In the past two articles, we looked at why you should use LinkedIn and discovered some best practices for filling out the header section.
In this article, we’re going to look at my favorite profile section — the summary. I enjoy working this section and have probably changed it seven or eight times over the last 3 years. I actually have fun rewriting it, tweaking it to perfection.
How Do I Write Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.
There are several ways you can write your summary, which is the first part of the background section. You have 2,000 characters to make your case.
I’ll get this out of the way first. The absolute worst thing you can do is not fill out the summary section. Leaving your summary blank is like putting up a billboard with no message on it. It’s noticeable, but the fascination ends there.
People will just drive on by. Can you hear the crickets chirping?
So just how do you write a good summary? As I mentioned, you can write it several ways.
Some people merely list their skills in a bulleted or numbered list. In my opinion, that’s the least creative way to showcase your services. When I read one of these laundry list profiles, it makes me wonder how much the person really knows about those skills.
There is nothing in the profile to entice or convince me this person is who I’m looking for. This is often the indicator of a newbie, either in their craft, or in building a LinkedIn profile.
It’s better if the summary has a little meat on the bone. A paragraph or two explaining about the profile owner is much better. Then put in the list of skills. At least that way, the reader has a little more to go on than just a list of words.
Numbered lists or bulleted lists are fine. I use them in my profile summary. But please, give your prospect more information. It’s the best way to make a qualified decision.
There’s another way to write your profile summary. And it’s my favorite way because it’s not necessarily the norm. It gains attention and goes a long way in convincing your prospect they may have found their writer.
But first … one more Shakespeare misquote.
All the World’s a Stage. Where’s Your Spotlight Shining?
When you are marketing yourself, there are three centers of interest you can use. They are:
- Service-centric — showcasing the services you offer
- Egocentric — with the spotlight squarely on you as a service provider
- Prospect-centric — where you shine the light on the person who deserves it, your prospect
You already realize that the laundry list summary is service-centric. It’s like setting out a bunch of cookies on a tray and asking your prospect to pick one. Except that they may not pick a service since they don’t look appetizing.
An egocentric profile focuses the spotlight on the profile owner. It’s really a very common form of summary. Everything in the summary touts the expertise of the owner.
They can do this. They can do that. And they can even do that thing over there. Because it focuses on the writer, the reader often feels left out. The summary comes across as a hard sell. And that can drive people away.
The egocentric summary is a little better than the service-centric summary. At least the reader has a better idea of what the writer does. A good decision can be made in that case.
How do you spot an egocentric profile summary? One of the easiest ways is to count how many times the word “I” is used. If the summary is peppered with it, the summary is probably egocentric. It can be very noticeable when the summary is short.
How to Write a Prospect-Centric Summary
I’ve tried to make my summary prospect-centric.
I used up almost all of the 2,000 characters and the word “I” is used only four times. When writing my profile summary, it doesn’t tell the reader what I do. It tells them what I can do for them.
One way to do that is to tell a story. Not your story. But the story of them, your prospects. You probably know that storytelling is an effective way of marketing and selling. Use it to market yourself!
At first, it may seem foreign to you. But practice writing a story-based summary. I use a separate document to get it just right before I copy and paste a new summary.
For an example, here are the first few paragraphs in my summary. Some are single sentence paragraphs, by the way. My grade school grammar teacher would cringe. But it’s more readable.
You’ve got a great product or service. Something that would really help your targeted market.
Your offer is excellent. But it’s difficult to get noticed in the crowd.
So, how do you stand out?
You must be someone that potential clients can get to know, like and trust. A likeable expert. Content marketing does that. Content marketing is not a noun; it’s a very powerful and active verb.
I can help you. I specialize in content marketing.
Do you see what I mean?
Until you get to the end of the section, it’s all about the reader, my prospect. It lets them know that I understand their challenges. And that I know what it takes to solve them.
I do follow that up with a list of services I provide. But then I immediately jump back into their story. Here’s what it looks like:
You present yourself a likeable expert by marketing with quality content. That content includes:
- Blog articles
- Website content that answers questions
- Lead generation emails, landing pages and auto responders
- Case studies and special reports
- Newsletter articles and placed industry publication articles
All of these items – and others I didn’t mention – are good examples of marketing content. All are used for content marketing. And while they don’t ask for a direct sale like ad copy, they each must have a call to action. These CTAs present you as a likeable expert, a trustworthy source of information.
And as a friend because people don’t buy from companies. They buy from people. And they buy more from people they consider friends. It’s just that simple.
If you’ve finished your profile header, it’s time to turn your attention to your summary. It’s more than just a jumble of words. Really, it’s one of the most powerful pieces of sales copy you’ll ever write.
And by the way, it’s a great sample of your writing expertise. Something to think about, right?
The next two articles are going to be related. And they’re very important. We’ll look at how you use your LinkedIn account to be proactive in your self-marketing. And how you use your profile to get clients coming to you.