What if your LinkedIn profile is perfect for conveying what you do now, but not what you want to do? What if you want to do something new -- like start a business?
I often hear questions like this from clients. They have a corporate career in, say, finance, but they crave a change. Maybe they want to leave behind the corporate world for the nonprofit world. Maybe they want to do what they do now, but instead as an independent business professional or small business owner.
When the change you crave is to start your own company or to go solo, there are tweaks you can make to your LinkedIn profile to raise your profile and gain credibility for that next professional adventure. When I was starting my public relations business nearly four years ago, I didn't have clients lined up out the door. But I made sure to talk up results I'd had with clients I worked for in my corporate communications role, which helped me gain traction.
If you're yearning for a professional change, here are four ways to change up your LinkedIn profile.
1. Rethink your headshot.
You know the saying: Dress for the job you want. Think of your LinkedIn profile headshot the same way. If you're an accountant who wants to turn a knack for fashion into a personal styling business, you might change out the photo of you in a suit for one that shows a bit more of your personal style. If you're a web designer for a startup who wants to make the move to start something in a more buttoned-up industry, you might ditch the the business casual attire for a more professional look.
2. Change up your cover image.
Use the background image behind your headshot to underscore your interests and where you're headed professionally. If you're tired of a desk job and want to work outdoors, upload a picture of the great outdoors. If you just opened a financial planning business, look for money-related images. A realtor? Find a photo of a sold sign in front of a house.
You can use photos that you've taken yourself, of course, or find images free of copyright free images at sites like Pexels.com, Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com.
If you're a freelance or commercial photographer, upload your own art into the cover image space. I see too many photographers leave this space blank; it's like a billboard for your work.
3. Rewrite your 'About.'
Use your 'About' section to talk not just about your current work, but the kind of work that you find rewarding and deeply satisfying. Say you have a corporate job and want to transition to the nonprofit world. Write about interactions you've had with nonprofits. Write about outside board or volunteer experience. Talk about your values.
Remember above all else that this is your story. Use it to convey more than just your resume. That way when you start a business, people -- prospective clients or potential future employees -- understand you bring understanding, awareness and immense interest. That way people understand this isn't a new or sudden shift, but a thoughtful, well thought out business or professional move.
4. Get to writing articles.
Finally, as you envision the business you'd like to start, show your expertise in this area by writing about it. Plan to launch a digital marketing agency? Start writing and posting articles on LinkedIn about digital content, search engine optimization and Google analytics. Are you a communications professional who wants to support a new line of business or industry? Start writing about that business or industry and share articles other subject matter experts and media outlets have written.
Here's the thing, if you want a professional change, your LinkedIn profile has to change, too.