Having a strong LinkedIn game is no longer an option.
What we’re witnessing in today’s tough economy is the inevitable rise of social selling.
This trend leverages social media platforms to build connections and establish meaningful relationships with potential business prospects — and when it comes to social selling, LinkedIn is the MVP.
The reality is that the best LinkedIn users are marketing machines. They use the platform as a content distribution system, not a resume builder.
This is your street credibility and personal brand all rolled into one. It’s the first impression you’ll make on prospective employers, clients, partners, or investors — so make it count.
My own LinkedIn experience
I’ve been posting on LinkedIn once a week without fail for six years. Thanks to that hard work and consistency, I’ve established a personal brand grounded in credibility and respect, and grown my follower count to 45,000.
I’ve built real friendships with the best B2B marketers in the world and I’m on a text-message basis with countless founders, CEOs, VPs, and executives.
I’ve earned millions in salary and consulting contracts, 100 percent inbound driven. I’ve been invited to speak on hundreds of podcasts and written for some of the most prestigious websites in business and marketing, like Buffer, HubSpot, Nasdaq, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, NBC, and more.
What’s the true ROI? Thanks to all of the above, I’ll never have to apply for a job again.
Here’s what I’ve avoided:
- I’ve never posted memes, clickbait, or gimmicky stories.
- I’ve never created LinkedIn content with the “goal” of lead generation or immediate-term sales.
- I’ve never used a content calendar or automation tool (although some of them can be useful).
- I’ve never cared about factors like which day of the week is best to post.
Here’s what I’ve done consistently:
- I’ve always prioritized sharing lessons “from the trenches” — real-world learnings directly from my day-to-day experiences as a marketing leader.
- I’ve always written posts using informal, simple, easy language.
- I’ve always made sure to connect with second-degree connections who comment on my posts.
- I’ve always made sure to engage and respond to people who leave comments.
In this article, I’ll dive deeper into tactics for making your profile stand out on the increasingly crowded platform.
LinkedIn profile optimization best practices
Gone are the days when your LinkedIn page was nothing more than a digital resume to try and get job offers — it’s so much more now — and utilizing LinkedIn’s new features will help you get the maximum ROI from the platform.
You need a super compelling profile to enhance your online visibility and gain trust. Here are some top tips for creating a great LinkedIn profile.
1. Choose a unique profile photo and background photo
Your LinkedIn profile picture and background photo are the first visual impressions you make on visitors.
Conventional wisdom says to choose a professional, high-quality, and recent headshot of yourself — but I’d argue you can also pick something that displays your personality even if it’s not super “business–y.”
Take my LinkedIn profile example below, you’ll see my avatar plus Eddie Van Halen cover photo — this is by design, as it reflects the impression I want to share with my network.
Now, keep in mind that I’m a solo consultant and not affiliated with any specific company. If you’re a full-time employee, you may want to consider a banner that is aligned with your company’s corporate branding.
2. Write a catchy headline & LinkedIn summary
Your LinkedIn headline, limited to 220 characters, should succinctly capture who you are as a professional. Incorporate keyword-rich terms that potential employers, clients, or business partners might use to find someone with your skills or work experiences.
For the LinkedIn summary, you can weave a narrative about your professional journey, skills, achievements, and aspirations.
My profile summary explains my origin story as a musician and how that helped shape my career as a marketer.
Another cool example I really like is Tito Bohrt — he stands out with the pseudo, “Sales Mad Scientist” — which demonstrates confidence and a unique identity online.
3. Write a detailed experience section
The ‘Experience’ section of your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. So if you really want to stand out to hiring managers, follow these tips:
- Be specific. Don’t just list your job titles and tactical specialties. Instead, be specific about what you accomplished in each role. What were your key responsibilities? What were your biggest successes?
- Use keywords and bullet points. When you’re writing your experience, be sure to use keywords that are relevant to your industry and the jobs you’re interested in. Using bullet points helps keep things clear and concise.
- Quantify your results. Whenever possible, quantify your results and remove as many buzzwords as possible. This will help you to demonstrate the impact of your work and make you more marketable to potential employers.
4. Add your skills, endorsements, and recommendations
It’s time to buff up that skills section. Include skills that are relevant to your industry and that align with your career goals. And you’ll want to throw in a mix of hard vs soft skills:
Here are some examples of hard skills:
- Coding: The ability to write code in a programming language.
- Graphic design: The ability to create and edit graphics using software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.
- Data analysis: The ability to collect, analyze, and interpret data.
- Customer service: The ability to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful manner.
- Sales: The ability to persuade others to buy a product or service.
Here are some examples of soft skills:
- Communication: The ability to clearly and concisely communicate with others, both verbally and in writing.
- Commitment: What’s something that took a long time to achieve?
- Leadership: The ability to motivate and inspire others to achieve a common goal.
- Adaptability: The ability to adjust to change and new situations.
Regularly updating this section and getting endorsements from colleagues can bolster your credibility.
For example, this is a recommendation I’ve earned from the CMO of Cognism, a top-rated B2B data provider in the market. These types of endorsements are priceless.
5. Showcase licenses and certifications
If you have any licenses or certifications relevant to your profession, be sure to include them. LinkedIn has a dedicated section for these credentials, which increases your credibility and sets you apart from others in your field.
Not sure what to showcase?
If you’re a social media content creator — try this selection of courses from Buffer.
If you’re in B2B marketing — try HubSpot Academy to showcase your skills.
If you’re in B2B sales — SaaS sales training programs are a no-brainer for leveling up.
Take a skills assessment to beef up this section
LinkedIn Skills Assessments are another easy way for jobseekers to stand out. If your work involves the use of highly technical programs or software, these skills assessments are perfect for your job search. When completed, LinkedIn adds a badge to your profile page, signaling to recruiters and hiring managers that you’re proficient in these skills.
LinkedIn currently offers more than 85+ free skills assessments in the following areas:
- Technical skills: Technical skills assessments can be completed for programs like Google Analytics, Python, Ruby on Rails, and more
- Business skills: Business skills assessments can be completed for programs like Google Ads, Microsoft Suite, QuickBooks, and more.
- Design skills: Design skills assessments can be completed for programs like Adobe Suite, Final Cut Pro, InDesign, and more.
Many technical roles require knowledge of specific programming languages or software platforms. Completing these skills tests ahead of time signals to recruiters that you have the technical skills needed for specific jobs. This gives the recruiter more confidence in knowing that your background is the right fit for the job.
6. Engage thoughtfully
This cannot be overstated. The top LinkedIn users regularly share, post, and engage with content that aligns with their professional interests.
Your activity on LinkedIn reflects your knowledge and passion in your field. These engagements can be a rich source of keywords and demonstrate your thought leadership.
Here are some of the best tips for engaging with people on LinkedIn:
- Be authentic. People can spot a fake from a mile away, so be yourself and let your personality shine through in your interactions.
- Be helpful. Offer to help others with their questions and problems, and share your knowledge and expertise.
- Be consistent. Engage with people on a regular basis, and don’t just disappear after you’ve made a connection.
- Comment on their posts. When someone you’re connected to posts something, take a few minutes to read it and leave a thoughtful comment.
- Share other people’s content. If someone you’re connected to has shared valuable content, repost it to your own network.
- Demonstrate business acumen. You need to show potential business partners that you possess intelligent strategic acumen.
- Invite them to connect with you. If you see someone who you think you could benefit from connecting with, send them an invitation.
- Use LinkedIn to network with people in your field. Attend industry events, join relevant LinkedIn groups, and reach out to people you admire.
- Highlight your skills and experience in your profile. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and includes all of your relevant skills and experience.
- Use LinkedIn to research companies. Before you apply for a job, do some research on the company on LinkedIn. This will help you learn more about the company and its culture, and it will also give you some talking points for your interview.
- Use LinkedIn to find potential leads. LinkedIn is a great way to find potential leads who are interested in the products or services you sell.
- Send personalized messages. Send tailored, customized messages. Be human and write conversationally. Avoid being overly corporate or stuffy.
- Don’t be annoying. Be professional. Don’t connect and pitch. Leave deposits before attempting to make withdrawals.
- Use LinkedIn to build your brand. LinkedIn is a great way to build your brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
- Share your content. Share valuable content on LinkedIn, such as blog posts, articles, and videos.
- Engage with your audience. Respond to comments and questions on your content, and participate in conversations on LinkedIn.
- Pro tip: You can also leverage LinkedIn to build a referral marketing program that drives passive lead flow — the gift that keeps on giving.
7. Customize your LinkedIn URL
A small yet essential aspect of profile optimization is customizing your LinkedIn URL.
A customized URL is not only more professional and easier to share, but it also enhances your personal brand.
Here’s how to claim your custom LinkedIn URL:
- Locate and select the ‘Me’ icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
- Click ‘View Profile’ and select ‘Edit Public Profile and URL’
- On the right hand side of the screen, select ‘Edit Custom URL’
- Your current URL will appear like this: www.linkedin.com/in/yourname
- Type your desired new URL in the text box and click ‘Save’
8. Consider enabling ‘Creator Mode’
To expand your reach and visibility, you should consider enabling Creator Mode.
If you’re racking up lots of profile views, this is a no-brainer, since it allows people to browse through all of your top content.
You can ‘feature’ rich multimedia elements such as images, documents, links, videos, and presentations to your summary, education, and experience sections.
This feature enables you to showcase your thought leadership, making the content within your profile section more engaging and dynamic.
9. Include volunteer experience
Volunteer experience often gets overlooked but can be a powerful component of your LinkedIn profile. It demonstrates your commitment to community and social causes, providing a holistic view of your character beyond professional achievements. This can be considered a cause marketing strategy, and can help you stand out in the sea of clutter.
10. Utilize the featured section
The Featured section is a space on your profile where you can showcase work samples, achievements, and publications. You can use this section to highlight your best work, whether it’s a blog post, a project, a certificate, or even a video from a webinar or a speech you’ve delivered.
11. Forget about LinkedIn groups
Being an active member of LinkedIn Groups used to be a valuable way to participate in group discussions and grow your network.
Unfortunately, those days are gone. LinkedIn groups are nothing but spam factories, so you’re better off engaging directly on the Buffer community instead.
12. Follow influencers and top companies
Follow influencers, leaders, and companies in your industry to stay updated with trends and discussions. Engaging with their content shows your enthusiasm for your field and keeps you visible to your professional network.
13. Adjust Your public profile settings
Lastly, ensure your profile settings are adjusted for maximum visibility. Under the Privacy settings, make sure your profile can be seen by everyone, including search engines — this matters quite a lot for personal brand SEO.
Profile optimization is a continuous process. Keep updating and refining your LinkedIn profile as you progress in your career, acquire new skills, and achieve new milestones. Remember, a well-optimized LinkedIn profile isn’t just a static CV, it’s a dynamic, evolving representation of your professional journey.
LinkedIn for job-seeking
LinkedIn has become an essential tool for jobseekers worldwide, even in today’s difficult job market — in case you missed it, Crunchbase reported 150K tech layoffs this year.
With a multitude of features specifically designed to help you connect with potential employers and discover new opportunities, knowing how to effectively utilize the platform is paramount.
14. Optimize your job preferences
LinkedIn allows you to set your job-seeking preferences, including the types of roles you’re interested in, your preferred location, and whether or not you’re open to remote work.
This not only helps LinkedIn’s algorithm to show you the most relevant job postings but also signals to potential employers that you’re actively looking for opportunities.
15. Consider the ‘Open to Work’ feature
Using LinkedIn’s ‘Open to Work’ feature helps recruiters know that you’re actively seeking a new role.
This can be displayed on your profile picture for all to see, or you can choose to only show this to recruiters.
16. Build and nurture your network
Connecting with industry professionals, alumni, and influencers can significantly improve your job-seeking efforts. However, it’s not just about increasing your connection count; meaningful engagement with your network through likes, shares, and comments can foster relationships that could lead to job opportunities.
- Be selective about who you connect with. When you’re adding people to your network, make sure they’re people you actually know or who you’re genuinely interested in connecting with. Don’t just add people for the sake of adding people.
- Send personalized connection requests. When you send a connection request, take the time to write a personalized message explaining why you want to connect. This will show that you’re not just adding people for the sake of adding people, and it will make people more likely to accept your request.
- Engage with your connections. Once you’ve connected with someone, don’t just add them to your network and then forget about them. Engage with them by liking and commenting on their posts, sharing their content, and reaching out to them to ask questions or offer help.
- Attend industry events and meetups. Another great way to meet new people and grow your network is to attend industry events and meetups. This is a great way to meet people who are already working in your field and who can offer you advice and support.
17. Use LinkedIn Job Alerts
LinkedIn’s Job Alerts feature ensures that you get immediate notifications about new job postings that match your preferences. This can give you a head start, allowing you to apply early and increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters.
18. Beware of scams and social engineering
This applies to both employees and job seekers — social engineering threats and job scams are sadly far too common on LinkedIn these days.
From the fake CEO boss text, to the phony recruiter scheme — LinkedIn users should remain vigilant to avoid getting tricked.
19. Craft a personalized connection request
When reaching out to new connections or potential employers, always personalize your connection request. A generic request may be ignored, but a personalized message demonstrates your genuine interest in connecting and can foster a more positive impression.
Here are some tips for writing a personalized connection request:
- Explain why you’re interested in connecting. What do you admire about the person’s work? What do you hope to learn from them?
- Be specific. Don’t just say that you’re interested in connecting. Be specific about why you’re interested in connecting and what you hope to gain from the connection.
- Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read a long, rambling connection request. Keep it short and to the point.
- Use a call to action. Ask the person if they’d be open to connecting, whether that’s over a virtual coffee or knowledge-share.
- Don’t “Connect and Pitch.” Please… just don’t.
Remember, job seeking on LinkedIn is about more than just applying for jobs or trying to pitch your products and services.
It’s about establishing a personal brand, networking with the right people, staying informed about trends in your industry, and demonstrating your passion and expertise. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to make LinkedIn a powerful tool in your job search.
LinkedIn for executives
For entrepreneurs, LinkedIn is more than just a networking platform; it’s a tool for digital marketing, brand-building, recruiting, and even learning. Knowing how to maximize LinkedIn can give your organization a significant boost.
Establish your professional brand
A strong professional brand demonstrates expertise and builds trust with your audience.
To establish this:
- Highlight your skills, experience, testimonials, and accomplishments in your profile.
- Regularly share and publish relevant content that demonstrates your expertise and perspective. This could include blog posts, articles, case studies, or insightful comments on industry trends.
Attract the right audience
LinkedIn provides several tools to help you find the right people:
- Use LinkedIn’s advanced search features to identify potential connections based on various criteria such as industry, job role, and geography.
- Follow influencers, join groups, and participate in discussions in your target industry to discover potential business partners and other ways to collaborate.
Engage with value
Sharing valuable content helps build credibility and initiate meaningful conversations.
- Share industry news, trends, and your own insights to have new interactions.
- Engage with your connections’ posts by liking, commenting on, and sharing their content.
- Use LinkedIn’s insights and updates to personalize your engagement with new connections or potential partners. For instance, congratulate them on a new role or comment on their recent post.
Build meaningful relationships
Building trust and maintaining relationships is essential for LinkedIn success.
- Connect with potential partners by sending personalized connection requests.
- Nurture your relationships with regular check-ins, updates, and sharing of relevant content.
- Have meaningful offline conversations — invite connections to a 1:1 coffee chat.
- Studies have shown that salespeople who build relationships with potential customers are more successful than those who don’t.
- Being genuine during the sales process is said to be one of the most important parts of modern selling strategies.
20. Empower employees to amplify your brand
Companies should do a better job training their teams to be successful on LinkedIn, but they often fail.
This goes beyond LinkedIn profile badges and certifications — it’s about investing in the success of everyone at the company.
Here are some ways companies can do a better job preparing their teams for LinkedIn:
- Understand the algorithm — LinkedIn just updated its algorithm to prioritize real-world expertise and practical advice from experts.
- Use training software — Corporate learning platforms can really make a huge difference in helping employees reach their full potential, by realizing what to do (and what not to do) to help promote the company online.
- Empower your partners and affiliates — Most in-house enablement collateral is a sloppy, disorganized mess. A member training system can help transform your partners and affiliates into an army of marketers for your brand on LinkedIn.
- Watch tutorials — There are tons of great YouTube tutorials that can give you inspiration for better marketing on LinkedIn.
21. Tell the founder story
As the founder, you are quite literally the face of your business.
A strong personal brand can lend credibility to your company and attract potential partners, customers, and investors.
Highlight your expertise, passion, and the vision behind your startup in your headline, summary, and experience sections.
Founders should also strive to be visionary and tell the company’s origin story. Videos can be clipped and repurposed across LinkedIn and other social media platforms,
Liquid Death, while gimmicky, may be the best example of this I’ve ever seen.
22. Showcase your thought leadership
Thought leadership is about becoming an authority in your field, someone others look to for insights, expertise, and guidance.
For entrepreneurs and CEOs, flexing your area of expertise on LinkedIn can build credibility, attract potential customers or investors, and open doors to new opportunities.
Here’s how to showcase your thought leadership on LinkedIn:
- Write blog posts and articles. Some people say publishing LinkedIn Articles is a dying art form — but I believe they can still be valuable. For example, when I joined Aura as their VP of Growth, I wrote an article called Why I’m Joining Aura, which earned tons of engagement.
- Record and share videos. Videos are a great way to share your expertise and insights in a more personal and engaging way. In fact, LinkedIn videos receive five times more comments than other LinkedIn post types. Videos with closed captions are the most effective because they allow viewers to understand your video with their sound off. When recording videos, be sure to speak clearly and concisely.
- Host podcasts and workshops. Podcasts and workshops are a great way to share your expertise with a large group of people. When hosting a podcast or workshop, be sure to promote it to your LinkedIn network and send texts or DMs to get people sharing.
- Become a speaker at industry events. Speaking at industry events is a great way to share your expertise with a large audience and to build your personal brand. When speaking at an event, be sure to prepare your presentation in advance and practice it several times.
- Contribute to industry publications. Contributing to industry publications is a great way to share your expertise with a wider audience. For example, if you’re an advertising executive, contributing to AdWeek or Forbes could bode well for your personal brand.
- Connect with other thought leaders. Building relationships with other thought leaders is a great way to share your expertise and to learn from others. When building relationships with other thought leaders, be sure to reach out to them and introduce yourself. You should also follow them on LinkedIn and engage with their content.
23. Leverage LinkedIn for hiring
LinkedIn can be a powerful recruiting tool. Posting jobs on LinkedIn can help you find qualified candidates. You can also use the platform’s search functions and LinkedIn Recruiter tools to proactively find and reach out to potential candidates.
Build a strong company page
Beyond your personal profile, a compelling company page is essential. It’s where you can showcase your products or services, share updates, and post job openings. Make sure your page has a high-quality logo and banner image, a compelling ‘About’ section, and regular updates about your company.
- Regularly update your page with news, achievements, and insights about your company. This helps create an active, engaging presence that can attract potential candidates.
- Showcase your company culture. Upload pictures from team events, highlight employee achievements, and share posts that give a glimpse into your work environment.
Post detailed job listings
LinkedIn offers a feature-rich job posting platform where you can list open positions.
- Make your job descriptions clear and engaging. Detail the role responsibilities, desired skills and qualifications, and what the candidate can expect from working with your company.
- Leverage LinkedIn targeting to reach relevant candidates. You can target based on location, job function, industry, and more.
Use LinkedIn recruiter
LinkedIn Recruiter is a premium tool specifically designed to help hiring managers and recruiters find, connect with, and manage potential candidates.
- Use advanced search filters to identify suitable candidates. You can filter by skills, experience, location, industry, and more.
- For example, if you are trying to hire sales reps — you can filter by experience levels such as seniority, company size and annual revenue to find qualified candidates who align with the job requirements.
- Reach out to potential candidates directly using InMail, even if they’re not in your network.
- You can also send them connection requests and keep in touch with them, so that in the future they will see your posts and engage with your content.
Leverage your network
Your own network and your employees’ networks can be valuable sources of potential candidates.
- Encourage your employees to share job openings with their networks. Employee referrals often result in high-quality candidates.
- Share job openings on your own profile and ask your connections to spread the word.
Engage with potential candidates
Simply posting a job and waiting for applications is a passive approach. Actively engage with potential candidates to increase your chances of finding the right fit.
- Engage with people who comment on your job postings. Answer any questions they have and thank them for their interest.
- Keep an eye on people who regularly engage with your company page. They already have an interest in your company and could be potential candidates.
Showcase your employer brand
Employer branding is about showcasing what it’s like to work at your company. A strong employer brand can make top talent want to work for you.
- Share content that showcases your company culture, values, and work environment.
- Encourage your employees to share their experiences and to engage with your company posts.
- Highlight benefits, professional development opportunities, and unique aspects of your company culture.
Be responsive and communicative
Good communication can significantly enhance candidate experience.
- Respond promptly to inquiries about job listings.
- If a candidate reaches out directly, take the time to engage with them, even if they might not be the right fit for current openings.
- After interviews, let candidates know the next steps and timelines. If they didn’t get the job, a kind rejection can leave a positive impression and keep the door open for future opportunities.
If all else fails with recruiting leaders for your startup, you can always try an executive recruiting firm to accelerate the process and land your dream candidate.
Navigate LinkedIn with confidence
Whether you’re growing in your current job, hunting for a new job, closing a major sales deal, or hustling to scale your startup — LinkedIn offers a multitude of features and resources to help you achieve your career goals.
Remember, the key to success on LinkedIn lies in consistent, meaningful engagement. It took me over five years to earn 45,000 followers. With dedication, you can do it too.