Episode #393: Leslie Hughes

Why You Need to Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Prospects


Leslie Hughes

Leslie Hughes is a LinkedIn Profile Writer, Marketing & Sales Instructor for the Digital Marketing Certificate at Ontario Tech University, the author of “CREATE. CONNECT. CONVERT” and has appeared on various media including CTV’s “The Social”.

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How do you want the reader to feel once they’ve looked over your profile? What action are you hoping they’ll take? Writing for the reader is essential because it dictates what happens next. When someone feels like you’ve built trust, they’re more likely to take the next step. Leslie shares how to write your LinkedIn profile for your prospects in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:45] Why a compelling LinkedIn profile is important
  • [1:21] Why your photo, banner, and headline are key 
  • [2:36] How to tell your professional story on LinkedIn
  • [5:45] Balancing professionalism and personality 
  • [7:39] How often to update your LinkedIn profile 
  • [9:23] Tools to build a better LinkedIn profile
  • [12:04] Leslie’s top LinkedIn profile dos and don’ts 
  • [18:15] Use LinkedIn as a tool for gathering information

How to tell your professional story on LinkedIn

Most people don’t feel comfortable sharing their personal stories online. Too many senior leaders and salespeople struggle to say “I deliver these results.” But their third-person bios seem distant and disconnected, which is why Leslie writes in the first person. You can reframe what you’re saying without feeling like you’re bragging. 

Leslie always tells her clients, “When you’re inside the jar, you can’t see the label.” How do you portray yourself through the lens of your target audience? Create everything through that lens. Most people are too far inside the jar to see from an objective standpoint. 

Balancing professionalism and personality 

LinkedIn is a professional network. People are there to invest their time. But if you have a playful and cheeky personality, you can (and should) write your summary that way. 

Leslie helped one of her clients write her about section. It started with: ‘In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo, I’d solve it.”’ While not everyone will be that playful, it’s okay to find a balance that works for you, as long as you’re authentic and it’s congruent to you. 

You could also lead with who you are, what you do, and how you help but you can also include what you do in your non-working time. What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? You’re a human and people want to connect with humans. 

Tools to build a better LinkedIn profile

Leslie recommends hiring a LinkedIn profile writer—like her—to help you tell your story (and get out of your own way). LinkedIn also has an AI tool that can help you write your summary. The tools can help you build a foundation. Leslie found that chatGPT can extract social proof from your profile. So you must be careful that it still connects with humans. You can go back and refine and improve it to get something uniquely you. 

Secondly, look at metrics like profile views, post impressions, or search appearances. You can look to see if you’ve gained traction in the eyes of potential customers. 

Leslie’s top LinkedIn profile dos and don’ts 

Leslie shares some great tips to help you refine your profile to connect with prospects:

  • Invest in your profile photo, headline, and summary. Make a good first impression. 
  • Humanize your connections. Send personalized invitations, accept inbound connections, and start a conversation. There’s another human on the other side of the computer
  • Turn cold calls into warm introductions. LinkedIn is a database of dream clients. Make those connections and build your network.
  • According to CEB, 57% of the buyer’s journey is done before a sales rep is even involved. 75% of buyers choose the rep who is the first to add value and insight. So share relevant content with your network. Stand out as a subject matter expert and stay top-of-mind.
  • Don’t ever sell from the get-go. Earn the right to pitch your prospect. It can take numerous touchpoints (11+). Build trust and rapport first. How would you like to be approached? Approach your network that way. 
  • Don’t violate any of the terms and conditions of your organization’s social media policy. You are a brand representative on all social media channels (and offline). Don’t lose your position because you posted something you shouldn’t have. 

LinkedIn is a powerful network that you need to use. Posting content and sending direct messages from a place of service is powerful. It’s not just a numbers game. Social media allows us to talk with our customers. It’s no longer a monologue, it’s a dialogue. 

Connect with Leslie Hughes

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Learn More About Leslie Hughes

Are there any definitive guides or resources you recommend for crafting an effective LinkedIn profile?

I’m “tooting my own horn,” but I’ve written a book called CREATE. CONNECT. CONVERT: 25 lessons on how to own your value and build a powerful professional presence using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (without bragging). I’m also happy to send a FREE e-workbook to your audience. They can just email me at leslie@punchmedia.ca

In the realm of LinkedIn branding and sales, who do you most admire and why? 

Two clients I’ve worked with have done an amazing job as CEOs who engage authentically with their network: The first is Duane Green from Franklin Templeton, the second is Charles Brown from LifeLabs. They both are active on their profiles and haven’t delegated the interactions to their Executive Assistants like some other executives.

Julie Cole from Mabel’s Labels is a great Canadian success story. She regularly interacts with her network. Tina Truszyk from Peller Estates and Trius Wine has a visually lovely profile as well.

My favourite sales experts are Robert Weese, Phil Gerbyshak and Nate Isaacson– they are incredibly people who regularly share their expertise and are my go-to guys for sales tips.

What are your top ten tips for someone looking to optimize their LinkedIn profile for sales – your golden advice set?”

  1. Invest in a good photo: This is the first impression people see when they land on your profile. Look into the camera lens and smile. You’d be surprised at how many bad photos there are of people on LinkedIn – from people who don’t smile, to people with no shirt on!
  2. Have a strong headline: Craft a compelling and clear headline that captures your professional identity and expertise.
  3. Write a compelling Summary/About section: Make sure you’re writing for the reader – what’s in it for them, but be sure your detailed summary highlights your skills, experience, and what you have to offer. Include keywords relevant to your industry to help your profile rank higher in SEO.
  4. Optimize your Current Position: Ensure your current position is updated and accurately reflects your role and responsibilities.
  5. Add Accreditations: If it’s relevant, include your accreditations, certificates and any other educational highlights that will show your audience that you’ve invested in professional development.
  6. Customize your URL: Create a personalized LinkedIn URL to make your profile more professional and easier to share.
  7. Add Awards: A lot of people fear they may sound like they are “bragging”, but people want to work with the best – so let them know you’re an award-winner who is committed to success! 
  8. Obtain Testimonials: Recommendations add “social proof” that say “this person has put their professional reputation on the line by saying nice things about me”. If Bonus points if you get testimonials from your clients!
  9. Add Multimedia: Incorporate multimedia elements such as videos, images, or documents to showcase you or your organization. 
  10. Always Be Networking: Set a strategy of adding a certain number of new connections per week. Let’s say reach out to 5 new connections per week. Even if you only send out 5 connections for 40 weeks, that’s 200 new connections per year.  

Add people when you attend networking events or trade shows. The more people you connect with – the more exposure you have to turn cold calls into warm introductions!

What are the primary considerations that companies should be aware of regarding their employees’ representation on LinkedIn?

Ensure you have both a social media policy and a crisis management plan for your employees. They should lay out the “dos and don’ts” for using social media, but also make sure you encourage them to use this channel to build their pipeline of sales and extend brand messaging.

Do you believe companies should provide specific training for employees to utilize LinkedIn effectively? Should this be a standard part of a salesperson’s induction/onboarding process?

Absolutely! According to LinkedIn, employees have 10x the reach that the Company page has, so organizations who are not using an employee advocacy program are really missing out.

One of the best and easiest ways an organization can extend brand messaging is by having their team re-share posts from the Company page to their personal LinkedIn pages.

Also, the organization should provide the team with company branded LinkedIn Cover images, and provide people with boilerplate brand copy for their Summary and Current Position blocks.

Can you share some case studies or examples of how a well-crafted LinkedIn profile has significantly impacted a company’s sales or networking capabilities?

I’ve worked with a few sales teams to help them optimize their presence using LinkedIn including “Skip The Dishes”, Right at Home Realty, and Allegion Canada. 

I don’t often get access to quantifiable data about how LinkedIn has completely transformed the company’s sales experience but I can say that every sales representative who ACTIVELY uses LinkedIn as a tool in their toolkit has said it’s a game-changer.

In the basic level of LinkedIn, you get notifications about “money in motion” or sales triggers when people change jobs. That’s a huge opportunity to generate new sales. There are also ways to deepen relationships by commenting on posts, celebrating prospect and client “wins” when they share posts.

Sales Navigator takes this “line of sight” to a whole next level including:

Unlimited search, saved searches, “Who’s viewed your profile in the past 90 days”

50 Inmails per month

Advanced search filters and sales spotlights

Lead and account recommendations

Integrates with your sales tools – SNAP, Outlook web integration, Sales Navigator mobile app

Keeps track of people and companies: Saved leads/accounts, Custom lists, Alerts, Notes.

For most people, I would recommend learning how to use the basics of LinkedIn first, and then investing in Premium levels once you’ve mastered the basics.

LinkedIn is constantly evolving. Are there any new features or strategies that you’re currently delving into or recommend sales professionals should explore?

LinkedIn is tapping into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) game by now providing you with the opportunity you to write or re-write your profile using AI. It’s not great yet, but AI is constantly changing so it will get better over time.

Using your smartphone, you can also let people know how to pronounce your name. I actually love that little hidden feature.

You can add voice messages to LinkedIn, which is something not many people know about or use.

For Premium members there’s also a new button you can add that says “Book an Appointment”. It sits right under your headline, and stands out.

Anything that LinkedIn launches as “new” becomes a big part of their algorithm, so always try out the “new stuff” when it launches. Sometimes it doesn’t always stick around (e.g. LinkedIn Stories) but when you’re doing something different than everyone else, you’re more likely to be remarkable.

How do you balance showcasing your hobbies and interests on LinkedIn, ensuring it complements your professional brand?

I love it when my clients add hobbies and interests to their Summary. It can really humanize their profile so it’s not just all business, all the time. 

My friend Phil Gerbyshak includes that he’s a pinball wizard. One client has on her profile “in the immortal words of Vanilla Ice ‘if there was a problem, yo’ I’d solve it’”.  Another client wanted to highlight how many marathons he’d run to show how he sets goals and stays committed to success.

Whether you’re a family person, you love certain sports teams or athletics, I think it’s great to include personal information about yourself on your profile!

For listeners eager to learn more, what’s the best way to connect with you on LinkedIn or other platforms?

I’m primarily on LinkedIn and can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/leslie-hughes  As a marketer, I dabble with other channels but as I advise my own clients, I focus on producing results where my audience is, and LinkedIn is where my clients and prospects are at!

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