Entrepreneur Educator, Program Developer, Facilitator

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Tune Your Linkedin Profile To Create Opportunities

Most of us don’t have direct lines to the c-suite, wealthy investors, and powerful people. Which means if we want to shoot our shot, we have to go through gatekeepers. These gatekeepers—whether it’s a chief of staff, an admin, a junior employee reviewing their company’s “contact us” form—are going to scan your Linkedin to see if you are legit before they grant you access.

Of course you’re legit, you think.

None of us see ourselves without bias. Whether it’s Dunning Kruger or its opposite—Impostor Syndrome—humans are terrible at self-evaluation. A telescope can’t look at itself. You can’t read the label on the medicine bottle from inside the bottle.

Ergo, something amazing happens when you get others to give you real-time feedback on your Linkedin profile. And that’s exactly what I did last week with a group of executive education MBA candidates visiting from ESCP, a European business school with campuses in London, Berlin, Madrid, Turin, Warsaw, and Beirut.

I spent the week with Exec Ed MBA students from ESCP, one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools. This group was visiting UT Austin and asked me to lead a few sessions on innovation and leadership communications.

One by one, I projected their profiles on the big screen and the entire cohort shared their reactions. This exercise offers a glimpse into what others think and feel when they take stock of you. They will likely offer good suggestions. But if their suggestions are bad, that’s fine: simply gauging their reactions (Do they smile? Do their eyes glaze over? Do they furrow their brow in confusion) is telling.

The most important question

There is a killer question that turns this exercise from good to great: sharing what “winning” is for you. What reaction do you want others to have when they look at your profile? Are you trying to appear credible to an investor? Are you trying to attract new work opportunities? Are you trying to come across as a subject matter expert? Are you wanting your colleagues to know you are ready for projects beyond the scope of your job title?

A startup founder raising capital needs a different profile than an aspiring career switcher. Stating your definition of winning will guide feedback and make this exercise relevant to you; otherwise you might as well follow the advice from a generic “10 tips for a great Linkedin profile” blog post.

The exercise I ran involved 140 people and a projector with a giant screen. But you don’t need any of that. You can do this with three friends on Zoom.

Who to ask for feedback

Enlist friends who will give you constructive feedback—this isn’t the time for stroking your ego. It never hurts to get a perspective from someone outside of your industry—this prevents your Linkedin from only resonating to insiders, not to mention people in your field might see you as competition. And don’t ask your friend who smokes weed on the couch all day.

Remember: This process is not meant to uncover typos. The goal is to ensure that your profile tells the story you want it to tell to resonate with a particular audience.

When I displayed my profile, it hadn’t even occurred to me that the audience facing away was confusing. But several of them got hung up on that detail…
…so I added a gradient.

Get feedback and go further

So that’s it. Show your Linkedin to a few people. Their honest reactions will help you create a profile that brings good things your way.

If you want some tips before you do that, here’s a few suggestions:

Ask yourself: What is “winning”? What reaction do you want people to have? Do you want them to hire you? Buy from you? Confirm you’re the right person for the promotion? Trust your expertise? Design the profile accordingly.

Use a header image—it’s an enormous part of the screen real estate and represents an opportunity to highlight your skills and background.

The Linkedin banner is important real estate; don’t waste it

Fill up the frame with your face in your profile pic so people can recognize it’s you (ideally so people can recognize when they see it in smaller formats).

Be clear about what you do—if attention is a scarce resource, eliminate any guesswork the audience has to do to understand you and your value.

What does “contumacy” even mean?

Avoid excessive photo filters and face-tuning—trust and authenticity is the goal here, not photo-manipulated influencer or “is this a bot?” vibes.

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Thanks to early readers: Anna Archakova, Joe Randel