7 Tips to Making Your LinkedIn Profile Pop

How to make your Linkedin profile stand out.

Linkedin Networking
Use LinkedIn to build and expand your freelance business. Credit: Plume Creative | Getty Images

Being a freelancer who works by yourself from home, it's difficult to build up your professional network. You most likely do not spend much time with your peers, so you don't have the opportunity to sit next to influential co-workers at meetings or to plan an impromptu lunch with a mentor for a creative brainstorm. These types of meetings can be crucial to the longevity of your career, but, unfortunately, they are rare for remote workers.

Nevertheless, there is one place you can generate networking opportunities that doesn't require an in-person meet-and-greet: LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn professional networking service is a great way to keep track of people you know and research professionals you would like to meet. It’s also a tool used to recruit talent. Put plainly, “LinkedIn matters,” says Mary Ryan, associate director of career and leadership services for working professionals for UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Making a conscious effort to build your profile up, LinkedIn will help you generate networking opportunities that could lead you to a highly coveted freelancing gig. Ryan would know: She works closely with students enrolled in Kenan-Flagler’s online MBA program, MBA@UNC, to provide high-quality, actionable career and leadership guidance.

Below are seven strategies Ryan recommends to help make your LinkedIn profile pop.

  1. Use a professional recognizable picture. Not just any picture will do. Ryan suggests using a profile picture with a light background and making sure you are the only person in your picture. Your photo is a tool to help those you connect with remember who you are, and the more friendly and approachable you look, the better. Your photo acts as your first impression, so make it count.
  1. Highlight keywords in your professional headline. Ryan suggests adding keywords to your headline that relate to the types of jobs you are pursuing. Recruiters search by keyword, so this makes it easier for them to find you. However, don’t get carried away with your description —Ryan says to keep it at no more than two lines. For example, rather than simply state that you are a freelancer, be more specific about where your talents lie. If writing about sports marketing is your sweet spot, advertise that.
  2. Include all names you are associated with. This is something most people forget to do when creating their LinkedIn profiles. According to Ryan, it’s important to include any nicknames and/or your maiden name in parentheses next to your professional name. This will make you more searchable.
  3. List a broad location. Ryan says it’s better to err on the side of a broader location than a specific one. Instead of listing the suburb where you live, identify yourself with the city you are most willing to travel to for your career. Some businesses that hire freelancers want to be able to meet you in person for creative consulting purposes. The closer you are to them, the more likely you are to win the freelancing contract.
  1. Customize your URL. Having your name or business name in your LinkedIn URL looks more professional and makes it clear who the profile belongs to. This will make it easier to include your LinkedIn profile on your resume, as it will look cleaner.
  2. Quantify your successes. Ryan recommends highlighting your “awesome factor” in the experience section. To separate yourself from other LinkedIn users, include data to quantify your successes in a way that enhances the brief descriptions.
  3. Request authentic recommendations. It may take some more work, but getting honest and meaningful recommendations that speak to how valuable of an asset you are will make your profile stand out. Ryan suggests asking your recommenders to be specific and briefing them on your career goals.

Once your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, the next step is to personally engage with the people you want to meet online.

You can do so by joining groups to build your personal brand and by publishing content to start building up your network.