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A step by step guide: How to create the perfect LinkedIn profile (and why everyone needs to do it)

Love it or loathe it, your LinkedIn profile needs to be impressive.

Why?

Because some potential clients will visit your profile (either by accident or design) then make judgements about whether you’re the right adviser or planner for them.

Even if you’re not a regular on LinkedIn, Google will index your profile and it will appear in the search results for your name. Potential clients run these searches, including those referred to you by existing clients or professional connections.

After the search, they typically browse the results, click selected links, and make judgements about your suitability as an adviser/planner based on what they see. Every link they could click needs to impress them.

That includes your LinkedIn profile.

Naturally, if you’re active on LinkedIn distributing content, commenting on other people’s posts, and interacting with other users (there are 26 million in the UK alone!) you will welcome visits to your profile from prospective clients. Again though, judgements will be made, and conclusions reached.

Irrespective of how prospective clients land on your LinkedIn profile, it needs to impress them.

Here’s how you impress people

Your LinkedIn profile is far more extensive than other social media platforms.  It’s effectively a mini website all about you! Consequently, building a great profile takes more time and effort than, say, Facebook or Twitter.

So, to help, we’ve created this step by step guide which explains everything you need to know and do to create the perfect profile. We’ve also developed a handy checklist, which you can use to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Click here to download the checklist.

The key parts of a LinkedIn profile

Your LinkedIn profile is made up of several sections which we’ll deal with broadly in the order they appear.

You can amend each of these sections by clicking on the small edit icon as shown in the image below:

Your profile URL

Think of your LinkedIn URL as a website address.

Unless you’ve changed it, LinkedIn will have allocated a URL to your profile. It’s usually pretty ugly and instantly forgettable.

You can easily solve the problem by personalising your URL. It’s a quick, easy way to differentiate you from other LinkedIn users, boost your credibility, and look more elegant when sharing the URL with others.

To customise your URL:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Click: Edit public profile & URL in the top right-hand corner of the page
  • Click: The blue edit icon to the right of your existing URL and type in your preferred URL to see if it’s available when you find one that is, click ‘Save’

The URL can include letters and numbers and be up to 30 characters in length. Although, you can’t use spaces, special characters or emojis.

Ideally, you should use a combination of your name and your business name.

Banner image

The banner is the section at the top of your profile, and it’s prime online real estate seen by everyone who visits your LinkedIn profile. However, it’s often overlooked and blank, or includes an ineffective if attractive image.

Instead, we recommend putting it to work by including the following in your banner:

  • Your logo
  • Social proof; for example, an award, client testimonial, VouchedFor rating and so on
  • Contact details
  • Website address

As an example, here’s mine:

To change your banner image:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Click: Click on the edit button in the top right-hand corner of the banner image
  • Follow the steps from there

If you’re struggling to design an eye-catching banner, we can help. Simply email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.

Picture

According to LinkedIn, profiles with a photo get up to 21 times more views than those without.

Ideally, your photo should be professional and clear. Remember too that it’s small and round so make sure your face fills most of it.

To add a new image:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click on your photo
  • Follow the steps from there

You can now add a green or purple banner to your image to indicate that you are hiring or, alternatively, looking for a new position. It’s a new feature which might be handy from time to time.

Headline

Your headline is prominently displayed below your image, so it’s important you get it right.

Traditionally, the headline has only included a job title. That’s because it’s the default option offered by LinkedIn and because many people probably don’t understand why it should be more descriptive.

Instead of simply including your job title, you have 120 characters which means you can  be more creative. For example, include your job title e.g. Financial Planner, and explain three key things using terms and keywords potential clients might search for:

  1. What you do
  2. Who you do it for
  3. Why people work with you

Getting your headline right is so important because:

  • It’s displayed prominently and it’s a way of sharing key information with people who don’t read the rest of your profile
  • It’s used by LinkedIn’s algorithm to decide your place in the search results
  • It appears next to your name in those search results
  • Google includes the description in its search results

To change your headline:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: The edit icon next to ‘More’, below the banner image
  • Scroll down: Complete your headline
  • Click: ‘Save’

Contact info

Too many LinkedIn profiles are missing basic contact details, which makes it harder for prospective clients to get in touch or learn more about you.

The contact details on your profile can include:

  • Your website address (you can add multiple websites, so include links to pages where clients can engage with your social proof, for example, the client stories page on your website or your VouchedFor profile)
  • Telephone number
  • Office address
  • Email address
  • Links to other social media channels
  • Your birthday (which always encourages messages from connections and potential clients)

To edit your contact details:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Click: The edit icon next to ‘More’, below the banner image
  • Scroll down: Click the edit icon next to ‘Contact info’
  • Click: ‘Apply’
  • Click: ‘Save’

About

The ‘About’ section on too many profiles is hard to read because even the most basic of formatting (italics, bold etc.), to break up the text isn’t possible. That means many people who find your profile won’t read all the information in the ‘About’ section, skimming it at best.

To solve the problem, use sub-headings to highlight key information, including:

  • Who you work with
  • Your differentiators (there are no USPs in financial services)
  • The benefits of working with you (ideally including social proof)

Then, make your sub-headings stand out even further by:

  • Highlighting them in bold: There is no formatting functionality in this section of LinkedIn, however, you can copy and paste headlines in bold or italics by using YayText.
  • Adding icons or graphics: It’s also possible to cut and paste icons and graphics into your ‘About’ description to make the sub-headings stand out. You can source these by clicking here. Choose carefully though. You don’t want your LinkedIn profile to look like a teenager’s latest WhatsApp or Snapchat message!

These tools and techniques mean visitors to your profile will take away key information even if they just skim read this section.

You can click here, then scroll down to the ‘About’ section to see how I’ve used the techniques and tools mentioned above to create engaging sub-headings on my LinkedIn profile.

Featured

This is often overlooked, but it’s incredibly important as it allows you to showcase your work to people who visit your profile.

You can add:

  • Your latest or best LinkedIn posts
  • Articles that you’ve written and published on LinkedIn
  • Links to your website, perhaps to an important page or your latest blog
  • Media including images, documents, and presentations
  • Videos; it’s the perfect place to show off your client videos and demonstrate the value of financial planning. We’ve not seen any financial planners do this, so if you have client videos, now’s the time to add them and stand out!

To add to the ‘Featured’ section:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Scroll down to the ‘Featured’ section
  • Click: The Plus icon (+)
  • Select: Either Posts, Articles, Links, Media and follow the instructions

To remove or reorder items in the ‘Featured’ section:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Scroll down to the ‘Featured’ section
  • Click: The edit icon
  • To reorder items: Use the drag and drop functionality by hovering over the three lines and moving items
  • To remove items: Click ‘Remove from featured’ and confirm your choice

Activity

This pulls through your latest posts, likes, shares, and comments and shows how active (or not) you are on LinkedIn.

There’s nothing for you to edit or change here when you’re building your profile.

Just remember that people who view your profile will make judgements based on what they see you’ve posted, said in comments, or shared with others. So, keep it relevant and professional!

Experience

This section of your profile is where you list current and previous roles.

Keep it relevant though to potential clients who might view your profile and use the section to highlight key achievements in those roles.

Use the same tools and techniques that you did in the ‘About’ section of your profile to make key points stand out for those people who skim your profile.

To make changes:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Scroll down to the ‘Experience’ section
  • Click the edit icon
  • Complete the sections as required

This section also allows you to add links to documents, photos, sites, videos, and presentations, which can be useful to showcase the work you’ve done or things you’ve achieved in a particular role. It’s also a great place to add client videos you might have produced to show the benefits of working with you.

Before clicking ‘Save’ you can choose whether or not to notify your network about the changes you’ve made. If you’re making basic tweaks to your profile, we’d recommend turning this off. However, if you’re changing jobs then leave it on. Just be careful with the timing though, you don’t want to announce your new role too early!

Education

This is an important section for financial advisers and planners to complete.

Again, you need to keep it relevant, but it’s a great place to highlight higher level accreditations such as being Chartered, a Fellow, or Accredited.

To make additions:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Scroll: Down to the ‘Education’ section
  • Click: The plus (+) icon
  • Complete the sections as required

You can even add links to your certificates in this section.

Again, you can decide whether or not to alert your network to changes. The same rules apply; if you’re making small amends, they probably aren’t worth announcing. If you’re adding your newly achieved Chartered or Accredited status, they certainly are!

Recommendations

We advocate using Google and VouchedFor to collect your online reviews. However, recommendations on LinkedIn will help to impress potential clients who make it down to the bottom of your profile.

The fact you can’t display ratings and reviews from other platforms on LinkedIn make recommendations on here all the more important. That said, we don’t currently see a time when LinkedIn recommendations become more important than Google or VouchedFor reviews away from the platform.

To request recommendations:

  • Sign in to LinkedIn
  • Click: ‘Me’
  • Click: ‘View Profile’
  • Scroll down: Down to the ‘Recommendations’ section
  • Click: ‘Ask for a recommendation’
  • Then type in the name of the person you are asking for a recommendation and follow the steps

Everything you need to build the perfect LinkedIn profile

If you’ve got a LinkedIn profile anyone can find it. That includes potential clients. Therefore, it needs to be as impressive as possible.

Our step by step guide and checklist is designed to help you do just that.

If there’s anything we’ve missed, please let us know. Likewise, if you need our help, please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or calling 0115 8965 300.

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