Creating a Compelling Presence on LinkedIn

Creating a Compelling Presence on LinkedIn

Presence is more than just being there – Malcolm Forbes

Take a good look at the headshot above. Congrats to the photographer who so beautifully captured this gentleman but also to the man himself for being so open, positive and brimming with energy.

What’s great about this photo? First, absolutely great lighting, of course. But then, so many other things came together. A well-tailored suit and crisp white shirt. He looks clean and neat even with a beard. He’s got a different pose – not full frontal which is awkward and kind of stiff most of the time. The tilt combined with the big and open smile makes the difference here. What comes across is energy, light and a positive spirit  – that with no words. Simply a visual which will lend to whatever else you see written on the profile. A clean and light coloured background is also an awesome factor because you now have a clean piece of real estate to insert any message you want – and you should.

In an earlier article, Do you need a LinkedIn profile today, I looked at why you need to be on the platform. I emphasised the need for both the creation of a compelling presence and the ability to capitalise on it. Let me expand on what it takes to create a compelling presence. Compelling – “interesting, able to capture and hold your attention. Strong and forceful, causing you to feel you must do something.”

On LinkedIn, you are able to view your profile, as a reader might but realise that what a connection might see is an expanded version of what others who are not connected to you might see. Leaving those issues aside, ask yourself these questions:
What will people who see my photo think?
What will people who see my headline (that often under-estimated piece of real estate just below my name) wonder about me?
What will distinguish me from the thousands of others in similar or related roles?
What do I want people to think when they see my profile and what can I do to make that a reality?

What are you trying to do by creating an effective LinkedIn profile? Three things.

First, you want to get noticed by potential employers or business partners in the industry as well as clients and prospects. Second, you want to tell people who you are, what you specialise in and how serious you are about your work. Third, you want to establish credibility through your credentials, your personal branding, the network you have built as well as the kind of content you put out.

It’s just a photo… or is it?
Many do not invest the time, effort and money to get their photos professionally taken, believing a selfie or a casually taken shot may suffice. I’ve seen wedding shots, party shots, over-exposed selfies and badly lit selfies, awkwardly positioned selfies, shots in the car and badly cropped shots being used as LinkedIn profile shots.

In itself,  it may do little damage. But when you are working to establish a certain level of professionalism in all of your work, then it is all the little things that together create a picture of who you are. This means, all these seemingly unimportant choices you make do add up. And they lead to a reduction in the quality of your final offering. The gains may not be easily quantifiable but neither you nor I should underestimate the power of first impressions.

My headline screams…
This is the second most important part of your profile, after your photo. It is sheer waste for you to use this area purely to insert your job title and company name as many default towards. This represents your chance to tell people about your passion and expertise. Like your summary, this is the space for you to showcase your personality and differentiate yourself.

Here are three things you can do with this space. First, use it to focus your reader on your expert status – whatever that may be. Second, draw attention to your niche (yes, you should have one). Or third, sell yourself or your service, in a clever yet professional way.

A picture paints a thousand words

The background header image is another often under-utilised spot. The beauty of this space is that it is large, incredibly well-positioned (the first thing you see) and visual, allowing you to break the monotony of text, with a pop of colour. Those who understand the value of this space use it to convey a message or sell their product/service. As you can see from the headline image above, your photo can be used as both your profile shot as well as incorporated into your background header together with a message.

You don’t need to be an author or own a business to use this space well – you only need apply creativity to come up with great ideas about how to leverage this spot and make it uniquely yours.

Design-centred approach

Increasing the number of visuals into what is an incredibly text-heavy space will give your reader some room to breathe:

  • ensure that all Pulse posts written include a good quality and relevant image headlining the article. These are immediately visible when readers check your profile;
  • find ways to include some media as part of your summary and work experience – these too are clearly visible;
  • include visuals under “Publications” if you have written something or gotten it published. This is now very possible with self-managed platforms popping up everywhere and the increase and widespread acceptance of guest posts.
  • these visuals could be infographics, pdf documents, slideshares, powerpoint presentations as well as images.

The all-important summary

While bullet points are great, readers may gloss over them. This is not your resume, it is far more than that. The summary is your best opportunity to tell people who you are and to infuse your personality. This has to be more than where you work and what you do. You are also far more than a series of skillsets.

So, what should you do?

  • present yourself here in the first person. Don’t talk about yourself in the third person because it creates distance between you and your reader;
  • tell a story;
  • you need a call to action. You decide whether you want your reader to check out a site, download a doc, email or give you a call;
  • be very focused on your specialities – allow people to zoom into a few things only;
  • relevant keywords should be embedded within the summary. These could be related to the areas you specialise in, industry terms, potential clients or types of organisations you are keen to work with.

In the end, a LinkedIn profile provides your digital presence which means that people still need to contend with the real you. In person, this will manifest itself in conversations – in how you come across, how you speak and how you behave. Your ‘presence’ only takes you so far. And for those who maintain online connections, given time and how you communicate as well as the relationship you develop with others, your personality and character too will eventually reveal itself.

If you like this post, I hope you will share it. If you need help with your writing, with getting published or with strengthening your brand, feel free to reach out. Let’s have a chat.

#linkedin #personalbrand #presence
Photo of Men black coat wtih white polo shirt by  Mali Maeder via

2 Replies to “Creating a Compelling Presence on LinkedIn”

  1. […] to be effective on LinkedIn.  I’ve looked at whether you need a LinkedIn profile and then, creating a compelling presence.  I’ve also touched on how to start a conversation with someone new on LinkedIn. Here, […]

  2. […] There are many things you can do to your LinkedIn profile that will help you attract the right kind of attentionincluding: […]

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