Step by step instructions on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile. Volterra founder Andrew Jenkins shares how to use LinkedIn for creating your personal brand,  networking, thought leadership, marketing, and job-searching.



Andrew Jenkins & Volterra

LinkedIn profile quote Andrew Jenkins

Talk About Talk & Dr. Andrea Wojnicki


TRANSCRIPT – How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: Thank you so much, Andrew, for joining us here to talk about LinkedIn.

ANDREW JENKINS: You’re very welcome. I’m glad to be here.

AW: I’m going to start by asking you about the objective or the purpose. So why would we want a LinkedIn account?

ANDREW JENKINS: In this day and age where connections are all the more important – virtual or otherwise, and in this new world of work, and having to rely on digital networking to replace offline networking, I think people need to be more conscious of the power of network transparency. And this, if you want to call it the social graph, if I’m on LinkedIn, I now know who you know, your network is transparent to me. And so I can say to you, according to LinkedIn, you know, so and so would you be comfortable in introducing me? Or is it okay, if I reached out to them and say that you actually recommended me? There’s no more effort on your part. That network transparency is something that is often overlooked or never thought of or considered. And that’s just one aspect of the overlooked value of LinkedIn.

AW: So would you say that LinkedIn has become a more necessary and more important tool?

ANDREW JENKINS: Oh, very much so. And we’ve seen just with clients that we work with, and so on a rise in activity on LinkedIn, and 85% of jobs are filled through networks, not through job postings. So if you’re not networking, I’m sorry, it’s going to be particularly challenging. And you know, I’ve been mentoring some people. And as part of that mentorship, I tell them connect with me on LinkedIn, and look in my network. And I reached out to six different people on my network that they had identified as people they would like to talk to. Six out of six, I said, I have this person that I’m assisting and mentoring. They have identified you as someone they’d like to speak with, from a networking information gathering, (but not asking for a job just wanting to talk). And all six said, Yes, yeah. And they’ve all had virtual or just either zoom or phone conversations with them. And I mean, not everyone is that receptive. But this is the new reality. And so we have to up our digital networking skills, and perhaps get a little bit out of our comfort zones of cold calling people in a digital way.

AW: But what you described there, I think it’s not really what I would call cold calling, right? It was more warm calling it’s through another person. And that’s probably why they were receptive. So what I heard in your answer about the purpose of object or objective of LinkedIn, then is that it serves to help us in job searches, of course, you mentioned, but really, it’s the network. It’s the connecting.

ANDREW JENKINS: Well, it’s an often-used phrase that your network is your net worth.

AW: I like that.

ANDREW JENKINS: But for me, personally, I owe my career to LinkedIn. So from my perspective, I describe it as not, even for sales teams that I’ve trained, and other speaking engagements where I’ve talked about LinkedIn, I’ve said, LinkedIn is not necessary for a job search, or it’s a place to make valuable connections. And the sooner you equate making a connection on LinkedIn, to something where someday there will be an exchange of value. And don’t always think that it’s got to be something what’s in it for me, actually, there’s more value to come from you actually paying it forward and being of assistance to others. And Malcolm Gladwell talked about it in the Tipping Point about the strength of weak ties, right. And I found oftentimes, when I’ve reached out to someone I barely know on LinkedIn, asking for their assistance, that they’ve been more receptive to help me or to help me, help me help someone else than someone I know very, very closely or deeply.

AW: Interesting. This relates nicely to some comments that we heard from Sharon Mah-Gin. She’s an executive recruiter that I interviewed about the power of networking, and she talks a lot about reciprocality and offering value to others. So … interesting. Should everyone have a LinkedIn account?

ANDREW JENKINS: I think it’s fair to say that not everyone needs it. It depends on what your objectives are, or what it is that you do. You know, I know, when my son was in high school and doing a co-op, they were required to set up a LinkedIn account. Now, like, there’s a joke that goes around says like, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist. But there’s 700 million accounts on LinkedIn, but only about 3 million share content on a monthly basis. So there’s a huge delta between the number of people who have an account and the number of people who are active. And a lot of people will dismiss it as a place just to go to get a job. And a lot of other people don’t like being active on it, because they get inundated with people wanting to work for their firm or, or being sold.

AW: Yeah, that happens to me a lot.

ANDREW JENKINS: Me too. And I think we touch on that later. But this idea, though, that it is a social network, but it’s a professional social network. And so the analogy I use is, you’re at the soccer game on the weekend with your kids and you’re on the sidelines with another parent. You don’t always talk about soccer, right? You’ll start talking about what you do during the week or other things and suddenly Oh, they say something. Oh, I know something about that. And suddenly you’re networking on the side of the soccer field. So can you transfer that kind of serendipity into a virtual world through LinkedIn?

AW: Yeah, absolutely. So you talked about your son being instructed to create a LinkedIn account, I’m wondering if we can talk a little bit about optimizing our profile. So whether you are creating one from scratch, or you already have one, and you’re looking to improve it, what are some easy things that people can do to optimize their profile?  Maybe we can work our way down?

ANDREW JENKINS: Okay, starting at the top, often people will just default to their title. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your title you can. But don’t stop there. They’ve made some refinements you now have up to 200 characters for your headline. So put your value proposition. What is it you have to offer? What is it – What’s your strengths, your expertise, you can, like I said, it can still include a job title if you want, if you want to put some certifications like MBA, DBA, CFP, whatever, that’s fine, because a lot of people are looking for, you know, well known credentials or designations.

AW: Can you give us an example? say, say I’m a vice president of marketing?

ANDREW JENKINS: That’s a very generic title, right? What kind of marketing do you do? areas of expertise? Again, what kind of value are you delivering to that organization? And can you put it succinctly in 200 characters, what would make me read further down your profile? Now, the other thing to think about one of the reasons you want to have like provocative or eye catching headline is when you are commenting on someone else’s post, and someone looks at the thread of commenters. And you’re all directors of marketing, you don’t stand out, there’s no differentiation. But if you’ve got this provocative statement about you, something as subtle as that. To be more conscious of like, it’s your personal brand walking around inside LinkedIn. So consider what you’re doing – leaving these digital breadcrumbs that are related to your personal brand,

AW: it’s probably the most important thing because as you said, it’s showing up…

ANDREW JENKINS: well, and it’s the first thing people see when they hit your profile. So there’s the three things that are in combination, when people first hit your profile, it’s the banner image, your headshot and the headline. And so you want to have them working in unison. So when you look at my LinkedIn profile, yeah, my banner image is a collage of images of me speaking, right? I don’t need to tell you that I’m a speaker. It’s there. I am onstage so you know I speak. Then there’s my headshot, which is a professional headshot. So whenever you’re at a conference and someone sponsored a photographer, take the 10 minutes, take the opportunity, but LinkedIn even has a video. It’s #workselfie, the shows you have to take a picture of yourself with a neutral background with your smartphone. And that’s a lot better than a Gray Ghost. And avoid your vacation pics, no pictures with remnants of other people, the number of people that I’ve seen use scuba diving,…

AW: what about the background, the banner ad, because I’ve seen people, they’re putting things like scuba diving or whatever, where it’s kind of showing that they have another side to them, or…

ANDREW JENKINS: well you raise an interesting point. So I’ve worked one on one with some executives on their LinkedIn profile. Recently, I was working with a partner in an accounting firm. And I said, when you think about the banner image, we can use it to humanize you to show other aspects of you, what is it you would want to convey with an image, and he said diversity. He said, I like to work with diverse teams. I really evangelize diversity in all its shapes and forms. And so we found an image that was representative of that theme. For another executive who works in the energy space, he wanted to talk about the innovation in the energy space. So we found still a stock photo, but something that conveyed that rather than just the default blue background, so again, it’s free, throw something up there that this is all about personal branding and think about all the icebreakers that you’re asked to share. When you go to a networking event like LinkedIn. I’ve been to some of their events and they’ll say tell the room one thing about you that’s not on your LinkedIn profile is an icebreaker.

AW: So now we’ve got our background, we’ve got our headshot, we’ve got our headline, can you go through all of the elements kind of from top to bottom, just briefly talking about the do’s and the don’ts, maybe what the common mistakes are. And also I should add, I know that we can play with the order, we can move things up or down depending on the relevance and what we want.

ANDREW JENKINS: So the next section after your headline is the about or the summary section. And again, like you said, you can move them around, but typically people are just going through the default settings. Now the about section only displays about three lines of text. So this is where I tell people give thought to what those first three sentences say, Ah, it’s the opening of your story below the that third line are two words see more, right? And what would give me cause to click see more? And the other thing is, your LinkedIn profile is not your resume. This is kind of I call it the story of you and the about section is a summary that stitches together all the chapters of your career that are listed below.

AW: Okay, so I have a question about the about the about section, I’ve noticed some profiles that are that are very impressive that do exactly what you said they kind of draw you in. So you click on see more. Should it be written in first person? So I help companies blah, blah, blah, or should it be in third person? Dr. Andrea Wojnicki…Right?

ANDREW JENKINS: It should be written in first person, imagine if your summary went to a networking event on your behalf. Okay? It wouldn’t be talking about you in a third person. This is not Seinfeld, this is you talking about yourself, write it as if you’re trying to build rapport and trust. Okay, you’ve got 2000 characters, so take advantage of it. The other thing is, I don’t want to say keyword stuff.

AW: I was just thinking that!

ANDREW JENKINS:  Some of the things that are written there are going to aid you being discovered. And so you can list your areas of expertise,

AW: I’ve seen that in the last six months, I’ve noticed a lot of people changing their about section to introduce themselves. And then at the end, it lists their areas of expertise. In fact, I did that as well. Like I have courses and coaching in the following areas.

ANDREW JENKINS: I did a bit of a hack. And this doesn’t stop anyone else from doing the same thing.

AW: we’re all gonna do the same thing!

ANDREW JENKINS: So I have my own company. So I can list as many roles at my company related to me as I as I wish. So I have myself as the principal running the company. And then I’ve added a second role, speaker. And the reason I did that is because with that secondary role, it gives me more screen real estate to describe what I do as a speaker and panelist and I list all the conferences that have spoken out or been a panelist and so every new conference that I’ve spoken at virtual or otherwise, etc., I add that. And then if there’s any media of me standing on stage, or a video clip, or whatever, I add that media to that section, that’s amazing.

AW: So you’re updating it, you’re adding to your credibility.

ANDREW JENKINS: I should jump back just briefly to the about section. We’ve talked a lot about what you write there that you can have media there, you can have you on YouTube, you can put a thumbnail, but the link is to a podcast, the way I describe it is that your LinkedIn profile could be the most media rich business card you could dream of having.

AW: I love that! Roll more media into it. This is all stuff you can’t do with a resume. So is the media in the about section in addition to the featured section, which is usually below that…?

ANDREW JENKINS: that’s where they’re bringing some of that to the forefront is into that featured section.

AW: So you could do both right, you could put something in the about section and also in the featured section.

ANDREW JENKINS: Okay. But for instance, if I write an article on LinkedIn, publish an article that gets featured in the featured section, okay, but it’s also listed in my activity, but not necessarily listed as media in my about section. The same principles apply for all the roles. It’s a chapter in your career, I would give emphasis to any of the roles that are for the last five years, and I saw a comment recently from someone else, a millennial who does a lot of work on LinkedIn, she made a comment about people saying “open for new opportunities” is their headline. And there’s a new setting on LinkedIn that says, you can say I’m available for new opportunities. The recommendation was not to blatantly put that as your headline, because I don’t want to say there’s an element of desperation.

AW: But I think there is!

ANDREW JENKINS: But again, it’s about being proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. And if people want to recruit you, they will because you can change that setting for recruiters. So it’s behind the scenes that you’re doing that anyway, put the emphasis on who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and that personal brand kind of thing.

AW: I actually I have to say I agree, and I loved your previous point about the headline, it should announce what you’re proud of and why people should trust you and why they would want to talk to you, right? And they don’t they don’t want to talk to you because you’re looking for a job, right? They want to talk to you because of your experience and your expertise. So what about – so there’s like section one that lists your job experience, right?

ANDREW JENKINS: So then you’re going to get into education, and volunteer and recommendations and endorsements. So again, those are other chapters, it’s not the appendix of your career like that people will make a connection with someone who’s an alumni of the same program. So don’t overlook your education, even if it was a while ago. And as well, if you’ve done any recent certifications, or professional development,

AW: and sometimes some organizations, they cut their applicants, for example, they’ll say we’re not going to look at anyone that doesn’t have an MBA just because it’s probably an easy sort of objective, quantifiable measure that they can.

ANDREW JENKINS: It’s a filter. Yeah. And then volunteering, you may make a connection. Like you and I met on a board. People outside of their work ,if they’re on the board of a non-profit, it may lead to a connection. And so don’t overlook that section. And the last two main sections: recommendations. When was the last recommendation that you got?

Sometimes they can be gamed. I’ll write you a recommendation if you write me one or I’d love a recommendation, I know you’re busy. I took the liberty of writing it for you. So that’s my take on recommendations.

AW: I’m sure many, many of them are legitimate, but also many of them are not.

ANDREW JENKINS: right. So you have to be careful. You want them valid. And the other one that receives scrutiny is endorsements. Right? I just have to click a button to endorse you. The one thing I highlight about that is that the more you are endorsed for specific skills, the higher you rank and search for those skills.

AW: Yeah. So if you are job searching, that may be critical, right?

ANDREW JENKINS: Yeah. And the top three are the ones that get displayed.

AW: Okay, it’s three that get displayed. I haven’t even looked at what mine are.

ANDREW JENKINS: So then, that’s the thing is like, I tell people, go look at the three that are displayed. Are they the ones you want to be known for? Just like keywords in your summary section, you’re trying to help your discoverability.

AW: Right. And then I guess the last thing is interests, right. You can follow organizations or people and then they show up as interest. Does that matter?

ANDREW JENKINS: Well, sometimes you forget what you clicked on, right? Oh, yeah. I don’t want that there. So they were showing us some of their political affiliations. Yeah, that’s not good. There’s so far down your profile, like they’re not a priority. But I just flag it as just be mindful of what’s displayed there. That’s all. We’ve been hired to do social audits on executives that were being considered for senior roles. And in one instance, they were going to be a CFO, and we found nothing. And so we delivered the audit and they go, Well, there’s nothing here. I said, Well, that’s what you want. There’s nothing – there’s no red flags. They were clean. Think about every digital breadcrumb you leave.

AW: Yeah. So the social audit is an interesting, interesting topic in and of itself, right. So I know a lot of senior executives who have no digital footprint, really, they may have, like you said, a placeholder on LinkedIn or a placeholder on Facebook. But that’s really it. Is that, is that a good thing? Is that better than nothing? Or?

ANDREW JENKINS: Well, there’s two different audits. There’s the auditing of their own digital presence and digital breadcrumbs. And then there’s have they been talked about? Just because you don’t have a LinkedIn account, doesn’t mean you’re not being talked about online. Now, for many people. If it’s a small business fine, like you can fly below the radar for a very, very long time.

AW: Okay, so I think that’s a great insight, right? You have a digital footprint, which may include your social media profiles, but it may include articles written by your firm or by journalists or whatever. So Google yourself, as you said,…

ANDREW JENKINS: perhaps get someone else to Google you, because Google is so tied to our own search habits. Yeah, have someone else Google use because the search is not going to be tainted, like it would be for you,

AW: or just don’t use Google?

ANDREW JENKINS: Those or you have not watched the movie on Netflix, The Social Dilemma?

AW: Yeah.

ANDREW JENKINS: Someone who worked for Google, actually, at the end says, I use QWANT “ q, q, a, n, t”  to do search, right? Because it doesn’t track your history or keep it

AW: fascinating.

ANDREW JENKINS: you may not have a digital footprint whatsoever. And you might be quite content with that. That’s okay. But if it’s at all concerning how somebody search your name, and see what they come up with,

AW: yeah, that’s fantastic advice. I guess the way to think about it is that social media is an opportunity to craft your personal brand online. Let’s shift gears then to etiquette and posting. Can you take us through some do’s and don’ts maybe what topics are off limits, particularly on LinkedIn?

ANDREW JENKINS: Sure, I’ll touch on posting for a moment. People say, Well, I don’t have time, if you’re five minutes early for a meeting, fire up LinkedIn and just comment on a post or share a post. Instead of surfing Facebook, surf LinkedIn. See if someone’s with an article of interest, whatever, like just swap it out, and find these moments to engage. Use a Google Alert to find content around certain topics that you might want to build thought leadership about, and put the emphasis more on commenting on other people’s articles for visibility, you know, comment on someone else who has higher visibility, comment on something they’ve shared, and see who likes the comment that you made? And if whatever comment you made garners a reaction, that could inspire you to write a blog post. You can then go back to those seven people that liked it and say, oh, by the way, here’s a blog post or a podcast or another article. And suddenly, I’m building a relationship with these people. I haven’t sold them anything. I’m not trying to sell them anything. We’ve just made a connection over mutual interests.

AW: Brilliant.

ANDREW JENKINS: Yes, that’s a bit of effort. But as people become increasingly reliant on LinkedIn to make connections, be genuine, be human. Don’t use the default message from LinkedIn saying, I’d like to add you to my personal network on LinkedIn. I heard a great example from a friend of mine, someone in his network posted on Friday night at five o’clock, saying we’re all working from home now. My wife likes to put on Led Zeppelin when it’s five o’clock on Friday to celebrate the end of the week and the weekend is here. What have any music you played to signify the end of the week?

AW: I love it.

ANDREW JENKINS: It started this whole thread of comments. And this was on LinkedIn. Yeah, he was being human. There. It was tied to work. And on Monday morning: just isn’t it great that we can talk about Led Zeppelin on LinkedIn? Let’s stay connected. Yeah. And that was so genuine. So human. So real versus anything that felt scripted, right? That’s the sad state I’m seeing on LinkedIn. And if I had to summarize etiquette, just be yourself. It’ll go a long way.

AW: Well put, well put. Let’s move on then to the five rapid fire questions. Yeah. Are you ready?


AW: Question number one. What are your pet peeves?

ANDREW JENKINS: The person who ended up being my boss at Bell during an interview said you’re very even. You’re low key. What pisses you off? Oh, but like, I know that I can be somewhat hard to read. And so he said, like what pisses you off? I said, being made to look unprofessional.

AW: Okay, well, I’m going to make you look great with this podcast, Andrew. Question number two, what type of learner are you?

ANDREW JENKINS: I’m the stereotypical guy who doesn’t read the instructions, but I will watch a YouTube video and that taking me through how to do something, thank God for YouTube because it’s become this. It’s the number two search engine. Just type in the words how to into the search field. But I have found YouTube invaluable to watch a minute clip. I literally just how do I do x? And there’s a YouTube video that shows me how to do it.

AW: So yeah, the poor repair man, he’s done. Question number three, introvert or extrovert?

ANDREW JENKINS: Introvert, I think back to when I did my MBA, and the thought of standing up in front of my class would make me sick to my stomach. And now I can stand up in front of 400 and speak quite comfortably.

AW: Yeah, I’ve seen you speak. Yeah. Question number four communication preference for personal conversation?

ANDREW JENKINS: I can say that I don’t like talking on the phone. I find lengthy conversation on the phone – I don’t enjoy that. I rather prefer in person, or the virtual digital equivalent. Or I like Slack or texting just because it’s like the one thing I need to ask you. So I don’t have to have a five minute conversation to get to the point.

AW: Right. Ok, got it. Last question. Is there a podcast, a blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending the most these days?

ANDREW JENKINS: Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They have a mixture, but they’re talking about a variety of things that are happening in the media space. So that’s my recommendation.

AW: Okay. I’m gonna put a link to that in the show notes. Is there anything else you want to add about LinkedIn?

ANDREW JENKINS: connect with me on LinkedIn!

AW: Okay! I will make sure I put your coordinates in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time, Andrew.

ANDREW JENKINS: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much.

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