Have you ever thought about painting the front door of your home red?

When shopping for homes we learn about "curb appeal", which is the aesthetic charm of a residence when viewed from the street. Red front doors are generally said to enhance curb appeal.  I know when I was shopping for my home, the houses with the red front doors got most of the attention.  

A good friend of mine recently painted her front door red. When I asked her why she chose red she said "as a kid I always thought they looked good, so I decided when I had my own home that I would paint my front door red too". There is just something about a red front door that people value.

WHY IS THE LINKEDIN SUMMARY SO IMPORTANT? 

  • It's Your Front Door. Like the front entrance to your home, a strong summary can give your profile "curb appeal", and after your headline and photo, it's the first thing people see
  • It Shows Your Personality. It gives you the opportunity to be engaging, original, and to practice the art of transmedia storytelling
  • It's Real Estate For Keywords. Keywords are a critical part of your job search. They help your LinkedIn profile pass the initial screening when you apply for jobs. The summary is a great place to include all the keywords that will help you get the interview

While listening to Secrets of the Hire episode 26, I heard Mark Babbit, CEO and Founder of Youtern.com, say "almost nobody is bold enough, brave enough, to say what they stand for in writing".

Why do you suppose that is? I think it has something to do with what career strategist Jenny Foss says in her article 4 Key Elements of a Killer LinkedIn Summary, "Someone has convinced you that you have to be uptight and boring in order to come across as a viable professional". Is that true?

 

"Someone has convinced you that you have to be uptight and boring in order to come across as a viable professional"
-Jenny Foss

 

Have you been thinking about improving your profile summary? I have. If you think your summary could use a fresh coat of paint too, here are 3 tips I think will help you.

1. USE A METAPHOR

Metaphors can be used to describe the common and complex parts of life in a way that others easily understand and relate to. They can also be useful for making your profile summary pop!

If you want to use a metaphor to help your summary, I suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • What am I really good at outside of work?
  • What hobbies do I have?
  • What am I really enthusiastic about?

Then use one of your answers to write a metaphor for your professional work.  

For example, I worked with a colleague on his summary and I asked him these questions. It turned out he was really passionate about cooking; he had graduated from culinary school and worked as a chef before he started working in customer service. Here's what we came up with:

"As a graduate of culinary school, I know that what makes a dish delicious are the ingredients and the passion with which it was made....To me, knowledge, enthusiasm, empathy and a willingness to go the extra mile are key ingredients to a successful customer experience."

There's a wrong way to do metaphors too. Just for fun, I give some examples of bad metaphors at the bottom of this article.  

2. TELL A PERSONAL STORY

You don't have to be Hemingway to tell a good short story for your profile summary. A brief personal story about an accomplishment or obstacle you overcame is an effective way to stand out and engage your readers.

There's some science out there that supports the case for effective storytelling as well. Presentation agency Ethos3 offers a Slideshare on the topic titled The Neuroscience of Storytelling For Presentations that also gives tips on telling stories.

Want to know how TED speakers tell their stories? I found this article by Nayomi Chibana that I think you'll love.

 

"Almost nobody is bold enough, brave enough, to say what they stand for in writing" 
-Mark Babbitt

 

When I began working on my summary last fall, I searched Google several times for templates and examples of great summaries. I found a great article by Andy Foote called 3 Stunningly Good Profile Summaries. Andy highlights 3 great summaries and one of them, by Kay Allison, gives a nice example of a personal story. If you're thinking about telling a quick personal story, give hers a read. The one by Mark Lazen also inspired me and I currently use a similar format for my profile. 

3. USE THE PAR METHOD

You may recognize the P.A.R. acronym from your interview research. It stands for Problem, Action, Result. To see an example, take a look at Paul H Simon's summary, also featured in Andy Foote's article above. 

Another good example that uses the P.A.R. method is from Jula Periera, social media consultant at On Time Social.   

  1. First she sets up the problem"...does social media overwhelm you? There are so many tools to choose from. Plus you don't have the time to post regularly. Honestly, you would rather be with your customers in the real world."
  2. Then she tells you how she can take action to solve it: "I am here to help! I will provide an assessment of your current business, help you discover the direction you need to take with the right social media channels and assist you with implementation so that you can take one more thing off your plate." 
  3. And finally she shows how her assistance will increase customer focus - that's the result"...Let me do the creative work for you so that you can focus on your customers' needs."

NOTE ON SUMMARY LENGTH

Opinions vary on how long your summary should be. In her article for Careercast, Brenda Bernstein tells us to use all 2000 characters. On the other hand, this article published by The Muse suggests aiming for 450 to 650 characters. It's a matter of personal preference.

 

"Don’t expect anyone to read a big block of text" 
-Brenda Bernstein
 

My suggestion is make it as long as it takes to authentically engage your readers while showing how you can add value. 

One thing is for sure, remember to break up your summary to make it visually easy to read. A big square block of text is a chore to read and may actually turn people away from your profile.  

BUT DO I HAVE TO?

There are lots of nice homes out there with front doors that aren't red. But the red ones get all the attention, right? So why not take a little time to invest in your profile summary. Some likely benefits are:

  • more page views
  • more interest from visitors
  • more connections
  • more potential job leads

If you've been thinking about making your profile summary more interesting, now is the perfect time to break out the red paint.   

Thank you for reading! Is a just-the-facts, straight-laced profile summary required to come across as a viable professional? Have you seen any examples of profile summaries that you really like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

•••

As promised, here are some examples of metaphors gone bad. Enjoy!

  • He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.
  • John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  • The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

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