4 Key Elements of a Killer LinkedIn Summary

{Click here to read the original article on TheMuse.com.}

You’re smart, effervescent, and frankly so darned funny that people gravitate toward you on humor alone.

Why, then, does your LinkedIn summary read like something out of Professor’s Crabapple’s dry, outdated textbook from that Career Prep 101 class you once took?

My guess is that your answer will be one of the following:

  1. Someone has convinced you that you have to be uptight and boring in order to come across as a viable professional.
  2. You slapped that LinkedIn profile up three years ago and haven’t revisited the summary since.
  3. You agonized over what to say, and then decided it’s best to err (way) on the side of caution.

For the love, people. Your LinkedIn summary is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate you’ve got when it comes to showcasing your authentic, genuine, and amazing self. It’s the place at which you get to be more personal than, say, on your resume or in a job application. It’s where you get to lay down, if you choose to, an incredible, original first impression to recruiters, decision makers, potential clients, and the universe of other professionals who are going to head to LinkedIn first when they want to “check you out.”

So don’t squander this moment.

You want a killer LinkedIn summary? Make sure it’s these four things.

1. Engaging and Original

This section is, truly, your playground. You have 2,000 characters available to you – use them to tell your story, in your own words. What do I mean by “tell your story?” I mean, take the opportunity to showcase who you are as a professional and what makes you interesting, memorable, and extraordinary. Begin with a captivating hook and then reel the audience in with your authentic narrative.

For instance, instead of beginning with:

Detail-oriented business analyst with strong problem-solving skills.

How about:

I was the kid who didn’t break apart my Rubik’s cube so that I could get all the colors lined up – I was the kid who solved it. And I’ve not stopped taking on impossible, beat-your-head-against-the-wall challenges since.

2. Written in the First Person

LinkedIn is designed to facilitate conversation between people. And it’s far easier for visitors to your profile to imagine having a conversation with you when you write the summary in the first person. Yes, go ahead, leave in the “I’s,” the “me’s,” and the “my’s” in your LinkedIn summary. This conversational tone will resonate with your current and potential connections so much better than if you pontificate your entire summary in the third person.

3. Angled Toward the Specific People You Care About the Most

Before you write a single word in that summary, ask yourself this question:

Who am I talking to?

If you have no idea who you’re most interested in influencing (and what they’re going to be looking for), it will be a lot harder for you to craft a message that showcases you in a way that aligns with your most important audience. Are you most interested in attracting the attention of a recruiter? A potential client? Someone else? And what will this audience want or need to know about you? How will you capture their attention?

Remember that your entire LinkedIn profile is a marketing document, one that showcases your professional strengths to a specific audience.

Who is the audience to whom you’re marketing your talents?

4. Clear on What You Want the Reader to Do Next

It’s called a summary section, but by all means, don’t simply use the LinkedIn summary to outline who you are; spell out to your network or visitors what you’re looking to accomplish, and what you’d like for them to do next. Give them a call to action. Obviously, it you’re a covert job seeker, you don’t want to bust out a call to action like, “I’m actively seeking new career opportunities. Please contact me.” However, you can be pretty clear on what you’d like to happen next, without outing yourself.

And again, it can be engaging (and, yes, even humorous). Consider something like:

I’m always looking for a new problem to solve, so if you’ve got a doozy you need hand with, feel free to contact me directly at joesmith@gmail.com.

Don’t be afraid to take your LinkedIn summary to places never mentioned in a textbook or at some dull, excruciatingly long workshop. Yes, you want to get the messaging and key words aligned with your key goals and most important audience. Yes, LinkedIn is a professional platform.

But by no means does that mean your summary has to bore the pants off the universe.

The universe needs its pants.

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