If you use LinkedIn in any way, shape or form to grow your personal or professional brand (whether your own company or the company you work for), it's important to have a solid "About" section.
This section, which shows up just below your photo/name/title/location at the very top of your LinkedIn profile is the first major section of your profile. And because built out profiles have a good amount of information in them - your work experience, where you studied or went to school, volunteer experience, skills, languages, publications, etc. - your About section can give your profile visitor an overview of who you are and what you do before they dive in. But that doesn't mean it has to be a summary of what's below.
Think of it as a cover letter of sorts. A good cover letter doesn't just summarize what's on the resume. A good cover letter tells a story, often based on the education, work experience, volunteer experience, etc. that's listed in bullet-point fashion in the resume. Your LinkedIn About section should be the same.
Think of your About section as a short story
If your About section is well-written, interesting and compelling, your profile visitor will be more likely to read on, which is a good thing since that' what puts your company / firm / business offering in front of them. But the reality is that many people don't have a strong About section, if they have one at all. Here's what I see lawyers, including immigration lawyers, often do:
Summarize where they've worked and went to school (all of which is already listed below) without a narrative around it.
List their accolades and awards with no context.
Write in the third person (which makes it clear that they copy & pasted their About section from their law firm profile or some conference booklet they were in).
Write in large blocks.
It's a start, but it's not inspiring. And if it's not inspiring, your profile won't be memorable. So what should you do? I won't get into every single detail - instead I'll list the counter to each of the above bullet points so you can start to see what a good About section should look like, and then you can read my most recent About section below. "Most recent?" That's right - I change it every so often, and I recommend you do too. Not only does it keep your profile fresh and up to date, it gives you the opportunity to share your ongoing journey as a professional and update your network of new product or service offerings if you're an entrepreneur (run your own law firm, global mobility company, agency, etc.). So here are the counter-points to the above:
Think of your About section as a short story. This doesn't mean you need to start from when you were born, but creating a narrative makes it much easier to read and pull the reader (your profile visitor) in. They become invested in your story and feel like they know you already, even if just a little bit.
Contextualize your accomplishments / accolades with a personal feeling or story. Every lawyer is on Who's Who, Chambers, etc. etc. It's not very impressive anymore and certainly isn't memorable. Instead, write a story about a particularly important case you won, award you received, talk you gave, etc., and take the reader (profile visitor) along with you through that story. This will help the reader understand WHY that accolade or accomplishment is important to you while still telling them that you got it.
Write in the first person. LinkedIn profiles are meant to be YOURS (we're not talking about company pages here, which are a totally different story), and your profile visitors expect to hear from YOU. So unless you talk in third person normally (if you do and pull it off, that's so badass) then don't write in the third person. As mentioned above it signals that you probably pasted your professional summary from your law firm profile or something, and the reader will immediately skip this section or worse - leave your profile altogether.
Space out your text with white space to make it easier on the eyes. Large text blocks are hard to read, especially on a screen, and ESPECIALLY on a mobile device (where many LinkedIn users will be reading your profile). Add some white space to your profile to ease your profile visitor's eyes and minimize their chance of scrolling down without finishing.
There are definitely many more best practices - but these four rules can help you be on your way to a much stronger and more compelling About section that pleasurable to read and will keep the reader on your profile.
Here's my most recent About section (as of 4/24/2020)
I don't update my About section too often, but I review it every few months to make sure it's still up-to-date with what I offer, my narrative and the kind of story I want to tell. Sometimes I'll do a full re-write - the one below was a full rewrite of what I had in the my about section on 3/8/2020. I don't know when I'll update it next, but I know I'm always thinking about it, especially if / when I offer a new product or service, or want to change my narrative. After all, LinkedIn is amazing because it ranks really well on Google (if someone Googles your name and you have a LinkedIn account, chances are it will show up on the first page, if not as the first result) and it's YOURS, which means you have the power to brand yourself however you want it before someone else has the chance to do it for you. Ok then, here's my current About section: ---------START ABOUT SECTION--------- 🗽I HELP IMMIGRATION & GLOBAL MOBILITY FIRMS GROW🚀WITH TECH, CONTENT & CONSULTING. But first I practiced immigration law, and I remember my first day of work as an immigration attorney so vividly, as well as my last... On my first day I was wearing a full suit - not quite ill-fitting but not inspiring either. It was a Monday morning, and I left the house with a black bag hanging from my right shoulder. In it was a notepad, a few pens and my water bottle. Halfway to the office I walked by a parked car with particularly clean windows and caught my own reflection. It made me stop for a moment. A million different emotions passed through me with lightning speed, but the net result was a half-smile. “Wow,” I mused. “I can’t believe I’m a real immigration lawyer.” I tightened my double Windsor, took a deep breath and continued walking. On my last day, I was wearing jeans and suede dress shoes. No jacket, no tie. I was standing outside the office building holding a box of my stuff in one hand and my iPhone in the other, waiting for my Uber. The car took a wrong turn and rerouted, but I couldn’t care less. My mind was zooming. Because you see, I had so many ideas about the immigration industry, and now I was free to pursue them. I hated dealing with H-1B compliance - it was manual, error-prone and costly. I wanted to build a platform that automated the LCA compliance process. So I did. I also had ideas about how to build an immigration business through creative branding and marketing. I wanted to use my writing and theater experience to breath some life into our industry. So I did. Do I miss being an immigration lawyer? Sometimes. But I’m so much better at helping OTHERS be great instead. So how do I make life easier for immigration and global mobility professionals? 💻I launched LaborLess, a software platform that helps immigration lawyers and in-house teams automate the LCA compliance process. 🤝I launched a consulting practice where I help immigration and mobility firms find their brand and craft compelling, creative content. 🚀I launched GMI Rocket, a community for immigration and global mobility professionals focused on LinkedIn, marketing and growth. 🎭And I’ve taken to the "stage" with my theater experience to speak about automation, tech, marketing and branding at immigration and HR conferences. If you’re an immigration or global mobility professional, I can make your life easier. Or if you’re an immigration, HR or mobility organization, I can come speak to your members about making their lives easier. Let’s connect! ✌️Peace.
---------END ABOUT SECTION--------- There you have it. It's not perfect, and maybe you hate it, but I think it's pretty OK. It tells my story, it's easy to read, it mentions my accomplishments and what I've built, and even has a call to action (CTA) at the bottom nudging the reader to reach out to me to chat about how we can potentially work together.
Most importantly, it was actually fun to write. I love writing, and I love LinkedIn (can you tell?), and this allowed me to be creative with something that's inherently related to my work and professional image. Truly a win-win.
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If you're an immigration or global mobility professional interested in marketing and growing your personal/company brand, especially LinkedIn, and you want to chat with me about how we can work together, give me a shout on LinkedIn.
If not, check out my free Slack community GMI Rocket, where you'll be plugged into a network of immigration and global mobility professionals actively building their LinkedIn presence and discussing branding, marketing, growth and more!
Once again, peace✌️