Close-up of Your Digital Portrait

Complete and embellish the image of your online presence.

When someone you met at a conference searches for you online, what will she find? What you say about yourself?

Or is there a blank or incomplete space?

You have the positive obligation to shape your digital presence and tell your story through multiple channels. As a business or nonprofit professional, place yourself in the most favorable light.


Among the many digital channels, your LinkedIn presence is the resource likely to be reviewed by your peers, contacts, prospects and reporters.

Many consider LinkedIn the world’s largest database of professionals, with more than 450 million global participants. Now, seemingly everyone is promoting themselves online via LinkedIn.

Once your profile is established, be sure to update it on a frequent basis.

Take the time to view yourself through the eyes of someone you met at an industry conference to ensure you have a strong, attractive and complete online presence.

Your Photo is clear and focused; you have a smile, eyes looking at the reader. LinkedIn states that having a photo means your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed. Because you own a smartphone with a camera, you can easily pose against a blank wall and have someone take your photo. Then, post the snapshot to your profile, and eventually replace it with a professional headshot.

What does the default avatar signify? Perhaps you do not take your digital presence seriously and cannot be trifled to show your true self to the world.

Your Value-Driven Headline has 120 characters, including spaces. Summarize your professional title, name of company, target audiences and how you are able to help them. Emphasize the value of working with you and your company. Your goal is to make the reader want to see more of your profile. Consider reviewing the headlines of peers among your connections to learn both do’s and don’ts.

When someone conducts a search on LinkedIn, whether by name or key words, this is what she will see:

Photo, Name, degree of connection
Value-Driven Headline
Photos of any shared connections

Reading a value-driven headline will prompt the viewer to click on your name and read all about you, not a colleague with similar keywords.

What might a short or lackluster headline indicate to the reader? Maybe you do not maximize opportunities right in front of you.

Your Summary, in up to 2,000 characters, including spaces, is your greatest opportunity to advertise what you bring to the table, for whom and why. Note that only the first 220-235 characters (spaces included) will be displayed with your profile, so sharpen that sales language pencil and include a call to action: Contact me to make this happen. The reader must click to See more of your summary than these two lines.

Make an effort to explain, from the viewer’s perspective, how she would benefit from knowing and working with you. How will she Save Time, Save Money or Make More Money, thanks to your product, service or experience. For a nonprofit executive, how will you help Save the World or Bring More JOY to Life.

Remember, you control what you display about yourself on LinkedIn; write about how you serve clients in order to prompt prospects to contact you. Anything less and the reader has little reason to stick around.

Your LinkedIn URL can be customized as your name. When you register to open a profile on LinkedIn, you are automatically assigned a random number. Changing that URL demonstrates that you are a person attentive to detail who has taken two minutes to polish his profile. Complete instructions are in the This Month’s Tip section below.

Will the reader think you accept the status quo, without putting your personal stamp on the situation?

Your LinkedIn Connections should number at least 500 people. Why? Among these many contacts, it is more likely one of them will be connected to the person searching for, say, a copywriter or comptroller, either directly (1st degree), by a mutual contact (2nd degree) or a connection with a contact of a contact (3rd degree). These three degrees of connection mean she will be able to read more of your profile than that of a person with whom there is no viable degree of connection.

It’s easy enough to reach out to your many professional and personal contacts via LinkedIn. Enter a name in the Search space, then select the appropriate name on the list that appears. From that profile, click on Connect and personalize the request, indicating how you have a shared interest in, perhaps, marketing home insurance to renters.

Will you remain at a below-500 level of connections? That approach may suggest that you do not dynamically step forward to engage with others.

This Month’s Tip

Customize Your LinkedIn URL.

  • On your LinkedIn page, go to Profile and click Edit profile.
  • To the right, look at Edit public profile URL with the link:
  • Click on the pencil.
  • Now you can type your name XXXX without the number /123456a7 gobbledy gook after it.
  • If there is a duplicate of your name, LinkedIn will advise you; perhaps you can use a middle initial, hyphen or underscore between your first and last names.
  • Then click Set Custom URL.
  • You are done!


Ready to draw more details on your virtual portrait? Don’t gaze at a blank slate or a half-finished image. Contact me at 212.677.5770, set an appointment here or email me at Let’s look at the big picture and sketch in the missing pieces to call more attention to your digital presence.

See also: Are You Find-able? and Three Steps for More Success on LinkedIn

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Thanks to Marcia Rockwood, whose conversation inspired this newsletter.