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Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile for Next Level Networking

by | Oct 12, 2023 | 0 comments

Image description: View from above on a man sitting on a sofa with a laptop on a small table in front of him.

It’s time we talk about LinkedIn. Not so long ago, I viewed the platform as being very cold and sterile, much too corporate for self-employed people running freedom-focused careers.

But since this spring, I’ve been putting in the effort to show up regularly on LinkedIn, and I’m happy to say it has definitely ‘loosened its tie.’ (seriously, they’re using GIFs, memes, the whole nine!) It’s become a lot more social, and we’re even starting to see “LinkedIn Influencers” emerging, proving that this can be an excellent platform for personal branding.

This presents a unique advantage for freelancers and VAs. Showing up in this space as the entrepreneur that you are can be extremely fruitful because people are spending money on LinkedIn. They’re primed and ready to invest in people, offerings, and opportunities that can solve problems and take them to the next level in their own business ventures. This means your time spent networking could have a much higher conversion rate.

With roughly 15 different sections that you can enable on LinkedIn, where does one start?

I’ve got you covered. Today, we’re going to dive into how to level up your LinkedIn page to help you get the most out of what this platform has to offer. We’ll look at how to boost your profile basics, plus 5 additional sections that can really wrap things in a bow!

Like with any other platform where you’re building a presence and marketing yourself, you want to let people know who you are, what you know, and what you do (aka, what you can do for them!)

Profile Picture & Cover Photo:

Profile picture & cover photo: Let’s start from the top with the ever-important profile pic and cover photo. We’re well familiar with this from Facebook, but this won’t be the place for a photo of kids, pets, or favorite fiction character; it’s time to put the spotlight on you!

I did say LinkedIn has become more relaxed, but we’ll still skill the puppy-ears Snapchat filters this time. You don’t have to hire a photographer for professional headshots, but you do want to use a clear photo with little to no obstructions or distractions. We want people to see and recognize you as you network and navigate through the platform, so take a friendly, welcoming photo that makes people say, “I want to connect with this person.”

Headline:

Underneath your name is arguably one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile: your headline. I often talk about the importance of creating and sharing a declaration that serves as your elevator pitch when networking and telling people about what you do. Your LinkedIn headline is your declaration in super-powerful short form.

Mine for example: CEO, Digital Nomad Kit: Virtual Assistant Coach & Recruiter, 30k Global Learners 🧑‍💻 Youth VA Training Program Lead, MaNaBu (NPO) 💪 DEIB Champion, Passport Collector, Digital Nomad of 15 yrs 🧑‍💻🌎
I keep it fun with a few emojis but still drive the points that matter most. Keep in mind, as you leave comments on LinkedIn posts, it will show up to the first 75-ish characters of your headline beneath it, so make sure it’s clear and/or an attention grabber; it can make a big difference for people deciding whether to click on you or not.

Links & Location:

You can add up to 3 links to your contact info; make them count! Linking your main business page or social account is a must, and consider a booking link for discovery calls, or a linktree URL to maximize what you share.

If you’re coming onto LinkedIn as a digital nomad, you’ll find that it won’t let you list “digital nomad,” “remote,” or multiple cities as your location. So, choose a location that makes sense for your business. Maybe it’s where you’re from, where your business is established, or a place that you visit often. For example, I chose New York because I have family there, and it’s been an excellent networking place for me every time I visit the state. That’s extended to LinkedIn as well, as I’m finding that high-level entrepreneurs in the New York area reaching out to connect.

Featured & Activity Feed:

Your Featured area is the go-to space for important things you don’t want visitors to miss. LinkedIn allows you to feature, or rather ‘pin’, up to 5 key posts: newsletters, articles, media, or most importantly, external links. This is prime real estate to showcase not only your authority in your industry but also any offers, calls, media features and so on.  For example, on mine, I have my free 5 Day VA Challenge, my newsletter, my hiring services, and notable media features.

Right below your features is your ‘activity’.  A key part of optimizing your profile is to also make use of the feed by posting regularly (and by regularly, I mean at whatever frequency feels most sustainable to you, meaningfully is more important than every day). It also means reshares, commenting and using this social media to be, well, social! This area demonstrates your commitment to your craft and assures people you’re active in business. 

About Section:

Now, here’s where you can go in-depth about who you are and what you do. LinkedIn is rewarding storytellers now, and this is a prime opportunity to introduce the story that you’ll be sharing as you post more content to your page. Think of it like the synopsis on the back of a good book or that first opening chapter. Get visitors eager for the next chapter!

Remember to keep it cohesive. My headline was more or less bullet points of important things I want people to know. My about section complements it by basically being an expansion of those points in greater detail, plus some fun facts about me to show my personality. Finally, I end my bio with a checklist of things that people should contact me for. If they’re skimming through, it’s a fast eyecatcher and a quick read to let everyone know, “This is what I’m about!”

Contact me for:

✅ Speaking engagements/media enquiries
✅ Strategic partnerships
✅ Hiring trained Virtual Assistants/Contractors
✅ Starting or growing your VA business (group programs and private mentoring available)
✅ Creating a community-first business model

Alright, now we’ve got something to work with! Let’s build on it with 5 main sections that you’ll want to consider: Experience, Skills, Recommendations, Education, Licenses & Certifications. Utilizing these can go a long way in validating to your level of expertise as a VA.

Experience, Skills, Recommendations:

In the experience section, you’ll list both previous and current jobs or self-employed/freelancing activities. You don’t have to put in the full extent of your work history, the same way that you don’t need to put everything you’ve ever done on a resume. Just put in the extent that tells the narrative that you want to be told. I’ve had manyyy jobs over the years, but in my experience section, I only list the 5 most relevant, 2 of which are current.

Remember that relevancy doesn’t just mean from within the same industry. It can be a completely different industry if there are still relevant skills that you’re actively using in your work as a VA. You can assign the skills to different positions you have listed in your experience section. For example. Digital Nomad Kit is on my list of experience (obvs), and the assigned skills are:

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) · Community Management · Recruiting · Business Coaching · Product Design · E-Learning · Community Engagement · Management · Course Creation

This is your opportunity to take a good look at what you do and what’s involved in it. Running your own VA business requires more skills than the services you’re offering. Maybe you offer Copywriting services, but by running your business, you’re marketing, maybe doing graphic design, customer support, and the list goes on.

The skills themselves have their own dedicated section on your LinkedIn page, and you can add up to 50 skills that your peers can “endorse” to further validate and prove that you are an authority at what you do.

Speaking of validating your skills, if you’ve had previous employers, clients, or collaborators who love your work, invite them over to LinkedIn to leave a recommendation. Those glowing testimonials will go a long way!

Education, Licenses & Certifications:

There was a time on LinkedIn when it seemed like an unwelcoming space if you hadn’t completed some form of continued education, but things are changing. You don’t have to have education displayed on your page, but I recommend it if you’ve taken some online courses that have issued certificates (*cough* like the Virtual Excellence Academy!)

If you’ve been around DNK a while now, you know I was never really great at school and therefore didn’t get a college degree. But, just this summer, I took an online class Social Anthropology, which earned me a certificate from the University of Oxford. You don’t need full-on degrees; certificates and licenses are an exceptional way to showcase your efforts toward continuous learning.

Bonus! If you upgrade to a Premium account, you get access to “LinkedIn Learning,” which has thousands of online courses that will grant you certificates that you can display on your profile. It’s a cool and easy way to start earning relevant certificates that further highlight your genius. Plus, if you’re upskilling on transitioning to a new zone of expertise, it’s also going to be a helpful starting point to build from.

Image description: Phone lying on table with the LinkedIn App open.

And that’s not all! Other sections you can add, including Projects, Interests, Causes, Volunteering, Languages, Honors & Awards, Publications, all sections to further let people get to know you, your work, your passions, and your values. It’s all in what you choose to share; the story you choose to tell.

While it may not be as visually appealing as an Instagram feed, the layout of Linkedin is perfect for gaining a holistic glimpse of who you are professionally and personally! Don’t let this platform slip under your radar. I’m actually really excited about the way LinkedIn is evolving! Though it’s become a lot more diverse and welcoming to freelancers, I still feel it’s vastly under-utilized by people in the VA space. If we collectively start showing up, I think it will create a real impact that helps us continue to raise the bar and the recognition of VAs as the highly skilled professionals they are.

This article condenses just some of the information I covered during a live 90-minute session in my Virtual Excellence Academy learner’s community, where we not only talked about how to optimize our profiles but also networking and conversion strategies to land more clients! I host live sessions like these monthly; sign up for the Virtual Excellence Academy waitlist if you want to be there for the next one!

Author: Hannah Dixon
Hannah Dixon is a Business Coach, Recruiter, and Founder of Digital Nomad Kit and The Virtual Excellence Academy (VEA). The VEA is a leading educational program and diverse global community that has honed the skills and confidence of over 30,000+ virtual assistants and freelancers. Committed to ethical hiring practices, she also provides VIP recruitment services. Hannah views freelancing and self-leadership as potent tools for social change, empowering anyone, anywhere, to unlock potential and create life-changing opportunities. As a 16-year digital nomad, she speaks internationally, demonstrating progressive business and lifestyle approaches, and powerfully compelling audiences to action.

But, how?

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