LinkedIn has been evolving to remain relevant since it arrived on the scene way back in 2003. The upgrades that focus on your profile have been the most interesting to me— because they help you convey your personal brand to your audience. For years now, your LinkedIn profile has been your first impression. And the move to WFH a year ago has only increased the importance of your profile for connecting and engaging with your stakeholders.
If you’re one of those people who only update their profile when they’re looking for work or announcing their recent promotion, you’re living in 2003. That means the Concorde is still flying, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California and “Friends” is the number 1 TV show! It’s time to change your outdated mindset of “LinkedIn is the place I go when I’m looking for a job” to “LinkedIn lets me deliver an authentic and compelling first impression and helps me do my job better.”
This latest release includes many features that will help you embrace that new mindset. In launching this major profile overhaul, LinkedIn announced, “Sharing your professional journey in an authentic and engaging way is the starting point for connecting with the communities that matter most to you. That’s why we have re-imagined how you can bring your professional story to life on LinkedIn and are introducing tools to help you create a more expressive and inclusive Profile.”
There are numerous enhancements and new features with this release. Here are the ones that I think are most compelling and helpful to you as you build your personal brand:
Video Cover Story
I have been eager for LinkedIn to incorporate more video into your profile for a decade. This new tool lets you “personalize your first hello” with a video message for your audience. And it’s actually cool how it works—LinkedIn calls it the “Harry Potter effect.” After you add your Video Cover Story, an orange ring appears around your profile photo, and a preview of your video story auto-plays without sound. LinkedIn will be adding captioning to the video in a future update. Video is a much more powerful form of communications than words. It’s more visceral. Now that we rarely connect with people in the same physical space, video is the best substitute for face-to-face interactions. This feature will make it much easier to introduce yourself and connect with people on a deeper level.
MORE FOR YOU
If you’re building your personal brand by delivering your thought leadership with articles, blogs or videos, LinkedIn wants to help you get it noticed. Creator mode—which will be available in your Profile dashboard—lets you share your take on what’s happening in the news. Creator mode allows you to identify hashtags that highlight the topics you post about the most. It also positions the Featured and Activity sections of your Profile more prominently.
LinkedIn Profile Backgrounds have provided an opportunity to brand your profile and make it stand out from the myriad others (and to also replace the boring greenish gray standard background image). Now, if you’re a LinkedIn Live broadcaster, your branded Profile Background shows up when you stream live. This helps reinforce your message and will increase the visibility of your content.
Building an authentic LinkedIn profile is essential. And for many of us, expressing our preferred pronouns is a part of that authenticity. Pronouns are important to our identity and how we want to be seen. Over the past few years, LinkedIn members have been adding their pronouns to their Headline. With this new feature, you no longer need to allocate some of that limited Headline real estate for your pronouns. Via an optional new field at the top of your Profile, next to your name, you can add your gender pronouns. According to LinkedIn, 70% of job seekers believe it’s important that recruiters and hiring managers know their gender pronouns, and 72% of hiring managers agree.
Showcase Your Content
Now you can showcase your offerings from your personal profile. You don’t need to have a company page to do so. These new offering pages are called Service Pages and they’ll be discoverable in LinkedIn search by members—even by those who aren’t members of your network (if you make your public profile visible). Regardless of the degree of connection, LinkedIn members who seek out your services can contact you. The offerings on your Service Page will display on the feeds of your network as well as your own feed. LinkedIn is planning a future upgrade that will allow you to display ratings and reviews directly on your Service Pages. So stay tuned.
As is customary for LinkedIn, these features will roll out gradually (and seemingly randomly) and may not be available to you right now. So pay attention to your profile and update it with the features that are helpful to you as soon as you can. These are great new perks to help you deliver a powerful first impression and grow your personal brand.
William Arruda is a public speaker, the cofounder of CareerBlast and author of Digital YOU: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age.