As a sales professional, your LinkedIn profile is often your first point of contact with recruiters and hiring managers, but did you know it may also be your first introduction to clients, customers and business partners? Before meeting face-to-face or even hopping on a quick call, these professionals are going to look you up on LinkedIn to determine whether you’re worth contacting for a potential deal or new job offer. As the saying goes, first impressions last, so make sure your LinkedIn profile packs a punch.

Here’s how to take your profile from generic to stand out:

  1. Use a professional headshot.
    Your LinkedIn profile picture sets the tone for your entire profile. Unflattering light, a distracting background or casual attire sends a message that you don’t take your role seriously– and can negate your otherwise impressive professional accomplishments. If you’re not able to invest in a professional headshot, you can certainly take your own at home. Just be sure to use diffused natural light rather than a flash or direct sunlight, wear a jacket or collared shirt, and choose a solid colored background, like a neutral wall.
  2. Treat your summary like an elevator pitch.
    I like to think of the summary space below your photo as your 60-second elevator pitch. Keep it succinct and punchy, highlight your unique value add, and save specific job duties for the experience section. Sharing too many specifics about your main role could pigeon hole yourself into a niche area, even if your skills apply to a broad range of job functions. For example, instead of “CRM and email marketing manager with expertise in SEO and CRO,” I recommend “Digital Marketing Manager.”
  3. Include context for past companies and job titles in the “Experience” section.
    One of the most common LinkedIn mistakes I see sales professionals make is only listing job titles and company names without any extra details. This is a missed opportunity to make sure that your experience really lands. Even if you’ve worked for major Fortune 500 companies, you can’t assume everyone who views your profile will be an expert in your industry or familiar with a company’s size and functions. Add a simple line that explains what the company does, such as “$1 billion B2B healthcare technology company.” If your job title is more obscure, explain your responsibilities in layman’s terms.
  4. Quantify your accomplishments.
    Most sales professionals can hold down a job and carry out the responsibilities of their role well. To stand out from the crowd, you need to highlight specific instances where your actions have resulted in significant, quantifiable business results. For example, “top salesperson in division,” doesn’t provide much context for your success. How many people were in your division? How quickly did you meet your goals? By how much did you exceed them? A better option would be to write, “Top salesman out of 50 in my division with 120% attainment of sales goals in 2017.” Instead of “Led the field sales division,” try “Grew revenue in the field sales division by 20% and gained 1% market share year-on-year.”
  5. Include recommendations.
    Employee referrals remain the top source for new hires, with demonstrated record of improving hire quality and retention rates. There’s nothing more powerful and reassuring to a prospective employer than an endorsement from someone who can vouch for your work. The same goes for potential sales partners– referrals build trust and confidence that you can execute a deal. On your LinkedIn page, you can replicate this effect by including recommendations from co-workers, managers, and clients.When asking for recommendations, request your recommender include specific details and, when appropriate, quantify any accomplishments you achieved together. For example, “Ben helped us create a great email marketing program” is pretty generic. We don’t know why the program was great or what it accomplished. A better option would be, “Ben led our efforts to build our first-ever email referral marketing program, increasing lead generation by 80% over a six month period and leading to more than $500K in new sales. The consummate professional, Ben’s positive attitude helped keep the entire team motivated.”

 

As LinkedIn becomes ground zero for lead generation and sales prospecting, optimizing your profile is essential to not only landing your next job but also your next client or deal. What strategies do you use to optimize your LinkedIn profile? I invite you to share your tips in the comments below.


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