LinkedIn: Where To Start (Again) *UNLEASHED*

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Revisiting that profile photo

Ok, so, if you read the last article that I did on this subject, then your profile image is a professional image. Good job. That is step one. And you’ve proven yourself to be coachable. And it even seems like a decent place to leave things at… professional. That’s what LinkedIn is for, right?

Right. *And* that’s like saying that because you act professional, you are automatically qualified for any profession. In reality, it is merely the least- and bare minimum- that you are expected to do. And that’s not what we’re up to here. So, what do you want to convey to your LinkedIn audience about yourself?

Luckily, has the answer. You can go to Photofeeler and submit a single or multiple photos of yourself to be evaluated by people just like you.  You can choose to be evaluated for business or social (for, like, your Tinder profile picture or something). For business, you get rated on being Competent, Likeable, and Influential. To get the ratings you can choose to rate other’s photos to earn “Karma” or just straight-up purchase credits.

Take a look at my results:

Also, on that same subject, LinkedIn has some newer features for profile pictures. Take a look at them below and remember that you want to use these tools to stand out in a good and professional way. ‘Nuff said.

Background images

Background images are not that tricky here, folks. You can stay generic and leave the LinkedIn blue background. It’s not as offensive as not having a profile picture, and it has the same flavor- so keep that in mind. The background image is your opportunity to add some flair to brand yourself. Personally, I chose a bold pattern that hints at my fire and femininity. And that might be total bullcrap. Point is, pick something bold and legible. I don’t recommend highlighting a hobby such as your personal interest in horses. Highlight something as a secondary piece of background information. It can also be a bold logo. Just make sure it is clearly identifiable and in focus. For example, if you are a sound engineer, an image of sound waves might be fun. In that case, use a free image licensing website like and search ‘sound waves’. From there, download your desired image (yes, it’s free! And yes, it is legal!). Then upload it to your LinkedIn background. Voila!

Creating your summary

Ok, here is where your personal branding goes on overdrive. This is your opportunity to really express who you are and what you want employers, colleagues, and potential clients to see. Show your personality. No one is interested in reading another summary about how results-driven you are, ok? If you are looking for a job and for your profile to be picked up by a recruiter, be aware of keywords they might be looking for. Use your SPECIFIC industry, as in: “Extroverted, Fun-Loving, Optometrist looking for an opportunity with a small, independent office near Blaine”, not “Vision specialist looking for an opportunity in the medical field.” And don’t be afraid to stick your neck out a bit to stand out. Talk about what values are important to you, making sure that those are also values that the right company will be looking for- don’t forget when job hunting it’s about them and what they need- not about you and your needs. Note: “Looking for an opportunity with upward mobility” is NOT a value.

Lastly, pick out your career highlights and add them here. The new LinkedIn profile is not encouraging for people to read beyond the Job Title and duration to see your individual experience descriptions. This may be your only chance to resonate with someone.

Customizing the rest of your profile to your objective

There are basically two schools of thought on this. If your objective is to be picked up by a recruiter or be seen by someone in human resources, copying your resume here is fine. Just make sure it is a good resume. Be highly aware of keywords and if you don’t know what they are, start by mirroring what is said in the job descriptions that you are interested in being hired for. You can Google any job description. I usually find three or four similar ones and see what words they have in common. A more fun approach to finding keywords? Copy and paste the job description to The larger words are the main keywords you would want to use repeatedly and appropriately in your profile. The usage and repetition will attract the computer algorithms that recruiters use to your profile. At least that is the theory.

Ok, the other school of thought:   You are someone who does Business to Business sales. You are independent. You need to impress potential clients. What you do here is open up more with a more conversational tone that is on-brand. Me? I want to work with people (retailers primarily) who are passionate and creative. Sometimes I am sarcastic and like to have fun. I don’t want people to be surprised about that when they meet me. So I have an extra casual approach to my job descriptions.

No matter which direction you chose to go, don’t forget that what is written on your LinkedIn profile is the person that an interviewer or potential client expects to show up in the flesh at some point. Make sure it reflects who you are and what you’ve done accurately. Duh.

Customizing your profile URL

Want to put your LinkedIn profile URL on a business card or resume? Does your profile URL end with something like /your-name-8343839b?

I used /myname99 as an easy one to remember as someone already had used /myname. A clever solution I have since run into is having it end as /sarahkowalsprofile or /sarahkowalslinkedin. Feel free to steal those (with your own name, please!)

To do this, you go to your profile while logged in.  Select ‘Edit public profile & URL’ to the right.

Ok, guys- this is where it starts getting truly magical. It can also get truly ugly. This last tip should not be abused. 

Ok, first just let me say “You’re welcome” in advance.

Uploading your entire LinkedIn connections 

This is a super bonus because LinkedIn doesn’t want you to do this very easily anymore. In the past, they removed any links to this page that I am about to share with you, and in the last year or so, they stopped populating the emails on the free version.

This may be the keys to a big, powerful kingdom for you. Here is why: If you are like me, you have a large LinkedIn network. I started playing with LinkedIn over 20 years ago and have connected with people in all three major metropolitan areas that I’ve lived in, in multiple industries along the way.

Take, for example, my startup project some years ago, WeatherVane Creamery. I was all alone with just my laptop wondering how to market my new startup. I had over 1,000 professional connections. I uploaded the email list and sent them all an email telling them what I was up to and invited them to vote on a logo. It had an amazing response.

Here is the magical thing you can do with your connections: once you have filled in the email addresses from their profiles (they used to be included on the file, not surprised LinkedIn removed it) you can upload all your contacts to MailChimp or Constant Contact in one fell swoop! You can also do the same thing to other services like I did with SurveyMonkey when I sent all of my contacts that logo survey.  Super slick.

Here’s how to access your LinkedIn Connections file:  Go to your Account and then Setting and Privacy.  From there, select the Privacy from the toolbar.  Scroll down to How LinkedIn Uses Your Data which has the choice to download your data, Getting a copy of your data.  From the “pick and choose” menu select Connections.  Request your download.  From there, you will receive an email shortly when it is ready!

From the link in the email, Export to Microsoft Outlook (.csv file) whether you use Outlook or not. When you open it, you can view it in Excel. A website like ConstantContact, MailChimp, or SurveyMonkey will want the contacts in the .csv format. You can also save it in Excel as well.

From the link provided in that email, Export to Microsoft Outlook (.csv file) whether you use Outlook or not. When you open it, you can view it in Excel. A website like ConstantContact, MailChimp, or SurveyMonkey will want the contacts in the .csv format. You can also save it in Excel as well.

From there, get your 1st connections email addresses from their profiles by clicking on their profiles HERE:

Then copy and paste their email addresses into your csv file.

So there it is- and like I said don’t abuse the power! Don’t spam people. Send them something that you would genuinely like to send to them individually. Use the tools for good- like keeping your professional relationships informed of what you have been up to PROFESSIONALLY. That is an appropriate use of LinkedIn. And, by using the kinds of websites that I mention above (Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Survey Monkey), your colleagues have the right to unsubscribe which is also appropriate. Don’t forget- it’s not personal, it’s business.

Happy LinkedIn-ing!!!