Regularly updating and refreshing your LinkedIn profile ensures you get the most out of one of the world’s leading networking platforms. Whether you are seeking a new job or hoping to expand your client base, LinkedIn can help effectively promote your services, display your expertise, link you with key business connections, and generate business leads.

Many users still limit LinkedIn to simply duplicate their bulleted paper resume online. It is infinitely more effective, however, to present a more thoughtful professional picture to potential clients. Developing a profile that conveys your unique voice, personality and skillset is key to standing out.

Start with a Catchy Headline

The headline for your LinkedIn profile appears just below your name. It is the first thing to come up in search results, group discussions and feeds. You can leave it as your current job title, or regularly edit it to succinctly and appealingly describe what you do and what current services you offer.

An eye-catching headline should be less than 120 characters and include industry keywords. Your headline should entice readers to learn more about you.

Compose a Compelling Summary
The summary in your LinkedIn profile is your elevator pitch. It should include three to five concise paragraphs highlighting your background, qualifications, area(s) of expertise and a call to action or information on how to contact you.

Your LinkedIn summary should include the most interesting information about you and your services. Regularly update it to showcase your latest and greatest accomplishments, your unique values and passions related to the industry, etc. Keep it original and creative, expressing your personal voice in a compelling, professional way. Write your summary as though it is the only thing people might read.

Highlight Your Most Relevant Experience

Many individuals often just copy and paste bullet points from their resume into the job experience section of LinkedIn. It is more effective to list your most relevant professional experiences with two to three sentences describing what was achieved for each company or client. Provide specific examples of how any soft skills provided value.

Consultants may want to sort work experience into categories or types of work performed. For example, “SEO Expert” could be one category (filled out in the “company name” field). The title field could define your role as an “Independent Contractor” or “IT Consultant.” Include a brief summary of various projects that fit into each category. Be sure to highlight all of the technologies you have experience with, how they were used, the size of your team, what ticketing system was utilized, etc.

Consultants can also sort work experience by client. If you have spent many years with or completed a variety of projects for one company, this might be a better approach. You can list each client’s name in the “company name” field, your role in the “title” field and outline accomplishments in the “description” section.

Make sure that any job or project information you publish does not violate a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed with a particular client.

Include Skills and Endorsements to Build Credibility

The skills section is where you can list specific industry-relevant skills. Keywords are important here to ensure your profile comes up in relevant searches.

Endorsements can also be included in this section. They serve as testimonials to your expertise and work. Ask past clients to provide recommendations for your work. Be sure to return the favor, endorsing companies or other independent contractors you have worked with.

Add Rich Media to Showcase Your Skills

LinkedIn allows professionals to showcase particular work products within the work history or “accomplishments” sections. Be sure to keep these updated with recent examples of your work, such as impressive presentations, videos, web pages, campaigns, etc. Adding tangible examples of your work boosts your profile, showing potential clients the true depth of your experience and expertise.

Also include links to supporting URLs or other professionals with whom you may have collaborated on projects.

Make Connections to Expand Your Network

Once you’ve optimized and updated your LinkedIn profile, you can focus on making connections to expand your network. Start with people you already know. Linking with past and present colleagues, current and past clients, and industry leaders can quickly help you reach the LinkedIn benchmark of 500+ connections. Reaching this benchmark will increase the frequency that you appear as a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connection when people view your profile – and makes it more likely your posts will be viewed and shared.

Avoid getting too caught up in the numbers game on LinkedIn, however. Instead, focus on building a network of real connections. Connecting with those on LinkedIn who really know you and your work will produce more meaningful communications, links and prospects. When reaching out to new connections, be sure to include a quick personal note highlighting why you’d like to connect, what you have in common, or how you know the individual.

Link your blog or website to your LinkedIn account so relevant news and business updates will be shared with your LinkedIn community. Active involvement in groups can help boost your connections, as well. Liking, linking, reposting, and commenting on content can help to expand your network.

Publish Content to Build Leads

Publishing original articles and content related to your industry on LinkedIn is a proven way to generate leads. LinkedIn drives more than 50% of all social media traffic to B2B websites.

You don’t have to wait to publish content until you know more than everyone else. Start establishing yourself as a thought leader by simply writing about what you know best. Link to your website at the bottom of each article to help drive social traffic.

LinkedIn can be an excellent resource for finding that dream job or client. Taking time to craft a thoughtful, compelling profile ensures you get the most of your online network. Looking for your next consulting gig? Contact us to today to discuss your skills and goals.