Spring cleaning is a process we love to put off. Now is a great time to clarify the message you convey on your LinkedIn personal profile, taking another opportunity to be more precise about the value you offer to the market. Your goal: an effective LinkedIn profile that will stimulate the reader to contact you for business opportunities, seeing clearly why you do what you do.

Here are eight tips for adding spring to your LinkedIn personal profile.

  1. Decide if you need to update your headshot photo--remember: It follows you all over LinkedIn. Do you look professional yet approachable in your headshot? Does that photo still look like you? Get a new headshot every three to five years. Use the background effectively: architects in front of a building; attorneys in front of a bookshelf, etc.
  2. Does your headline succinctly describe why you do what you do, not blandly list your title and company name? In today's world, you only have the mere 120-character headline to make an immediate electronic impression to whet the intellectual appetite of a casual reader. Use every character, and knit in the keywords that can be used to search for you.
  3. Make it easy to get in touch with you, in all communication media. Be sure that all links to your Twitter, Facebook, email, blog, and website actually work. You did list a phone number, too, right? Everyone has a preferred method of communication, and be ready and accessible in any of them.
  4. Create and use your own shortened LinkedIn URL. Look more polished when you use it on your website, résumé, blog, slides, email signature, marketing materials, business cards, anywhere that can be used to have others learn more about you on LinkedIn. If someone else has your same name at the end of the URL, be creative yet logical in what you choose. Try appending "esq" at the end of you are a lawyer, "cpa" if an accountant. See my blog post on why/how to do this.
  5. Construct your Summary section as just that: a high-level snapshot of where you learned your skills, who you are today, and your coming goals, expressed in your own voice. Think of it as your one shot at a short self-introduction, like an elevator speech, spanning the reading time a somewhat distracted audience takes to travel only a few floors. Add pertinent short videos, podcasts, links, PDFs, or slide decks as additional material to complement what you said.
  6. Be sure your Experience section reflects the breadth of what you bring daily to the proverbial table. Describe the key values you learned in each position and how you cultivated your skills. Talk about successes, as this section should complement the other sections. Resist acronyms or industry jargon, since people outside your field may be reading. Add graphics and video to the specific positions in the same way as you did for the Summary section.
  7. Ensure your Summary and Experience sections talk about you, not your company, even if you are the company. This is your personal profile. LinkedIn provides company profile pages elsewhere for describing and marketing the business. Don't intermix and mistake personal with company profile narratives.
  8. List your Skills in sharp focus: Be very specific. "Marketing" is not a skill per se (rather, it's a textbook on a shelf); "social media marketing analytics" is a more exact skill, as is "integrated marketing analysis." Cull out endorsers who don't know each skill from direct experience with you, but somehow endorsed you for it anyhow.

OK, you did some heavy lifting. Re-landscape the other sections as well. Sometimes spring cleaning involves minor remodeling, sometimes structural renovation. Write and save several iterations and you will progress with a new and improved brand. Be sure you always work methodically to achieve tangible results section by section and show your best credentials on LinkedIn, ever sharp and polished!

Published on: Apr 4, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.