What’s the first thing you look at when you visit someone’s LinkedIn profile? If you’re like most people, your eyeballs immediately dart toward the photo and the headline. After all, that’s the spot where you can quickly glean the most information about who this person is and what he or she does.
As this heat map shows, our goldfish-like attention spans definitely come into play here—we want the low-down, and we want it fast.
Internet marketing research tells us that our eyes scan vertically, starting in the upper lefthand corner—if we’re interested enough in what we see, we’ll continue to scroll.
Based on this understanding, guess where the people piqued by that top quadrant of your profile will land next? Yep, your summary.
Unfortunately, not enough people think of their LinkedIn summary as a piece of the puzzle that deserves much attention. They either copy and paste a moldy old professional bio in there or—even worse—leave it completely blank. According to motivational speaker and branding specialist William Arruda, a blank summary is “like trying to build a website without a home page.”
However, it’s important to realize that your summary section is a chance to share a little bit more of your story and your personality, free from the constraints of the bullet points and sentence fragments in the rest of your profile. As Ninja Melissa S. eloquently explains, “If your LinkedIn profile is your resume, your summary is the cover letter.”
So, needless to say, you want to author a few paragraphs that accurately demonstrate how kickass you really are. If you’ve tried before and only wound up staring at that blinking cursor for half an hour, we’re here to help. We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you craft a LinkedIn summary that’s sure to do your awesomeness justice.
1. Share Your Personality
This is your chance to flex your creative muscles and offer a glimpse of your personality. This tactic is not only attention-grabbing, but it also allows profile viewers to get a better sense of what you’re all about.
“I’m looking for something that I can connect with—an interesting fact or quality that is not generic,” explains Melissa. To achieve that balance, share an anecdote about what led you to your career or some tidbits about your goals moving forward. But don’t limit yourself to just business talk.
“Show some personality and a sense of humor if you feel it’s appropriate. Most importantly, be authentic,” adds Ninja Maggie C. Finding little ways to sprinkle in personality is sure to take your summary up a notch.
One more important tidbit related to this? Make sure to write your summary in first person. There’s nothing worse than reading a stiff, formal paragraph that sounds like it’s straight from a corporate website. You’re a Ninja, not a robot.
2. Quantify Your Achievements
While you want your summary to sound friendly and personable, you still want it to be impressive. Pulling in some achievements and past successes is a great way to bring a few of your key accomplishments to the forefront.
That prestigious award you were recognized with or that important presentation you were tasked with creating? Make sure to include them so that they get the attention they deserve.
To make your accomplishments even more impressive, add numbers and figures when possible. “A great summary should have hard numbers,” explains Ninja Kiyomi D, “For example, you handled 15 projects at once with rolling deadlines or priorities, saved X amount of dollars, suggested various solutions and X% of them were implemented.”
3. Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their summaries is using them as an opportunity to repeat all the information already included elsewhere—such as a resume or the profile sections below the LinkedIn summary.
Remember, this is your chance to provide context by elaborating and expanding on those things—not repeating them. So resist the temptation of copy and paste.
If you’re blanking on ideas, consider explaining why you love what you do. Then you’ll have a natural segue to go on listing your biggest accomplishments, connecting your personality with your achievements.
4. Incorporate Recommendations
LinkedIn recommendations from others can be a great boost to your professional reputation. But there’s one problem: they typically appear way at the bottom of your profile. Unfortunately, this means they might go completely unseen.
Including your favorite recommendation as the lead-in to your summary is an effective way to get that glowing review a little more time in the spotlight. And, as Ninja Lauren Cole points out, it’s a tactic you can also employ on your resume.
“On my resume I put two quotes from my LinkedIn recommendations as the lead, then head into my qualifications,” she shares, “I let others with good titles speak for me.” Genius!
5. Keep It Short
Once you get rolling, it’s easy to come up with paragraph after paragraph of things you want to share with potential connections. But remember that your summary is designed to touch on the highlights—not every last minor detail of your professional history.
“Brevity is good”, says Ninja Emily V, “A brief statement of what you’re looking for (networking, job hunting, etc.), highlight a list of your skill sets, and something eye-catching at the start to draw the reader in.”
When in doubt, keep it short—two to three short paragraphs is about as long as you should go. After all, nobody has the time to sit there and read your War and Peace-length summary.
So stop ignoring your LinkedIn summary—it’s actually important for illustrating who you are as a professional—so it’s worthy of a little work and consideration.
Use these five tips, and you’re sure to craft a LinkedIn summary that actually represents your awesome Ninja self.
What’s the most attention-grabbing thing you’ve seen in a LinkedIn summary? Let us know in the comments!