Sep 20 / Matt Saunders

How to Optimise your LinkedIn Profile

No longer just a place filled with corporate water cooler chat, LinkedIn is now the go-to platform to generate leads as a freelancer. Learn how to optimise your LinkedIn presence so you can get in on the action.
LinkedIn is no longer the stuffy, corporate place it once was.

What started out as an online resume site is now a rich and diverse ecosystem of specialist service providers, progressive conversation and positive motivation. 

And with the right profile, it could drive more leads to your business than you can handle!

I've generated almost £30k of business through the platform in the first 4-5 months of 2023 alone. In this article I'm going to share with you my key tips to optimise your LinkedIn profile as a freelancer.

But before we go on, please take a moment to connect with me here.

First things first: always keep your ideal client in mind

Man thinking at laptop
As I share my LinkedIn profile optimisation tips with you, please keep in mind this advice: always write for your ideal client.

Way too many people make their profiles all about themselves. Of course, LinkedIn as a platform directs you this way by asking you to share your thoughts, bio and work history. But the general principle to hold in mind is that nobody really cares about you unless it chimes with their own experience.

So consider each and every part of your profile from the vantage point of your ideal client.

How to create a great first impression on LinkedIn

LinkedIn header screenshot
Yup, I love LinkedIn in dark mode 💤
Your LinkedIn header is the first portion of your profile that visitors see. Let's break it down section by section:

Your profile banner

In terms of pure real estate, the banner claims the biggest space in your LinkedIn profile header. Therefore, it makes sense to give this due attention. As banner designer Danny Townley says "if you're not reliably signing new business on LinkedIn, it’s usually the Profile that's letting things down"

To make sure you're not leaving money on the table, include the following in your LinkedIn banner:

  • Your branding/logo - doesn't need to be fancy, but does help to establish your authority quickly
  • The primary "thing" you do - it could be your course, your service or something else relevant to you
  • Some call to action - visit your website, book a call etc

As a rule of thumb try not to cram too much in and show only the most important information. People don't need to know everything about you, but covering the basics is wise.

Also, if you're not a professional designer, pay a designer to create your banner. It's worth it.

Your profile picture

I am going to state the obvious and say that your LinkedIn profile picture should be an actual, up to date picture of you. Not a cartoon character or your favourite musician.

It doesn't need to be traditionally "professional", but try to save your night out pictures for Facebook.

To optimise your profile and prompt the best response from visitors, consider the following:

  • Look directly at the camera - eye contact creates connection
  • Smile!
  • Remove background noise
  • Get a professional headshot, if possible

LinkedIn OpentoWork frame
Think twice before applying the #OpenToWork frame
Should you include the "open to work" banner on your LinkedIn picture? I personally choose not to do this. I help my clients build a fully booked business where availability is scarce. Being "open to work" can signal that you're waiting around for business, which is not the impression that I personally want to create for myself or my clients.

Your profile headline

The headline is the one-liner that sits underneath your picture. This is your opportunity to quickly let people know what you do and who/how you help. Here are a few headline tips:

  • Don't cram everything in - keep it simple
  • Use emojis if you like - they can add impact, but don't overdo it
  • Don't try to find the "perfect" headline - embrace iteration and change it as frequently as needed (mine changes often and nobody bats an eyelid)

Consider this additional question: what do you want to be KNOWN for? Some of the most successful creators on LinkedIn are known for offering something very specific to their audience. Think about Chris Do or Simon Sinek. They're both known leaders in their respective industries.

Dial into your core offering and lay it out here.
Chris Do LinkedIn tagline
"Helping left-brainers, think right" 👌 mwah!

Your profile link

You can now place a single link in the header of your LinkedIn profile. As this is still a relatively new feature on the platform, you'll note that many users have yet to do it. But they're missing out!

Let's get into the head of your ideal client for a moment. They've glanced at your banner, read your headline and looked into your eyes: what's the next step you would like them to take?

Your link could point to your portfolio, your newsletter or a calendar booking link. You don't have to put a link on your profile, but it helps to get people away from the LinkedIn platform and into your own ecosystem. This is a key component in building your business without reliance on any single platform.
Related video: How to attract your ideal client on LinkedIn

How to write your LinkedIn bio

LinkedIn bio screenshot
Many people mistakenly use their bio space to talk about themselves. And they often do in some weirdly formal third person voice.

Matthew studied design at university where he gained a 2:1 before embarking on his first role at an office supplies company and... 🥱

Here's my rule of thumb for how to write a LinkedIn bio that actually resonates with your ideal customer:

  • Talk about yourself sparingly (in just the first line)
  • Use the rest to press on your client's pain points and aspirations
  • Demonstrate authority by sharing a client result
  • Show empathy by sharing an anecdote or client story
  • Finish on a call to action

Keep in mind too, that LinkedIn uses the content here (and elsewhere) in its search algorithm, so be sure to pepper in a few keywords and phrases that you'd like to be found for in search results. But as always, write for people, not algorithms. 

What to put in the experience section on LinkedIn

To me, the LinkedIn work experience section feels like a hangover from its previous life as an online resume site. Don't get me wrong, this section still has value if you're applying for jobs through the platform, but for freelancers and business owners, it doesn't offer much insight.

Yes, it shows people what you've been up to, but remember our golden rule: your LinkedIn profile should be focused on your ideal client, not you.

Use this section to demonstrate how you've created value for others. Don't simply reel off your roles and responsibilities - link your skills and achievements directly to how you currently help your clients. This will create a much stronger impression and optimise your profile for search results.

And if your work experience is no longer relevant, delete it. I worked at McDonalds in 2001 but you won't find it on my LinkedIn CV.

General LinkedIn optimisation tips for freelancers

I'm no "LinkedInfluencer" but the platform has worked well for me over the past 18 months. Here are my key takeaways that you can use to leverage your profile and start building your business on LinkedIn:

  • Do cold outreach - magic happens in conversation, and when you speak with people in the DMs they're more likely to see your posts in their feed (that's the algorithm at work again)
  • Follow influencers, companies and groups in your niche. This tells the LinkedIn algo what you're all about.
  • Develop a daily practice of commenting, liking and sharing content on the platform so you create consistency in your business. If you want to know how to generate leads on LinkedIn, this is the way to go.
  • Don't focus on or complain about algorithm changes or what others are doing too much. Trends come and go, but your mission remains the same.
  • Consider leveraging LinkedIn automation to take your game to the next level
  • Get out of your comfort zone and create varying types of content such as videos, slides and polls. The more you engage with the platform, the quicker you will figure out what works for you.

So these are my LinkedIn profile optimisation tips! If you put all this into practice, you will see more results from the platform without too much extra effort. And trust me, as a solo business owner in 2023, investing your time here to build your community will pay off massively in the years to come.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have a LinkedIn profile optimisation checklist I can take a look at?

You are in luck! As part of my group coaching programme I have my clients tighten up their profile and start connecting on a regular basis. Here's a free copy of my LinkedIn optimisation checklist along with some great profile examples.

How to make your LinkedIn profile attractive

In this age of bootstrapping it can be tempting to design your LinkedIn profile yourself. If you're in the early days of your LinkedIn journey, this can be a great option. Simply customise some a Canva template and off you go. But if you're ready to get serious growing on LinkedIn, investing in working with a designer and copywriter to spruce up your LinkedIn profile can make it much more attractive to potential clients.

How do I get my LinkedIn profile noticed?

There's little point in optimising your profile only for nobody to visit it. The quickest way to get views on your LinkedIn profile is to comment on the accounts of big creators. 

Seek out the accounts that get hundreds of comments on their posts. Be one of the first to comment when they release new content. Commit to doing this every day to 10-20 accounts and not only will your profile views increase, you'll also gain new followers and connections.
Above: if you want to know how to increase profile views on LinkedIn, get commenting!
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