Optimising your LinkedIn profile for startup success

25 November 2016


As a startup founder, you have most likely heard the saying that “Startups are a contact sport”.  What better way to leverage your professional contacts and promote your startup brand (and personal brand) than on LinkedIn. With over 467 million members, LinkedIn provides the opportunity to build a powerful presence on the world’s most popular professional social network.

Having a company page for your startup is a great idea, but the first step to LinkedIn success (through networking and lead generation) is to ensure you optimise your personal profile.

Let’s start with four easy essentials.

#1 – Getting started!

Make sure that every section of your profile has been completed and that there are no blank spaces or obvious gaps. Here’s what you need to have completed to achieve an ‘All-Star’ status:

*  Your industry and location
*  A current position with description
*  Profile photo –  Be sure to use a professional profile picture that represents your industry.
*  Two past positions – this helps to verify your expertise
*  Your education information
*  Keep your contact information current – this includes industry, email and websites
*  At least five skills
*  At least 50 connections

#2 – Vanity URL

When you create your LinkedIn profile, a default URL with lots of confusing numbers at the end is created for you. To make this more usable, you can create a personalised URL such as this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnjsmith

This URL is far more friendly from an SEO point of view and is a vital opportunity to have your profile rank higher in Google and to make it easier for people to find you.

Go to Privacy and Settings / Edit Your Public Profile then choose Your public profile URL on the right-hand side to create your own.

#3 – Create a professional tagline

The headline is the first thing people see when they go to your LinkedIn profile. Unless you change it, your headline will appear as your current or last position held.

The LinkedIn algorithm seems to put a lot of emphasis on the words used in the headline when ranking people, so be descriptive and use industry key words as needed e.g. key attributes, benefits your startup offers, or your geographic location if you serve a specific area.

#4 – Add a background photo to your profile

Give your LinkedIn profile a little bit more personality by adding a background photo of your own. Choose a photo that represents your startup and the industry it belongs in.

To add a background photo to your profile, click Profile /Edit Profile in LinkedIn’s top navigation, then click Add a background photo at the top of your page.  LinkedIn specifies that your cover photo must be a JPG, PNG, or GIF file under 8MB in size and should have a resolution of 1400 x 425 pixels for the best look.

Want that All-Star profile status?

#5 – Add skills and get endorsements

Other users can endorse you for the skills you have listed in the Skills section of your profile. The reason endorsements are important to your profile is for search results. The more endorsements you have for a specific skill, the more likely that you’ll come up in the search results when someone is searching for that skill. Under Add skill you can choose how you want to manage your Skill and Endorsement settings. You should make sure the skills you add are relevant to your start up.

#6 – Use key words to optimise your profile

You can optimise your profile to get found by people searching LinkedIn for key terms with which you want to be associated.

Add these keywords to various sections of your profile such as your summary, specialties, job title, career history and personal interests.

#7 – Give and accept recommendations

A recommendation is a comment written by a LinkedIn member to recognise or commend a colleague or business partner. Viewers of your profile often view the recommendations you’ve received on your profile to see what others have to say about your work.

The best recommendations come from people who value your work, services or products.  This may include clients, co-founders or employees, industry partners with whom you collaborate, or past managers and colleagues.  There’s no limit to the number of recommendations you can request or give.

#8 – Join groups and get talking

Find groups related to your startup industry or niche then make sure that you join them and, if at all possible, be an active participant in two or three of them. Being an active participant means getting involved in the discussions and sharing your thoughts.

This will get your profile noticed by other industry contacts. According to LinkedIn, your profile is five times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups.

Pro tip – Group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected and more messaging and profile viewership capabilities. You can even message them without being connected as well!

#9 – Showcase awards, volunteer experience, and causes you care about

What you do out of the office says as much about you as anything else and also contributes to a higher search ranking. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers surveyed said they view volunteer experience equal to formal work experience.

#10 – Rearrange your profile

When in edit mode on your profile, hover your mouse over the title of each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click then drag and drop to another position on your profile.

Utilising the above tips will help develop the growth of your brand and generate leads for your startup.   Once your profile is set up the way you want it to look, you can make the most of the many networking opportunities that LinkedIn has to offer!