In 2020 I released a series of videos on how people in commercial real estate can level-up their LinkedIn profile. It was recorded at a JLL Victoria Toastmasters Club meeting in February 2020, just before I left the firm. The three videos are on this page.
This post summarises the steps, and also contains the videos from the event, in one convenient location! I have included a copy of the handout the audience members received as a companion resource, plus I have TWO special bonus tips that I didn’t share with the audience at the end of this post.
1. Make sure you have a professional photo in your LinkedIn profile. Usually, your work headshot will be the right choice. Remember, LinkedIn is different to Facebook and Instagram (and is a lot different to Tinder!). The profile doesn’t need to be highly choreographed; the simpler, the better. Try to use a photo where you’re smiling, or at least appear to be approachable.
2. Don’t waste valuable real estate! The term ‘above the fold’ refers to what people see without scrolling down (the term originally comes from what people saw on the top half of a broadsheet newspaper page), and your profile banner is a big part of that. So, you should use a custom banner to reinforce your brand. If your company doesn’t have one like the one in the example below, find an appropriate image to use (e.g. perhaps relevant to the sector you focus on, or reflecting the geography you cover). Bonus points for using a template on an app like Canva to create a custom banner.
3. Write a relevant profile headline. The profile headline introduces you to people all over LinkedIn, because it shows up when people find you in a search or when you like or comment on a post. Make sure it explains clearly how you help clients – it’s basically free advertising to people who are currently outside your network!
4. A lot of people don’t bother to have the about section complete. This is the next most important part of your profile, after the above 1, 2 and 3. The about section is an opportunity to go into more detail about who you are and how you help your clients. You can add a little bit about your experience and accomplishments here, too, but remember that your experience is covered in more detail in the work history section. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t fit everything you want to say within the section word limit, you’ve gone into way too much detail. It is also a nice touch to add something personal about yourself, but only if you want to.
5. The education section should include, at a minimum, your highest level of educational attainment. High school is optional (if that’s not your highest level of attainment), as is disclosing the years if you want to keep your age anonymous (or, at least, ambiguous!). Any relevant short courses you have done can be worthwhile including to demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement. Remember that licenses and certifications is a separate section on LinkedIn, so you can also include trade-specific qualifications in that section.
6. Make a custom URL. This just helps make your LinkedIn profile more optimised for search, and if you ever share a link to your profile, it looks a bit nicer and makes more sense than a random bunch of letters and numbers.
7. Ensure you have an accurate work history. I recommend putting some more detail here about relevant experience. Remember, though, that your LinkedIn profile is not an online resume; it’s an online professional profile. Think about who you are marketing to when deciding what to include, i.e. potential clients. Ensure your work history content is relevant to your target market. Even if you actually are looking for a new job, your CV is what will be ultimately provided to prospective employers, not your LinkedIn profile – so it’s best to keep your LinkedIn profile focused on clients.
8. Since I recorded the videos, LinkedIn has enhanced the options to upload media or links. You can now highlight certain pieces of content under Featured near the top of your profile. If you don’t have any media reports to add, you can share links to your company or team webpage, or perhaps upload PDFs of your professional profile or capability statement. As noted in the video, you can also include these links under each job within your work history.
9. You wouldn’t invite just anybody to a party or client event, or let anyone invite themselves. Just like an event you host, your LinkedIn profile is a reflection on you. Therefore, aim to have connections who enhance the quality of your network and newsfeed. The best way to do this is to proactively reach out to people who you want to be connected with, bringing them into your network. Don’t be too smug to send out invites!
10. Finally, once you have done the above nine steps, it’s time to move to the next stage and share content or add comments that build your personal brand. If writing an article, uploading a video or even posting a picture are too much of a leap forward at this stage, then take a small step: share an article, mention a project you have completed or reached a milestone on, or use the give kudos feature to thank someone for their help.
Bonus Tip 1! What would happen if a potential new client found you on LinkedIn and wanted to get in contact with you, but your contact information was out of date or incomplete? They might give up on trying to reach you and just move on. A bit part of commercial real estate (especially earlier in your career) is chasing prospects, and the dream is prospects calling us, right? Make it easier for people to contact you in the real world: update the contact information on your LinkedIn profile and consider making your phone number visible so people can call you when they feel the need.
Bonus Tip 2! For reading this article all the way to the end, I would like to give you an additional tip that will really make your profile stand out: ask people for recommendations. Recommendations are social-proof of your capability. They also stay on your profile forever. Make sure you strike while the iron is hot: if you know a client, colleague, peer or partner is really pleased with you, ask them for a recommendation as soon as possible, so that glow is reflected onto your profile for life! Hot tip: Don’t wait until you really need a recommendation to ask for one – start accumulating them now. It's a far better strategy to have them but not immediately need them, that it is to immediately need them but not have them!
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