Entrepreneurs are a special breed – innovators, game changers and leaders – willing to take risks and make their ideas a reality.
They are also passionate about what they do, but are not necessarily motivated to complete their LinkedIn profile.
The perception that LinkedIn is only for professionals in a career is false. LinkedIn ranks so well in Google that if you have a name (and we all have a name) – you need to complete your LinkedIn profile. I would suggest that you also need your own name website.
But let’s have a look at how an Entrepreneur can be a bit more funky and cool and add some flair and style to their LinkedIn profile.
No boring dark suit – dress how you wish to be perceived, make sure the background tells part of your ‘story’ and be a little creative. That doesn’t mean out of focus, too dark or too distant. It still needs to be a head and shoulders shot but, add some style and make sure that when someone looks at the photo, their eye naturally floats right to your name and headline.
And, make it recent. There’s nothing worse than finally meeting one of your LinkedIn connections and realising their photo was taken about 15 years ago. It makes the person appear to be uncomfortable in their own skin. Make it recent, make it reflect who you really are.
You may think it is really awesome that you are up to date with the latest buzzwords. But, that does not mean anyone will search and find you on LinkedIn. You need include well-known keywords. Determine what keywords are related to your current venture/s and make sure that they are in your headline. You may have invented a new term, fantastic, but make sure everyone else can still understand what you are talking about.
In your case, this is not a summary of your skills and a pseudo cover letter for potential employers.
This is the time to shine! Remember that potential venture capitalists will be reading it. Get your elevator pitch right and use that as your summary.
Indicate what you need to make your enterprise a success – do you want advisors, mentors, partners, equity or investment?
Remember to include your contact details and, a call to action. This is also your opportunity to add a digital presentation file that tells more of the story than the 2,000 text characters allowed in the summary.
You may be wondering how you can get past the corporate career to convince the reader that you are a bona fide entrepreneur. The best thing to do is make sure you list all of the tasks and achievements you have completed in each past role. More importantly, share details of your past projects in a separate section, these can tell much more of your story.
If you have been an entrepreneur your entire life, then now is the time to summarise all of those amazing activities you have done in the past. Don’t be shy – spill the beans!
Share the highs and the lows, how you overcame challenges and what difficulties you faced. If the venture failed, what did you learn? If it was successful, provided the information is not commercial in confidence, quote some facts and figures. Again, provide digital files for extra detail and oomph.
Did you spend two years trekking through India to gain inspiration for your next venture? For goodness sakes, share those details in the Experience section so that the reader doesn’t think you were in jail for tax fraud because two years are unaccounted for in your profile.
Maybe you spent five years doing Research and Development while you still had a day job. In this case, don’t list your venture start date as six months ago when it was registered as a company. List that it started five and a half years ago, when you first began to work on the idea.
6. Advice for contacting you
Anything you weren’t able to include in the Summary Section can be added here, but also include a summation of the most important points, a call to action and, your contact details.
If you don’t want to publicly list your phone number or email address, include a hyperlink to an online contact form. This will not be a clickable link but the reader can still cut and paste it into their browser.
If you are a new age energetic entrepreneur and your personal interests are ancient historical novels, stamp collecting and jigsaw puzzles, it may be a ‘disconnect’ in the reader’s mind. Include the interests that match your identity but, also reveal something unique about you (it makes you more memorable). After your personal interests are listed, add your keywords as interests too.
LinkedIn: your personal statement
By now, you should realise that you can add your own flair to your LinkedIn profile. It will be another tool to enhance your reputation and, help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals. You can still measure your return on investment like every other LinkedIn member – but, I am sure if you complete these suggestions, you will take an extra step towards your dreams of successful entrepreneurship.
Sue Ellson joined LinkedIn on 21 December 2003. Her profile was in the top 1% of viewed profiles in 2012. As of January 2014, she had 3,686 Connections and 745 Profile Views and 12,994 appearances in search results (in the last 90 days), 1,368 endorsements and 30 recommendations. Sue regularly generates local and international business, work and opportunities for others through LinkedIn. Sue is currently writing a book on LinkedIn, provides training workshops for small groups, speaks at various professional events and provides private client consultations. Find her on LinkedIn (yes, really) or email her.