LinkedIn is the professional networking place for most entrepreneurs. Most business owners and executives know that they should have a strong digital footprint. But, are you making the most of your LinkedIn profile? Use this ultimate guide to walk through a step-by-step guide to building your best LinkedIn profile as an entrepreneur.

Contact Details

You have a LinkedIn profile so that people can connect with you as an entrepreneur and to grow your business. Make sure that you have all of the right contact details in your profile and to make sure that they are visible to the right people.  To do this the right way, consider the following:

  • Update your email. Seems obvious, most people forget to update their email over the years.
  • Include your phone. Add your office and/or direct line to your profile.
  • Add your website. Include the website for your company as the website for your profile. Do this in the contact details of your profile.
  • Make your profile searchable by email or phone. You can do this in the "Settings & Privacy" section of LinkedIn.
  • Use your business contact details. Don't forget to add your current business contact information in your profile - particularly if your profile is searchable by this information.
  • Incorporate the information in your summary. Want people to reach out to you on LinkedIn? Then make sure you make the right contact information public so that people who aren't connected with you can find it and reach out.

Profile Photo

Studies show that profiles with a photo have 14x the engagement of the counterparts without a profile photo. A strong headshot will visualize your entrepreneurial brand on LinkedIn.

  • Make sure your photo looks professional. A good photo should be in color, have a clear background, and show your head and shoulders (or full body if you're a solopreneur).
  • No selfies! LinkedIn is not the place for selfies.
  • Be recognizable. Your profile photo should be of you so that people can easily identify you when they see your profile.
  • Make sure your photo is recent. Keep the image to something taken in the last year or 2. Make sure to update the image every couple of years.
  • Use the right aspect ratio. Your LinkedIn profile photo should be square so it looks good when cropped (the standard size for LinkedIn photos is 400x400
  • Avoid using wedding or other personal photos. These images are obvious when looked at. And, they typically aren't professional-looking. Save the wedding or event photos for another time and get a professional headshot.
  • Stay on brand. Take an image that is consistent with your personal brand, industry, and your company.
  • Use the image across all platforms. Keep a consistent entrepreneurial brand by using the same headshot across all social media and websites.

Background/Cover Photo

LinkedIn has the ability to add a cover photo for your profile page. This is the rectangle above your profile photo. Use this opportunity to create a visual cue about you as an entrepreneur. Remember, people are skimming your profile, so you need to pick a strong image to catch their attention right away. Things to think about when selecting the right image for your entrepreneur background photo:

  • Avoid the presets. LinkedIn now includes some preset images to add an image to your background. You can't stand out if you use the same thing that everyone else has access to.
  • Use a branded image. Be the best advocate for your brands and companies. Use the photo from the LinkedIn company page here to show brand loyalty.
  • The image follows you. Make sure the image works across the system. This means avoiding images with a lot of text. Simple, clean, images work best.
  • Pick the right dimensions. The right dimensions for the background photo are 1128 x 191.
  • Use a high-resolution image. Avoid blurry images and pick something that looks high quality on your LinkedIn profile.

Summary

Your summary is one of the most important sections of your LinkedIn profile. This is where you can really make an impression on people and showcase your skills and experience as an entrepreneur. Make sure that it is well written, keyword-rich, and showcases what you have to offer as an entrepreneur. Do the following to build a strong Summary section for your LinkedIn profile:

  • Maximize the real estate. This is your elevator pitch to grab the attention of people skimming your LinkedIn profile. Tell the whole story here in a way that connects the dots across your career.
  • Make your point right away. The first few lines are most important on your LinkedIn summary section because the rest will be hidden by the "See more" option that consolidates the longer sections. Make your point right away or people will never click on the "see more."
  • Drop-off is huge after this spot. People get bored quickly and move on without really digging into your LinkedIn profile. If you don't get their interest in the summary section, they won't bother to scroll down.
  • Use a variety of writing styles. Include a variety of paragraphs and bullets in your About section. This will enable you to convey a variety of concepts in your entrepreneurial brand as well as to grab the attention of people skimming quickly.
  • Include capabilities, products, or services. Tell people who you are as an entrepreneur and tell them what you can do for them in your summary section. This invites them to reach out and engage you or your company for help.
  • Consider including your contact details here. Want people on LinkedIn to contact you? Make it easy for them by including your phone or work email right in your LinkedIn summary.

This section is right below the summary section. Make sure to add it to your entrepreneur LinkedIn profile because it allows you to add videos, pdfs, and jpegs in the top spots on your profile. Showcase the works of your company and its success stories here.  This is a great way to add credibility to your profile and to show people what you can do. Things to think about when picking the right content to add to your Featured section:

  • Videos are Best. Video is consistently the most engaging content. Use videos here to provide an explanation of what your companies do, what you do, success stories, results, etc. You will drop a link here to wherever the video is hosted so that it can embed right on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Select a Variety of Works. Be strategic in building out your entrepreneurial brand to make sure that you have a variety of images or videos in your Featured section. This means the types of content and how it conveys the message you want. Use a mixture of video, jpeg, and pdf here.
  • Add Descriptions. The content you decide to add to your Featured section should have a text description with it. Communicate the message that you want to tell people about the media in your featured section in the description box.
  • Showcase Versatility. Make sure that you are selecting content for your Featured section that will reflect the depth and versatility of your entrepreneurial brand. This can be in who you serve, what your company does, product lines, businesses, etc.
  • Remember Your Audience. Depending on your business, there may be some people that will always connect with you on LinkedIn but others that are found on different social media platforms. Account for this audience when selecting the content for your Featured section.

Professional Experience

Your experience section is one of the most important sections on your LinkedIn entrepreneur profile. This is where you list all of your past positions and experiences as an entrepreneur. Make sure that it is well written, keyword-rich, and showcases your successes. To do this as effectively as possible, consider the following when adding each of your professional experiences:

  • Start with Impact. The first few sentences matter because the rest of it can be hidden behind the "See More" cue. Make sure your first sentence says exactly what you do and what the company does to get attention quickly.
  • Each Entry Matters. It's tempting to leave off the older roles or your time as an employee. But, these entries show your full professional history. Keep them on your profile, but be smart about how (or if) you explain that experience.
  • Bullets Work Best. Make sure to use bullets to draw attention to your results in the roles or of the company in these entries.
  • Include Keywords. Make sure that you include keywords in your professional experience section as well as throughout your entrepreneur LinkedIn profile so that you can be found by people who are looking for your services.
  • Quantify Results. Whenever possible, include numbers in your professional experience section to show the impact that you had in previous roles. This will help to legitimize your experience and showcase your successes.
  • Use the Drop-Downs. This is important to ensure that people can find you on LinkedIn. Make sure that you are using them when selecting your title and the company for each entry in your professional experience.

Media

Each professional experience entry can also include media in addition to the text that explains it. This is a great way to incorporate additional videos, jpegs, or pdf to your entrepreneur's LinkedIn profile. The same insights as outlined above in the Featured section apply. But, the real difference is that the content you pick for the roles should be specific to the particular role or company.

The items that you add to the professional experience section aren't the absolute best works. Instead, they are the ones that are relevant to people scrolling through your career history that want to know more. So, don't repeat materials here. But, be smart about adding a richer depth of content for people to engage with your company or prior experiences.

Skills

This section on your LinkedIn profile matters a lot, for different reasons. This section will integrate into various databases outside of LinkedIn including CRM's and ATS. It also contains a number of search terms that people will look for when trying to find someone or a company that can help solve their challenges. So, maximize this space for your goals as an entrepreneur.  To do this, make sure to:

  • Use all 50. Everyone has a max of 50 skills in this section on your LinkedIn profile. Don't sell yourself short. Pick the 50 skills.
  • Select from drop-downs. The skills won't be searchable by others unless you are using the ones in the LinkedIn database. Make sure you are picking the ones from the drop-downs and not free-typing here.
  • Pick a cross-section of skills. Use a cross-section of soft, substantive, and specialty skills to complete your LinkedIn skills section.
  • Focus on your current goals. Keep the list of skills relevant to your current goals as an entrepreneur.
  • Review periodically. Update this list regularly and remove the skills that are no longer relevant to your goals as an entrepreneur.

Education

Your education section is important for any LinkedIn profile, but it is especially important for entrepreneurs. Your education should show that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to start and grow a  business.  To make sure that this section is working best for you, include:

  • Add Entries for Each Degree. Have more than 1 degree? Make sure to include separate entries on your LinkedIn profile for each degree that you obtained.
  • Include Entries for Partial Degrees. Didn't complete your degree? That's ok, but you should still include that information on your LinkedIn profile. It will broaden up your network and show people what you did do. Make sure to include a note in the description of how much you completed so that you don't mislead anyone.
  • Keep this Section to Degrees. There's a separate section for courses, so the education section should be limited to your degree programs.
  • Use the Drop-Downs. Make sure to use the drop-downs for each field in the education entries. This will maximize your visibility.
  • Complete Each Field. Thoroughly enter each item on your LinkedIn profile to make the most of your education as long as it is relevant to your current message as an entrepreneur.
  • Remove the Years. At a certain point, the year that you went to school or that you graduated will no longer matter. Consider removing the completion year after 10 years.

Licenses/Certifications

This is the section of your LinkedIn profile where you add any licenses or certifications that are relevant to your entrepreneur message. Add this section to your LinkedIn profile and consider the following to make sure that this section is working best for you:

  • Include All Relevant Licenses and Certifications. Don't leave any out!
  • List the License or Certification Type First. This will be helpful for people skimming through your profile to see what licenses or certifications you have quickly.
  • Use the Drop-downs. Select from the drop-downs when completing this field. Make sure to use the options that are closest to the actual certifications or licenses.
  • Include Company Licenses / Certifications Here. As an entrepreneur, you are the best advocate for your business. Include those licenses or certifications for your business here if you played a big role in obtaining them and if they are relevant to your personal brand as an entrepreneur.

Awards

This is a great way to show off some of your non-professional accomplishments as an entrepreneur. Adding this section to your profile enables people to search for you based on those awards. This can be important to establish credibility as an entrepreneur and with potential or existing customers. So, consider the following when adding this section to your LinkedIn profile:

  • Use the Actual Award Name. Tell people exactly what you won in the title field.
  • Include the Year Won. This will help people quickly see when you won the award.
  • Link to the Organization. Type in the name of the organization that gave the award so people can see where it came from. Sometimes, the name of the organization giving the award can matter as much as the receipt of the award.
  • Consider Including Nominations. You may not have won, but the fact that you or your company was nominated can matter as much. Make sure to reference the fact that you were nominated rather than awarded the recognition in the description section.
  • Include a Short Description of the Award. This will give people more information about why you received this particular award and what it means to you.
  • Company or Product Awards. Include relevant awards of your company, its products, or its other recognitions on your profile when they help build your message as an entrepreneur.

Interests

This section shows all the companies and schools that you follow. The posts by these companies or schools will show up in your LinkedIn feed. The content in this section is also visible to everyone who scrolls all the way to the bottom of your profile. It is a dynamic feed, so not everyone will see the same thing on your profile. But, if they click "See All" then they can see the full list of your Interests. Consider the following to make sure that the Interests section on your profile stays on-brand with your current message as an entrepreneur:

  • Clean it Up. Remove any old interests from your LinkedIn profile.
  • Keep Interests that are Actually Useful/Interesting. Pick companies, schools, or groups that are actually of interest to you now.
  • Unfollow your Competitors. Savvy clients could use that information to find your competitors.
  • Careful in Following Your Clients. Your competitors could see that and use this section against you to try to gain that business. Don't make it that easy.
  • Reflect Variety. Showcase a deep knowledge of your industry and interests by following a variety of companies and associations that people would expect. Stay on the brand in showcasing that variety.

Groups

This section shows up in your Interests section. Make sure to build out your entrepreneur brand on LinkedIn by joining relevant groups. Remember, everyone can see these groups that you are a member of if they scroll through your interests. So, pick strategically. And, use the groups function on LinkedIn to strategically grow your brand and network.

Consider joining and engaging in groups on LinkedIn that advance those interests. Do that by engaging with people in the groups and contributing to the conversations in those communities. This thought leadership approach will have a much bigger impact on your goals as an entrepreneur for the long term.

Contacts - to Mask or Not

As an entrepreneur, you may have connected with many of your clients on LinkedIn. You can opt to hide that list of contacts from your other contacts.  Or, you can choose to show your list of contacts. If you decide to hide it, people will not be able to see the names of your clients that are connected with you on LinkedIn.

If you choose to show it, then all of your LinkedIn connections can see the names of your clients that are connected with you on LinkedIn. That's a lot of people who can see that information!

Your decision on whether to show or hide your list of clients will depend on what you are trying to accomplish with LinkedIn. If you want to grow your entrepreneur brand, then it might be better to showcase those connections. But, if you're more focused on growing business opportunities, then hiding that information may be the better option.

Network, Network, Network

Building a strong LinkedIn profile as an entrepreneur is just the start. Now, you should put that profile to work for you by networking with professionals on the platform.  The more you network, the more chances you have of finding opportunities that are a fit for you and your business.

Building a strong LinkedIn profile as an entrepreneur is just the start. Now, you should put that profile to work for you by networking with professionals on the platform.  The more you network, the more chances you have of finding opportunities that are a fit for you and your business.

When networking on LinkedIn, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reach Out. If you see someone who is a good fit for what you're looking for, don't be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Start by Connecting. When you connect with someone, you have the opportunity to send a message that introduces yourself and your business.
  • Take Advantage of LinkedIn Groups. Join groups where your target market is active and start networking with people there.
  • Look for Opportunities in Your LinkedIn Feed. The opportunities that show up in your LinkedIn feed are curated for you based on your profile. So, make sure to check it regularly.
  • Use InMail. If you want to reach out to someone who is not a connection, use InMail.
  • Get Personal with Your Messages. When you reach out to someone, make sure to personalize the message.
  • Be Patient. Don't expect to get a response from everyone you reach out to. Some people may be too busy, and some may not be interested in what you have to offer.
  • Don't Give Up. Keep networking until you find the right opportunity for you and your business.

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs. It's a great way to show your credibility as an expert in your field, and it can help you build relationships with potential clients or partners. Use this checklist to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is entrepreneur-friendly and helps you reach your goals.


Seem like a lot? It can be. Have one of our expert LinkedIn profile builders craft a perfect LinkedIn profile for your entrepreneurial brand today. Get help now.

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