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Is Your LinkedIn Profile as Effective as it Could Be? (Part I)

I recently read an article that perfectly summed up how LinkedIn should work for all of us. The article quoted Artie Isaac, who says, “Looking at my LinkedIn profile is a lot like meeting me.”

If only we could all say that. After all, the point of being online is to make it easier to get the face-to-face meeting.

That means your LinkedIn presence should make potential customers want to work with you.

Easier said than done, right? In fact, there are some simple steps you can take to make it happen.

This is the first of a three-part series outlining steps you can take to make your LinkedIn profile work for you.

Step 1: Take the right profile photo

How big of a deal is this? Check out these stats from

  • LinkedIn users who include a photo receive 21 times more profile views than users without one. (LinkedIn claims 9x more connection requests.)
  • Profiles with a photo are 36 times more likely to receive messages.
  • Users with a professional headshot receive 14 times more views.

So, if you don’t have a photo, get one quick. If you do have a photo, let’s make sure it’s the right one.

linkedin profile photoTake a look at your profile photo and ask:

  • Is it current?
  • Will a customer recognize me when we meet?
  • Is it a professional shot (or cropped from a family photo or a vacation snap)?
  • Does it reflect who I am?

A “no” on any of those points means it’s time for a new headshot.

If you’re not sure, here are two ways to test your photo:

  1. Take a look at some of your competitors’ profile photos. Is yours as good? Would you choose to meet with you over the others based on the photo alone?
  2. Test the photo impartially, with a tool like photofeeler or snappr.

It’s worth investing in a professional headshot

Think back to those stats I quoted above. If a professional headshot gets you 14x more views, it’s worth the cost.

Whether or not you spring for the pro, here are the do’s and don’ts of a good headshot.


  • Professional attire – what you would wear to meet a client
  • Choose a colour that you look good in
  • No busy textures, patterns or logos
  • Layer your clothing – a shirt and jacket, or a shirt and loose scarf
  • Minimal accessories and makeup
  • No hats or sunglasses


  • Smile and show your teeth
  • Smile with your eyes too. (Google “how to squinch” for this. It’s a thing.)
  • It can help to hire a photographer you’re comfortable with; if you laugh and chat between shots, you’re more likely to get a relaxed, approachable, authentic expression


  • Stand with your body at a ¾ angle
  • Place one foot slightly ahead of the other
  • Take or crop the photo to show head and shoulders or head and torso only; don’t use a full body shot


  • Make sure it isn’t distracting – no figures or landmarks
  • Make sure it’s clear and well-lit (preferably not fluorescent though)
  • White is a possibility, but a solid, bright background colour works well

navigating LinkedIn

Here are the technical specs you need

Your profile photo is square, so you’ll need to crop it – 400 x 400 pixels is the right size for LinkedIn.

The file must be 8mb or smaller. Make sure you have enough detail so it’s crisp.

6 steps to your profile photo

Once you have your photo taken, here’s how to change your photo in your profile.

  1. In the “Me” drop-down menu in the top banner, choose “View profile”
  2. Left-click the place where your photo appears (or the place for your photo)
  3. Select “Change photo”
  4. Choose ”Upload photo” and select the photo from your file library (have it sized to 400 x 400 first)
  5. You can zoom in, crop it, apply a filter and make other adjustments right in LinkedIn
  6. Then just “Save photo”

Step 2: Pick your background shot

You can certainly stay with the LinkedIn default background. However, personalizing your profile background photo gives you another opportunity to stand out.

linkedin tipsJust like your profile photo, there are do’s and don’ts to remember when choosing your background photo.


  • Choose a photo that reflects who you are professionally
  • Make it a positive image
  • Use a high-quality image you own OR choose a photo from They have great options already sized to fit


  • Use a photo that competes with your profile photo. It should be a coordinating background, with your profile photo standing out in it
  • Have a key part of the background photo blocked by your profile photo
  • Use a lot of text
  • Use anything complex

Here are the technical specs you need

You’ll need a photo that’s 1,584 x 396 pixels. A jpg, png or gif file works.

How to update your background photo

  1. In the “Me” drop-down menu in the top banner, choose “View profile”
  2. Select the pencil icon in your profile
  3. On the existing background, choose the pencil icon again
  4. Choose ”Upload photo” and select the photo from your file library (have it sized to 1,584 x 396 first)
  5. You can zoom in, crop it, apply a filter and make other adjustments right in LinkedIn
  6. Then just “Apply”

STEP 3: Grab them with your headline

You may never have paid attention to your headline. Unfortunately, if you don’t, nobody else will either. That’s because it defaults to your job title and company name. With over 10,000 mortgage brokers in Canada alone, that isn’t enough.

Your headline needs these two things

Say what you do, then add some promotion to it. You have 120 characters to use. That’s in a nutshell, but once again, it’s more challenging to do than to explain it. So here are some tips to help.

Say what you do

Don’t leave them guessing. Make sure it’s clear that you’re a mortgage broker or agent. And since you want to show up in searches, use keywords that your customers use when finding people who offer your services.

Next, add a compelling fact

This is where you add some promotion. Now that you’ve told them what you do, tell them what you can do for them.

If you’re not sure what your promotional fact(s) should be, think back to successful sales conversations you’ve had or feedback you’ve received from customers. What seems to resonate? What is it about you that your customers appreciate? Identify that and include it in your headline.

Add in something measurable, a specialization or an unbiased sign of your value

  • An award or performance stat
  • Area of focus/your mission
  • What you excel at

If you have more than one point to make, add them all. Splitting them | like this | works well.

How to update your headline

  1. In the “Me” drop-down menu in the top banner, choose “View profile”
  2. Select the pencil icon in your profile
  3. Fill in the headline box (and any other missing info while you’re there)
  4. Click “Save”

STEP 4: Update your profile summary

Here’s where you start getting into a lot more content. And if that makes you want to put this down and walk away, not to worry. You’ve come a long way to optimizing your profile if you’ve taken the first three steps.

And, you can always hire somebody to write your profile.

If you are going to write it yourself, here are a few things to consider

LinkedIn app on Apple iPhone 4

Write your profile in Word first. You can spell check it easily and save previous versions.

You’ll make a better connection if you write in first person (e.g. I have 20 year of experience…).

You want to sound professional on LinkedIn, but make sure your tone reflects how you speak.

Try recording it first, or read it aloud once it’s written, to make sure it sounds like you.

Your work on your headline will help here. Think again of what resonates in sales conversations, and the feedback you get from others as you write your summary.

And, if you want your LinkedIn profile to be like meeting you, think also of what you typically say to prospects when you introduce yourself in person.

You may want to include:

  • Certifications and languages
  • More about your areas of specialization
  • How much experience you have
  • What you love about your industry
  • Why your customers love working with you
  • What you hope to accomplish
  • Volunteer and other outside interests that reflect who you are

You don’t need to cover all of your experience, because there’s an experience section later in your profile. LinkedIn lets you add media here. You can add links to articles, videos and other files that you want to highlight.

Last, but not least, do a scan for the most overused words on LinkedIn:

  • Specialize
  • Experienced
  • Skilled
  • Leadership
  • Passionate
  • Expert
  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Strategic
  • Focused

If you find any of these, here are some suggestions to replace them.

How to update your summary

  1. In the “Me” drop-down menu in the top banner, choose “View profile”
  2. Select the pencil icon in the “About” section
  3. Copy your update from Word (where you can spell check it easily) and add any links
  4. Click “Save”

Just as you wouldn’t go to a meeting without looking your best, make sure you look your best online too. Once you’ve done some work on your profile, check it out on your laptop, tablet and smartphone. And keep updating it regularly so it stays fresh. And if you’re struggling with any of the above, professional help is always a click away, so feel free to reach out.

Watch for our next article about supporting your brand by carefully selecting what you share on LinkedIn.