Click on Profile on your LinkedIn site and you'll see a list of your experiences, schools, and contacts. Most people focus on developing these lists to make connections at places they've worked and where they have gone to school. LinkedIn, after all, is a great networking tool.
But before you get to this mass of information is the summary section on top. Most people don't bother to fill this out--and it may be the key to help you connect to more people than you thought possible.
From my experience, the summary is where the beefy, real content begins--and the only place to really find out who the person really is. It acts like a movie trailer, getting people emotionally connected and excited for the coming attraction. It reinforces a person's personal brand.
Whether you are trying to connect to customers, suppliers, or even new employees, the summary can offer you a snapshot of who this person is and any specialities that may be beneficial to you. For example, you can look for soft skills, attitude and creativity that are important to you.
This works in your favor, too. It is an opportunity to tell your story. Here's how to make it work for you and what to look for in other summaries.
The Elevator Pitch
Potential contacts are looking to see why you are different than all these other people on LinkedIn. Check out these lines from real summaries: "At the age of five, using only a cardboard box and a stack of paper, I established my very own paper plane crafting business" or "I'm a self-confessed word nerd with a love for high tech--and a perfect dose of OCD." Or "I'm in the business of moving mountains."
It only takes two or three sentences to describe who you are.
Here are some questions to help you craft a LinkedIn summary that brings life to the professional you are--or want to be:
- What did you learn from your very first job?
- What specific event/experience made you choose your field or profession?
- What is the coolest thing you’ve learned so far in college or life?
- Who inspires you and why? Bonus points if it’s not somebody famous.
- What can people always count on you for?
- Describe the best team you’ve ever been on (even scouts or sports) and how it affected you.
Instead of trying to cram all kinds of keywords into your summary, end your story. After those two or three sentences of the elevator pitch, add "specialties," with a list of relevant keywords for your areas of expertise. Is it software proficiency, industries worked, technical skills, applications used? This is your chance to add your industry buzzwords--words that may be picked up by algorithms scanning profiles.
For example, in my line of work we know marketing communications is abbreviated as marcom. It is what I look for when I connect with people. Construction folks know LEED and health care pros know HIPAA. List all the words or terms for which you are skilled in order to round out your summary story.
Focusing on this summary box is sure to expand your network.