Ten Simple Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile For Success


As a LinkedIn group manager, I have the daily opportunity to view profiles of nonprofit leaders from all over the world. Although I’m delighted to engage with so many social entrepreneurs using this platform, there are some unwritten best-practices about using LinkedIn that I’d like to share.

I am confident that they can help you grow your network and help spread the word about your organization’s important work more effectively.

Building upon my last #SM4GOOD post “How To Turn Strangers Into Colleagues Using Linkedin“, I want to share ten simple ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile for success.

Ten Simple Ways To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile For Success:

  1. Use a professional, classy picture of yourself. LinkedIn is a professional network, not Facebook. Use a classy looking picture of yourself that helps build your brand as a leader. It is ok to use an image of yourself with your family, friends, pets or participating in some activity on other platforms but not here. If you don’t have a a current, high-resolution picture uploaded yet, do that right away.
  2. Use your headline as a place for a benefits statement instead of your job titleLinkedIn gives you tons of space to write up a killer one-liner; add some spice to your headline. Which do you feel is more engaging to a potential donor or colleague?

    headline #1 that says “Executive Director of ABC town Community Services” or

    headline #2 that says “Helping at-risk youth in ABC town increase their self confidence through learning practical job skills”.
  3. Make your profile public for anyone to view. If you’re looking to make strategic connections through LinkedIn, make sure that anyone can view your complete profile any time. When someone wants to connect with me yet has blocked huge portions of their profile from the public, I am immediately skeptical about what they’re hiding and automatically decline the connection request.
  4. Don’t have too many (or too few) connections. We’ve all seen them; LION networkers with tens of thousands of “connections”. If you’re in the game of quantity over quality when it comes to first-degree connections, you should probably focus on Twitter as LinkedIn works best when you organically build yourself a network of people you know or legitimately want to get to know. On the flip side, having too few connections (let’s say under 50) gives the impression that you’re not really serious about using LinkedIn.
  5. Write your profile in the first person. This one I don’t understand. It’s your profile, you’re writing it. Why write in the third person? It’s not a resume, a book jacket or a biography. It’s a professional personal ad. Referring to yourself as your first name doesn’t make you look smarter or more professional, if anything it creates an emotional gap between you and the person browsing your profile. Use “I” instead.
  6. Strategically filter your displayed endorsements. It’s always exciting when someone endorses us for our work but that doesn’t mean we have to display all the kudos on our profile. I’m a big fan of picking the top 10-15 endorsement categories that align with the message you’re trying to send and deleting the rest. By eliminating random, off-topic endorsements from your profile you’ll look tidy and focused.
  7. Display authentic recommendations. People like doing business with those whose talent has been vouched for by other credible leaders. There are probably dozens of people who would be happy to recommend your work but until you ask them to write up a quick note about their experience working with you, there will be no social proof to show your prospects that you’re really great at what you do. Take the plunge and ask for some support from your network. Most people will easily say “yes” (if you sincerely did a great job for them).
  8. Go easy on the status updates. The trick in navigating social media is that each platform is completely different from every other. On Twitter you can easily get away with posting 15-20 times/day; however, on LinkedIn, this is just not done. The name of the game on LinkedIn is professional courtesy – only post relevant, informative updates 2-3 times/day.  (Oh yeah, don’t accidentally use hashtags or @mentions – looks super tacky).
  9. Reply to your direct messages in a timely manner. Someone sending you a message and not getting a reply within 3 business days is like someone calling you personally on the phone and you never calling them back – pretty rude. No matter what, make sure you have a system in place to get those messages and reply to each and every one as soon as possible. Stand apart from the crowd and actually check your inbox regularly – this one is a LinkedIn game changer.
  10. Send personalized connection requests. When you send a connection request to someone and just use the default request script, it gives the impression that you don’t really care about the person you’re sending the request to. Take ten extra seconds when expanding your network to write a personal note about who you are and why you want to connect with them. Go the extra mile, it makes a BIG difference.

The thing I love (and hate) about LinkedIn is that unlike Facebook or Twitter, there is a very distinctive culture and unwritten set of expectations that each user should adhere to. For many people, the amount of work that goes into setting up a proper LinkedIn profile, is so overwhelming that they don’t even try to figure it out then end up being one of the millions of profiles that no one looks at and no one engages with.

What could you accomplish and who could you meet by deciding to become an expert at using LinkedIn instead of trying to get by on just the basics?

Got a question about any of these ideas? Leave a comment and I’d be happy to reply. 

About The Author…

Next Level Nonprofit
Equipping EDs with the skills & support needed to enjoy a successful, sustainable & satisfying nonprofit career. Follow her on Twitter @ngolinsky
Natasha Golinskyon
Vancouver, Canada Area | Professional Training & Coaching


How To Turn Strangers Into Colleagues Using LinkedIn


I was scanning through my online calendar the other day and couldn’t help but notice how almost every single conversation I had had in the past 30 days was with someone who had I “met” using LinkedIn.

A Skype call with one of my best friends who is an Executive Director of a small Oregon nonprofit?
-Met him on LinkedIn.

A phone call with a colleague from Boston who I check in with regularly to share career growth notes?
-Met him on LinkedIn.

A conference call with the women in my virtual marketing mastermind group?
-Met all of them there too.

As I thought about how I grateful I am to have connected with all these incredible nonprofit professionals, I noticed that the development of each relationship had followed a consistent pattern.  If you’re new to social media or are just unsure about how to effectively use LinkedIn, I’d like to share with you my step-by-step plan for turning strangers into colleagues using the biggest business directory in the world.

Step 1. Know WHO you want to meet. Approaching LinkedIn without a game-plan is incredibly overwhelming. There is so much going on, so many groups and so many profiles; it’s so easy to feel lost in the mix. Strategically identify 2-3 types of connections you’re looking to make and write up a demographic profile of each before you begin any kind of networking. Example:

  • Potential clients: Executive Director of human services nonprofits in Oregon.
  • Potential joint-venture partners: Other nonprofit consultants who have a different but complimentary offer for the same target market that you could network with.
  • Top influencers you’d welcome the opportunity to learn from: Another nonprofit thought-leader in your niche that you’ve always looked up to and whose books you love.

Step 2. Figure out WHAT the benefit of connecting with you is. Once you know the WHO (the “types” you identified in Step 1), you can then begin to plan out your WHAT. Take the time to identify the specific needs and pain-points of each prospects and write down some ice breakers that you could use to initiate a conversation. Example:

  • Potential client connection request: “Hi Joe, it’s great to connect with another Oregon based nonprofit professional. I’d love to hear more about your organization’s vision for the community of Albany and if there is anything I can do to help spread the word about your work.”
  • Potential joint-venture partner connection request: “Hi Jane, I’m a big fan of your blog and love the work that you’re doing to help Oregon based nonprofits develop successful capital campaigns. I’d love to hear more about your work and discuss potential networking opportunities that would help us both grow our businesses.”
  • When connecting with a top influencers: It is usually better to wait until you have a strong LinkedIn foundation and you can show them that you’re profile is totally up to date, you’ve got lots of connections (and recommendations) before you initiate contact. Hold off on this one for now.

Step 3. Invite them to a phone conversation.  Once someone from your target market accepts your connection request, the next step is to move the relationship OFFLINE asap. Imagine that you have a 48 hour window between the time that you get a new connection and the time that they forget about you completely. Setting up a phone call is a great way to build rapport quickly. For example:

  • For any new connection: “Thanks for accepting my connection request Jake. How’s your schedule looking over the next week or so? I’d love to set up a time to chat and learn more about you and the work that you do and if there is anything I can do to help spread the word.”

Step 4. Do your homework!!! This is the networking secret that NO ONE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE does that will totally blow your prospect away.  Before your call, spend at least 20 minutes getting to know everything you can about this person. Read through their LinkedIn profile, check out the “about me” tab on their website, Google them. Jot down 5-8 interesting little known facts about them that you can bring up in conversation. For example:

  • “Jill, it’s so great to get a chance to connect with you on the phone. I gotta say, it’s not often that I get a chance to talk to a licensed scuba diver. I don’t want to take up a bunch of your time today but I can’t wait to hear how you went from living on a boat in Thailand to becoming the ED of a West Coast nonprofit. That’s got to be a great story!”

Step 5. Don’t sell on the first call. No matter how tempted you are, use the first phone call as a time to chat and get to know each other. Block 20-30 minutes just to have a regular conversation and identify the needs of your prospect. Professionals take their time. Use this call to add tremendous value to your contact (maybe some free advice, maybe make an introduction you know they could benefit from, etc). Don’t try to close. Relax and have fun.

Step 6. Add them to a follow-up schedule. As you start having phone calls with new connections, you’ll find that there are certain people that you really liked and want to stay in touch with. With these people, set up a keep-in-touch schedule you feel would be appropriate for the situation. Make it your objective to get to know them and to be a friend – don’t be one of those people who are always trying to sell them. When the time is right and they’re looking for a partner to help them solve their problem, you’re the person they think of.

Check out this handy infographic via PowerFormula for Linkedin Success:
Linkedin Infographic

I know that for many people who have spent their entire careers networking in a live – face-to-face format – social media networking can be a bit daunting. If you have a question about any of the specific steps I outlined above, please leave a comment and I’d be happy to do my best to answer them. See you on LinkedIn!

About The Author…

Next Level Nonprofit
Equipping EDs with the skills & support needed to enjoy a successful, sustainable & satisfying nonprofit career. Follow her on Twitter @ngolinsky
Natasha Golinskyon
Vancouver, Canada Area | Professional Training & Coaching

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