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A Guide to an Effective CEO LinkedIn Profile

I'm one of those people on LinkedIn every week, looking at status updates, news articles, profiles of connections, searching for potential referral partners and more.  And I can say, with proven consistency and honest conviction, the role in companies that need the MOST help on LinkedIn is the CEO.

I mention this to most CEOs I meet, and often they reply:
"LinkedIn is not important because I have a great job.  I'm not looking for a new one."

And immediately I realize they don't understand the "secret stalking" that goes on in business.  EVERYONE tries to check you out on LinkedIn before you meet.

And first impressions, as you know, go a long way.

But even those CEOs who have a LinkedIn account don't realize the influence their profile has on the perception of them AND their company.  A bad CEO LinkedIn profile can do more damage to the company than a good one can help.

So what does a good CEO LinkedIn profile look like?  And how can a busy person like a CEO fix a bad profile and maintain it going forward to optimize the value it can bring for both them and the company professionally?

Well, if these are your questions, then you're reading the right article.  I'm going to break it down step-by-step for you.

In this article, I will:

  1. Identify the six most important items in your profile and how just five hours initially and one hour per week ongoing can bring you the most value from your profile.
  2. Provide you examples of effective CEO profiles and break them down to show you what you need to do to be effective too.
  3. Show you how you don't even have to do this work.  You can outsource it to a member of your marketing team or possibly a contracted resource.

6 Important Features of LinkedIn

So let's talk about where you start.  There's so much you can do with your free LinkedIn profile it's easy to feel paralyzed and not do anything.  But we're going to focus on the six things you MUST do with your profile to make an effective impression.

1. Headshot and Cover Photos

These are arguably the most important aspects to an effective CEO profile.  Your headshot, for example, will be seen throughout LinkedIn in search results, "People You May Know" suggestions and more.  It's important that you make sure your photo BEST represents who you are and how you lead your company.  

Make sure it's clear, in focus and with good contrast. When it comes to your cover photo, pick an image that is striking in appearance, represents a part of you in a creative way, and works well in a very horizontal format.

I've seen some CEO head shots that were cropped out of other photos, or shown them doing things unbecoming a CEO.  Recognize what your photos are saying about you, your company and how you run it.

2. The Profile Summary

Don't let this be wasted space.  It's too important! Your summary needs to share your passions, skills, unique qualifications, and how all of this has made a difference to the companies you've worked for.  (The last point here is what people really want to know).

via LinkedIn: Wade Burgess

Use measurable statistics to illustrate this (e.g. grew sales by 26%, reduced overhead by 55%, etc). As a CEO, all positive statistics for the companies you lead are fair game.  Stick to 3-5 paragraphs and write in the style you speak.  If you are laid back and funny, then write that way.  If you are all business and use industry jargon, then write that way.  If you have videos, LinkedIn will let you add them. End with your specialties, and make sure you have someone proofread it for you!

3. Connections

According to most recent statistics, 80% of all B2B leads come through LinkedIn.  This indicates that having many connections are very important. Surprisingly, what's more important than quantity of connections is quality of connections.  You want to make sure that every person you are connected with on LinkedIn is someone for which you can both make a referral for as well as ask for one.  

This requires you invest in your current connections.  Those that are important to your business growth must be continually nurtured.  Those connections that have fallen out of the rules above, need to be pruned from your account.

In addition, never accept a connection request from someone you don't know (even better to not accept one from someone you haven't met in person).  And make sure you send personal notes when you are trying to initiate connections - not just the canned message in LinkedIn.

The key as a CEO is to make your LinkedIn connections work for you and your company when needed.

4. Past Job Experiences

Past job experiences give you the chance to prove you're not a "one hit wonder" by showing you have been able to have a positive impact on multiple organizations.  It puts you in a better light at your current job. 

Make your experience descriptions similar in style to your profile description, but more succinct and direct (and obviously, specific to that position).  Show enough positions to illustrate your tract to your current position and no further back.

5. Written Articles

This is one of the important "secrets" in a CEO's LinkedIn profile.  It's important to have (and continue to add) good content on your LinkedIn profile.  People want to hear what you think on topics you claim to be an expert in (and this is a chance to show them that you are).

Don't get bogged down in the length of the articles (or if you really even write them for yourself or not).  But create content that answers important questions in your industry, and can be done through video, articles, outlines, or whatever works for you.  It's important that you have at least 2 of these articles in your profile, but if you can get two, don't stop there. Keep sharing your thoughts on topics that are important to you and to your company's clients.

If you aren't sure what those topics could be, or if you don't have time to write them, consult with your marketing team and get them involved.

6. Recommendations

Recommendations are the last of the six most importance aspects of a CEOs LinkedIn profile, but not in the way you think.  Certainly receiving recommendations are a great thing to show because we all know that 3rd party endorsements are better than what we ever can say about ourselves.

But what tells about the quality of CEO you are is the quality of recommendations you give.  Show people that you understand and value those who you work with. Show people that you understand that you are just the quarterback of a larger, successful team.  It will do wonders for your business.

Examples of Great CEO Profiles on LinkedIn

So, we've broken down aspects of what makes a great CEO LinkedIn profile, but now I want to share some examples of some of my favorites  (because I know many of us are "visual" learners).

Take each of these as just good overall examples -- not as something that has to be copied.  Be original!  Do your own thing, and realize that at the end of the day, the power of a digital medium like LinkedIn means you can change your profile whenever you want, as much as you want!

Download my 5 favorite CEO samples by clicking the link below.

So How Do You Get Started?

With this much information, it's easy to think that improving your LinkedIn profile is something you can't move forward with, and honestly that can't be farther from the truth.  The key is to reference the examples we've provided to not have to reinvent the wheel, and lean on others for help.  

Use Your Marketing Team

The CEO's LinkedIn profile should absolutely be a part of the company's overall strategy, so if you are having problems getting your profile up to date and / or adding new content, you should lean on them to do that.

Authoring new content on your behalf, sharing posts from the company, sharing articles from other thought leaders -- those are things you can rely on someone in marketing to do for you. 

Outsource to a Marketing Expert

If you don't have a marketing team in-house, that doesn't mean you are out of luck.  Outsource it to another marketing expert.  But if you do that, make sure it integrates with and supports all of your company's other marketing strategies.

Outside experts will bring fresh ideas to the table and will absolutely remove the burden you feel to address this important piece of your personal and corporate marketing efforts.

What other ideas do you have?  If you are a CEO, I would love to hear how you have leveraged your LinkedIn account and how you have kept it up to date.

And as always, if there is anything our marketing firm can do for you, just message me on LinkedIn.  I would be happy to have a conversation to see if we could help you.



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