Clients from various industries often tell me how much they hate tooting their own horns. And even those who do enjoy promoting their accomplishments often struggle to do it eloquently.
So it’s not surprising that individuals from newbies to industry leaders reach out to writers like us to craft or polish their LinkedIn profiles.
A good copywriter can build a standout profile that catches attention, highlights the qualities that make your client truly unique, and provides proof of your client’s capabilities.
By steering the conversation with your client from the very beginning, you’ll be able to navigate these seven steps and deliver a truly effective LinkedIn profile for them:
1.) Dream build
When writing a LinkedIn profile, most writers tend to open with and prioritize information about a professional’s past work experience. But your client is hiring you to help pave a path to their future! Try to extract your clients’ visions of their career destination first. Do it casually. Be diplomatic. Disarm them and entice them to divulge their dreams. Allow them to briefly describe how they’d like to be perceived and what mark they’d like to someday make on their industry or business.
Ask them to write down how they would like to hear peers speak of them in the future, when they reach their career or life goal.
Note: If they hate to write, let them speak and you do the scribbling. This first step must be a pleasant icebreaker and trust forger — after all, you are about to become the keeper of their visions.
2.) Hunt role models
Once you know where your client is heading, ask them to name a highly admired industry leader who’s already gotten there. Whether you’re working for a dentist or an HR director, your clients will have role models… people whose skill and/or wisdom they admire professionally or personally.
If they aren’t forthcoming, you can suggest a leader or celebrity in the field, a person you believe — based on your dream building conversation — they would respect. The purpose of this step is to make a client comfortable in the “company” of leaders and influencers. Make sure the role model is a figure everyone in the field knows (or should know).
3.) Pinpoint strategic connections
The role model you choose will inform the spirit of the profile you’re about to write. But obviously you need to identify the strategic meat and bones of the profile.
Ask your client to name three of their LinkedIn connections (or, if they’re new to LinkedIn, target connections) that they would like to someday work for or collaborate with.
Skim these individuals’ profiles and any posted articles or comments for memorable buzzwords, opinions, or acclaim that can be referenced in the profile you’re writing to forge common ground between them and your client.
4.) Throw your ego on the table
Before you actually begin to write a bio or profile, throw your own ego on the table. I do this by showing them the first draft of an old, clumsily written, error-ridden bio from my student years. Then I compare it to my current website bio. We laugh at it together. I mention how many drafts it took to achieve the final one, remind them “writing is re-writing,” and then we move on to:
5.) The good, the bad, and the ugly
Most of your clients will have already written (or attempted to write) a bio for a CV, website, publication, or even LinkedIn. Ask for copies of all those attempts — whether successful or not. You’d be surprised how often the attributes or ambitions your clients most value are those they have the most trouble putting into coherent sentences! (It makes psychological sense, as the more emotionally attached we are to something, the less likely we are to perceive and describe it rationally.)
It’s always better to have more material and find the berries among the weeds, as my grammar prof used to say. And you will find some juicy tidbits if you request everything they’ve got. Now that your client has seen your worst drafts, they should feel comfortable sharing their own.
From this collection, sleuth out:
- your client’s aspirational image
- your client’s most uncommon attributes and accomplishments
- your client’s weaknesses as they pertain to their field
- your client’s tendency toward either narrow specialization or wide diversification within a field or fields
Now you’re ready to put a positive spin on everything you’ve discovered and gathered so far.
6.) Extract a quote
Before you begin to write, quickly research that role model your client chose, and find a quote that’s witty, instructional, or intriguing. Make sure the role model is an accomplished leader that your client’s strategic connections (Step 3) admire and emulate.
This simple but significant step will demonstrate that your client is:
- highly ambitious
- studious about industry trends and innovations
- humble and strategic enough to learn from the best
- passionate about their career choice
Always try to make your client sound informed, curious, and humble — all qualities any future employer, client, or collaborator would find attractive.
7.) Tell a story — backwards
When you finally sit down to write the profile, think like a marketing director but write like a professor. Meaning, weave the buzzwords and industry trends into a description of a career that sounds both pragmatic and in tune with the times, but with an ear for the philosophical trendsetter, the colorful storyteller.
Start off with the catchy quote from Step 6. Then mention your client’s attribute, accomplishment, or ambition that best reflects the spirit of that quote. Pairing the two at the beginning spotlights what sets your client apart. You’ll follow that with supporting details. Think of it as exposing the lesson of a folktale or the punch line of a joke first, then explaining how the main character arrived there.
A bold opening intrigues busy, hyper-stimulated professionals just enough for them to read further and discover the proof (skills, experience, gumption, references) that supports your client’s ambitious vision.
Try following these steps, then monitor your client’s LinkedIn network. Is it growing? Send me a note and share your results!