How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn

I’m not going to shy away from it… I love LinkedIn. I think it’s an amazing tool to network and promote your business or professional experience and achievements. Most of my clients are shocked to learn that I believe a LinkedIn profile is the first step to MBA admission success. A LinkedIn profile is definitely not a formal requirement for any business school application. From experience, though, I can guarantee that nearly every student, alumnus and admissions committee member that you touch base with will enter your name into a LinkedIn search bar to learn more about you– it’s just human nature. More importantly, it will probably be the first impression they have of you.

An effective LinkedIn profile is really easy to create. Let’s start by thinking about our audience. When someone visits your LinkedIn profile they want to learn about your professional and academic background and they most likely want to do so in a timely fashion. Being succinct is they key - a LinkedIn profile is not your resume…. it’s a teaser. Let’s examine how to attack the main components:

Profile Photo

Upload a professionally taken photo! It’s a great way to convey an appropriate image and can speak volumes about your personality. I can hear some of you saying: “but a professional headshot costs $100 - $200…”. In my opinion it’s definitely worth it, especially if you will be using LinkedIn for future business school and job applications. If such a cost isn’t feasible, though, consider using your current work photo or having a friend take a photo for you.

Profile Summary

Take the time to write a short well-structured description of your business practice. How short? A three to four sentence summary is the sweet spot. While the best structure will ultimately depend on your background and future goals a generic structure that works well is to address: (1) who you are, (2) your professional background, and (3) your areas of expertise and interests. Given that I used the MBA to make a career change from law to finance I currently use a structure that links the past to the present:

Summary

Experience

Add your professional experience with one-line descriptions of your specialisation:   

Experience

Education

Add your academic qualifications with majors and overall grades, linking any relevant accomplishments (honors, awards, and test scores):

Education

Overall, I’m a big fan of keeping LinkedIn profiles simple, clean and minimal as it allows viewers to absorb important information quickly and effectively. Don’t be scared of white space – sometimes less is more!