Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Make Your Less-Than-Perfect LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

Default Blue LinkedIn Background Prohibited

This is the default LinkedIn gray background. You can do better.

 Do more with this free real estate. 

How can you stand out on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional database, with more than 660 million members?

Your potential clients and your referral sources are searching that universe for the person who can advise on a problem, so you must ensure:

• you can easily be found by using appropriate keywords in your headline and profile 
• you tick the boxes for their initial questions 
• your profile narrative confirms you are the professional they heard about.

You have full control of your LinkedIn profile’s space, so it should meet your own high standards.

LinkedIn’s criteria for a complete profile are:

  1. Headline
  2. Photo
  3. Summary
  4. At least two jobs or positions
  5. Five or more skills
  6. Industry
  7. School or university
  8. Postal code indicating where you work
  9. At least 50 connections

Your profile is undoubtedly complete on this basis. 

Now, let’s put some meat on those nine bones.

This Month’s Tip

Your profile may be complete according to LinkedIn’s checklist, yet underperform. Make the most of this free space.

  1. LinkedIn automatically inserts the title of your current job in the Headline slot. You can change that easily. Does your headline describe the value you create for clients or the team? Does it use terms someone outside your profession would use? (Hint: No one seeks a Director or an attorney who is a Partner.)
  2. Is the length of the Headline close to the maximum of 220 characters? You can achieve this by using a mobile phone or tablet when you edit the headline.
  3. Does your photo convey you are approachable??
  4. Is your background the anonymous LinkedIn default ? Change it to Meet Me. Include additional information, such as your phone numbers, email address, company logo and website URL. Don’t use a cityscape that conveys nothing about you professionalism.
  5. Have you received (and given) recommendations recently?
  6. Do you display examples of your work, such as reports, videos and news articles, in the Feature section? 


Now. Polish your LinkedIn profile. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com , set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770 for your FREE 30-minute review. I guarantee TWO IDEAS. We’ll brainstorm to rewrite your profile and add other elements so it will attract attention and confirm YOU can solve the problem, whether legal, financial or marketing. 

Request the e-book Three Steps for More Success on LinkedIn.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

(This discussion has been lightly edited for updated content.)

What’s in Your LinkedIn Profile’s Background?

Make that space work for you.

Because LinkedIn is the world’s biggest database, it is imperative that your profile be clear, concise and compelling.

One visual element of your LinkedIn profile is the background behind your photo. Based on research on how best to manage this valuable piece of real estate, most people under-utilize this promotional area and fail to highlight their skills and personal brand.

Surprisingly, career coaches considered by peers as leaders in the field of LinkedIn guidance, and even graphic designers, are deficient in deploying their LinkedIn background to their advantage.

Which of these best describes your LinkedIn profile background?

    • Gray LinkedIn default background: You’re a LinkedIn coach and you have not changed the background! Pshaw.
    • City landscape: Wow. You work in NAME OF CITY! I visited there. How does that location make you excel at resolving my financial issues?
    • Podium photo or jam-packed photo montage of person speaking at events: You speak to groups? So do I. Does that mean you have insight into my company’s operational issues?
    • Stock photo of people in a room: I have employees, too. Who are these folks and how do your best practices in personnel management relate to my problems with staff burnout?
    • Company logo: I have a company logo. And, what comes next?

You get the idea. Keep away from these stereotypical formats.

Your LinkedIn background should captivatingly indicate the services you offer, how they align with the reader’s situation, and how she can get in touch with you to learn more.

LinkedIn instructs you how to change the background, so be creative. Use the space to your benefit.

Look at two profiles that are distinctive: Beth Granger of New York and Marc Miller of Texas. Click to see how each neatly summarizes their services — and even displays their email address and phone number, making it irresistibly easy to reach out to them on the spot.

Now, let’s look at YOUR LinkedIn background.

If it is the default gray, you now know you can do better. (Don’t feel badly. Plenty of graphic designers have yet to change from the blue background.)

A sidebar — if your employer has mandated that you use the company logo as a brand ambassador, that’s part of being a team member, so follow the rules.

To those who have a city landscape, speaker podium photo or stock photo as the background, consider the proactive approach outlined here.

  1. Reinforce the search terms and keywords that may have led a potential prospect or referral source to look for you on LinkedIn.
  2. Display that text artfully and incorporate your contact information into the layout.
  3. Finally, check to make sure the background reads well on a tablet, where your photo is displayed in the middle and not in the lower left corner.

Then, when a new visitor arrives at your profile, you confirm that you are who you say. By prominently posting your website URL, email and phone, you are immediately accessible. A call to action is implied.

(Drum roll) Here’s my LinkedIn profile with the new background. Please let me know what you think and whether my design aligns with the above recommendations.

This Month’s Tip

Get the LinkedIn background format for the DIY-er. Open a free account on Canva; here is a LinkedIn background template, plus there are formats for other social media platforms. Experiment with different text, fonts, colors and images. When you are ready, save the file; then have a design professional review and polish your work for viewing on a computer and on a tablet.


Ready to graduate from default LinkedIn? Call me at 212.677.5770, set an appointment here or email me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com. Let’s brainstorm the words and ideas for text, plus elements, that will make your profile’s customized background stand out from the crowd.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

See also Close-up of Your Digital Portrait and Three Steps for More Success on LinkedIn

Note: This newsletter was published in September 2018. LinkedIn changed its default background in 2020; the image and text have been updated accordingly.

As You Like It, Please Say Why

When you comment on posts on LinkedIn and Twitter, indicate how others may benefit from the discussion.

Your LinkedIn feed is composed of an assortment of updates that your many connections have posted, liked, shared or commented upon. Your Twitter feed is filled with tweets from your followers and the people you follow. For now, let’s focus on LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn algorithm distributes updates selectively to individuals in that connection’s network. Based on the amount of engagement the post initially receives, LinkedIn assesses your interests and other factors before sending it to your feed.

Accordingly, when you agree with and like another’s LinkedIn post, how can you make the most of this opportunity — that is, make it work for you?

Take the time to respond to the person and the discussion, as you like it. That means, as soon as you click the like thumbs up icon , COMMENT to indicate:

  • what you agree or disagree with
  • how this confirms or disproves the trend
  • what the discussion overlooks
  • how this relates to another topic or lesson learned
  • why this is or is not a best practice
  • or any other interesting aspect.

Perhaps you see your connection Morgan’s name appears above a post by someone you do not know; she wrote So true. Will that comment make you read the original author’s update or click on the link to an article? I doubt it. With all the other items in the feed and on your desk vying for your attention, a nominal comment is not sufficiently compelling.

I once took issue and commented upon a post by a LinkedIn coach, John Nemo. Another reader agreed with me in her reply and later contacted me to continue the conversation. We became acquainted by phone and she referred a client to me.

How would that referral have happened had I merely commented with a bland Thank you?

Check your LinkedIn feed now and see whether or not the commenters have written an insight that adds to the conversation.

For example, LinkedIn author Viveka von Rosen recently posted about the new guidelines for a profile’s background image. Her post had 130+ Likes and 25 Comments (as of this writing). If you are a connection of hers (or of her commenters), you may see the post. Here are the replies (anonymously) and the respective number of each category of comment:

  • Thank you, Great or variation, plus reply by author: 17
  • Name of another connection, look at this: 3
  • Question: 1 and reply by commenter: 1
  • Observation of overlooked point: 1 and reply by commenter: 1
  • Link to related discussion by author: 1

Notice that the first 20 of the 25 comments (80%) are meaningless to the broader LinkedIn universe.

How does Great, or posting the name of another contact, add to a fruitful conversation? Does Thank you create the basis for professional social media activity?

Not at all. That’s why I repeat:

As you like it, please say WHY, so others may be persuaded that they will benefit from reading the article or post. That is the approach of the two commenters above who asked a question or pointed out another aspect, to which other readers and the author responded.

Looking back, my LinkedIn activity used to be contrary to this practice. If I had an observation or disagreement with a post, and I was already connected to the author, I would let her know privately by email.

From now on, I will share at least one observation/ comment/ question on LinkedIn every time I check my account. I urge you to do the same and, of course, never write an impact-less “Thank you.”

In the past, if I wanted to share something with a certain connection, I did so via email, not by naming them in a comment.

Surprise. I will continue this email practice. Many people do not check their LinkedIn accounts daily and so may overlook an interesting article. Even when LinkedIn sends an email, your connections may be more likely to read a discussion via an email from someone they know. It is also possible to copy the link to the post, go to the intended recipient’s profile and send them the link via a message. You can decide which tactic works best for you.

This Month’s Tip

Make an appointment with yourself to check your LinkedIn account and take the temperature of the discussions underway. Whether you check your own feed for update posts and articles by your connections or review discussions in groups, set aside time at least once a week.

Look for best practices, news and interesting content in your profession or industry on other social media platforms. When you find something notable, post it as a LinkedIn update or on Twitter, and comment in a meaningful way that embellishes the discussion, re-directs it or underscores its impact, as noted above.


Don’t be lukewarm on LinkedIn; do not mechanically re-tweet on Twitter. SAY WHY this caught your eye. Let’s take a test drive through some of the articles and posts in your LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Contact me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com, book an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s discuss how to sharpen and share your comments on LinkedIn and Twitter; you’ll add to the discussion and raise your profile as a thoughtful and insightful observer.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.

Thanks to colleague Bruce Segall, whose LinkedIn post inspired this discussion and also for his suggestions.