All the parts of your LinkedIn profile need to balance each other out and tell a cohesive story. Speaking in the correct tone is important in any situation. This is not something new – we have been networking with others since we first started kindergarten – only now we have different tools to do it with that are free, quick, comprehensive and dynamic. Let’s lean into the summary as the next step in our journey.
Don’t miss Part One in this LinkedIn series from Chris Kulbaba: How to craft a LinkedIn headline that will get you counted on, not out
Writing an effective summary
The summary is your opportunity to expand on the themes in your headline. The tone should be professional, but still showcase your personality. Keep in mind this is a social media channel; you are not here to inform, but to connect on a more human level. Taking a conversational tone will generate better results than a formal summary that appears to have been written by a marketing firm.
Here is what a client I worked with first wrote for his LinkedIn summary:
“I have achieved prominent levels of education in management reinforced by 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing. I hold a proven track record of delivering results, and I am a fast learner, who …” (This first part is what a potential connection sees in the public profile – this hopefully drives them to expand the profile.) “… believes in team building and empowerment.” (And this was what you waited to read.)
To me, this is ego-centric and does not explain value to the potential connection. The following summary makes the value of connecting more explicit:
“Spearheaded a drive to increase sales volume of $18 million (US), a 20% growth from previous year, through actively managing 12 distributors of three brands in four countries; In-market sales increased …” (scroll break here) “… across markets by 25% over the regular forecast.”
Just like when writing a resume, you must create appeal in the summary to encourage the potential connection to keep reading. LinkedIn allows only the first three lines to be displayed before expanding – roughly 300 characters or 50 words, depending on size. The total summary can be up to 2,000 characters (see full example below).
Remember to keep the language centric to business – numbers, achievements and descriptors that are quantifiable and not qualitative, when possible. Help the new connection(s) see the value you bring from the moment they interact with your profile.
Questions to ask when crafting a summary:
- Would someone not in my industry understand everything here?
- Who is my potential audience? (e.g. employer, network connection, business to business, etc.)
- Did I avoid acronyms where I could?
- Have I used numbers to show detailed statements?
- Did I include the moments in my career that I am really proud of?
- Would a first-time reader be able to identify the information I see as most valuable?
- Is my statement grammatically correct?
- Did I include anything personal in my summary that pertains to what I am looking for in the future?
- Can I prove these statements if I am asked to do so?
- Could I insert media further in the profile to back up my statements? (e.g. certificates, PowerPoint presentation, documents, awards, diplomas, communications, etc.)
- Does the language that I am using reflect who I am as a person? (As a career counsellor, I prefer to work on LinkedIn profile development with clients face-to-face, as this is a personal document and they need to be able to interpret what I have written.)
I rewrote the full summary example provided below about five times to get phrasing and communication in context while collaborating with my client – about 85% was what the client already had; I just helped them polish it.
A worthwhile investment
Your LinkedIn profile is a critical digital networking tool, although it is not strictly a sales tool. You want to be counted on by the employer or your connections as a value they can add to their business – not be counted out of the running before they talk to you. Taking the time to create a lasting profile is going to be the best exercise that you can take right now to complete your professional brand.
Now that we have expanded on writing a head line and creating a vibrant summary, we can discuss in more details the role of the practitioner in assisting to create these tools. The next article will contain considerations to hold when working with clients, specific structure and my own “unique strategy” of building the profile focused on a single branding word.
Client summary example
Spearheaded a drive to increase sales volume of $18 million (US), a 20% growth from previous year, through actively managing 12 distributors of three brands in four countries; In-market sales increased …” (scroll break here) “… across markets by 25% over the regular forecast.
The shipment forecast pace began slowing down because at the distributor level, the stock levels were above normal level (3 months’ inventory) and slow movement in trade. Our key season was approaching to increase sellout exponentially, so we went out with the sales team to meet buyers and made aggressive pre-season plans. As a direct result, the retail buyers trusted the plan and supported our activity. Leveraging the market analysis that we had to create a compelling story for the buyers drove these gains – this is a key metric of what I am able to do with each team or company that I have worked with. The last quarter shipment alone was $1 million over the regular forecast, helping the team to ship $18 million in 2015 vs. $15 million in 2014.
An ability to manage compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in sales is another key measure that I have demonstrated through taking a direct approach and utilizing my exceptional communication skills. Over three fiscal years, we were able to overcome aggressive competing brands by following up with regional team leaders to ensure all the marketing elements were deployed. So, from the point I took up the trade marketing responsibility to the end of the assignment, the CAGR grew 12%.
Marketing and sales are all about effective systems, and the plans and goals to achieve those targets are a professional measure that I can also clearly showcase. Purposely designed monthly sales targets that delivered at least 10% over last year’s sales – my team was known for winning 100% incentives every month. The key was to have a focused and motivated team to work with and achieve numbers and, to train and engage them in managing tasks alone, but when help was needed, I would be out in the front.