What’s Next in: Accelerating Your LinkedIn Profile


5 Ways to Unlock Your LinkedIn Profile

Recent years have seen LinkedIn evolve from a virtual job board and recruitment tool to a platform for sharing thought leadership content. Thus, the goal of creating a LinkedIn account has shifted from simply finding a job or job candidate to becoming a top voice in your industry.

Establishing yourself as a thought leader may sound like a big undertaking but starting on that path consists of taking just a few small steps. Below are five easy ways you can start to unlock your LinkedIn profile.

1. Update Your Profile Photo

Those who consume your thought leadership content will want to put a face to your name. Leveraging the platform’s profile photo option is key. LinkedIn research reveals that the presence of a profile picture on your account makes others 14 times more likely to view your profile.

Use a current headshot in which you are wearing your typical work attire. Outfit expectations vary by industry and role, and you’ll want your photo to reflect an accurate level of formality. For example, aSenior Vice President at a large bank might dress more formally than the Creative Director of a boutique graphic design firm. Their respective photos should reflect this.

A smile can go a long way in boosting credibility. A 2023 study of 800 profile pictures found that people smiling in their profile picture are viewed as more likable, competent, and influential than those with a more serious expression. Show those pearly whites! The study found those who show teeth in their smile are perceived as twice as likable as those who smile with a closed mouth.

2. Leverage the Banner Photo Feature

While you’re updating LinkedIn photos, don’t forget your banner photo! LinkedIn’s banner photo feature is your opportunity to distill your mission into a clear, digestible takeaway for people who stumble upon your profile.

Your banner photo might depict your company logo, a mantra or mission statement, the skyline of your geographic location, or the tools of your trade. Whatever you choose, you'll want to select a clean, visually appealing image that fits your personal and professional brand.

3. Employ a Conversational Summary Statement

As LinkedIn’s purpose shifts from an online resume to a thought leadership website, users increasingly share personal stories on the platform and update their profiles to match the human-first vibe. Your profile’s “About” section is a great place to show your personality via a conversational summary statement.

Your summary statement is an opportunity to introduce and define yourself on your own terms, free from employer-imposed titles and job start and end dates. It’s a chance to highlight your interests, achievements, and strengths.

The most effective summary statements make connections between the LinkedIn user’s career journey, their passions and hobbies, and the larger impact of their work (find examples here).

4. Clean Up Your Work History

Just as you would never submit a resume to a prospective employer that you had not proofread and edited, you want to ensure the“Experience” section of your LinkedIn profile is tidy and accurate. Review your work history to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors and that the job descriptions highlight relevant responsibilities and accomplishments.

A clean "Experience” section illustrates your attention to detail and eloquence and can help you seize opportunities to influence and connect. Readers of your thought leadership content are likely to check your work history to confirm your status as a subject matter expert.

5. Start Following Industry Leaders

While we’re on the topic of industry leaders, you’ll want to follow them for inspiration. Note the tone of industry leaders’ posts. Is it friendly? Authoritative? Which posts seem to generate the most engagement? How often do they post? Industry leaders’ LinkedIn activity can serve as a template for you to follow as you embark on your thought leadership journey.

Top industry figures are arbiters of industry trends. They might share views and content that can inform your perspective. The news articles and LinkedIn posts they share are wonderful opportunities for engagement. A “like”, a comment, or reshare can open the door for further dialogue with like-minded members of your field.

Level Up Your LinkedIn

Updating your profile and banner photos, crafting a conversational summary statement, fine tuning your work history, and following industry leaders are things you can do right now to optimize your LinkedIn profile. An optimized LinkedIn profile lays the foundation for your rise to thought leader.

Once you’ve taken the first steps toward unlocking your LinkedIn profile, The Next Practice can help you leverage LinkedIn to become a top voice in your industry. Click here to learn more about our Top Voice Accelerator and schedule a time to meet with us today!

Joel De La Garza
Director, Strategy & Engagement
Alannah Dragonetti
Content Specialist