business owner, would you respond to a potential customer with an email that only included a link to your website, with no introduction or verbiage?
Of course not! You always provide a cover letter, or give someone a description of your services, if you hope to get that person to consider working with you. It is your chance to make a great first impression and you don’t want to squander that opportunity.
The LinkedIn version of this proper introduction is called your summary, and more than 50% of professionals on LinkedIn have not created one! And before you panic, it’s okay if you don’t have one right now, because you probably didn’t understand the importance, so today we are going to create a creative and compelling summary for your profile!
Your summary provides a great opportunity to tell us your story. Without a summary, your profile reads like a boring resume and we have no idea how exactly you can help us. You are definitely more than the facts and figures of your past on a piece of paper (or computer screen). Also, your summary should not be a simple cut and paste of the “about us” page from your website. It should be tailored to this LinkedIn audience to capture our attention and compel us to contact you.
You could also consider your summary as a 30-second “elevator pitch” to keep it focused and short. What can you tell me in 30 seconds that would compel me to learn more about how to work with you? You are allowed 2000 characters here, but I wouldn’t suggest writing that long, since most people don’t want to read your whole life story! To give you an idea, my current summary is about 1100 characters (see lower in this post). There should be just enough information to get their attention and make them hungry to learn more.
Here are a few key points as you write your summary:
- Include your keywords (multiple times is fine)
- Make it original and memorable (make me care!)
- Write in the first person (like you would talk to me – “I am…” not “John is…”)
- Speak to your target market (show how you can make their life better)
- Include a “call to action” at the end (what do you want people to do next? Call me, email me, visit my website, etc)
Some of you may work in industries where it seems difficult to write a creative and compelling summary, so I’d like to share this example from the Vice President of a large corporate bank. Does this person sound like a boring and stuffy corporate banker that you’d hate to work with?
I think that is a great example of telling your story, helping me understand who you are, how you can help me, and why I should let you help me. This summary also follows my general guideline of writing 4-5 paragraphs, using this simple structure:
- Who you are
- Who you serve
- How you help them
- Why would they want to engage with you
- Call to action (so I don’t have to hunt down your contact info if I’m ready to hire you!)
Believe it or not, I’m still working on perfecting my summary too (!) as my target market is changing right now. In fact, just doing this exercise has motivated me to get it done ASAP! But for now, here’s a breakdown of these five guidelines and how I’ve employed them (my keywords are highlighted):
In summary (see what I did there?!) telling your story in a memorable, compelling and brief fashion is infinitely helpful in attracting your ideal clients.. Your summary is one of the two most important areas of your profile, and makes a strong first impression of you and your business. Take some time today to revise your current summary, or to finally create a summary, and get yourself in the “right” 50% of professionals on LinkedIn!