How to create a stellar LinkedIn summary

A Stellar LinkedIn Summary for Lawyers


In last weeks episode I talked about creating head turning headlines in your LinkedIn profile. Why is this important? Because it’s the ONLY part of your profile that’s instantly visible in LI search results! It also follows you everywhere on LI, when people find you in searches, when you comment…THIS is why you have to make the very best use of these 120 characters to catch attention and further entice someone to click on your profile.

It’s no easy feat to sum up who you are, the key skills you offer, and do so in a way that sets you apart all within 120 characters.—-If there is just one thing to take note of from last week’s episode it is that you can easily set yourself apart simply by creating your own headline so you don’t look like approximately 95% of attorneys on LI who end with the default setting reflecting only their name and that of their law firm.


Many users skip the summary, which is a mistake. When you bypass the summary section on LinkedIn and, instead, launch right into your experience, you kill your opportunity to share your brand story to your professional audience. In other words, you leave it up to viewers to figure out who you are, what you’re great at, and why they should care about you. And, if you don’t proactively, creatively, and diligently summarize yourself – others will do it for you! 


While your audience may briefly see your name and profile picture first, the summary of a LinkedIn profile is what the vast majority of the site’s 500 million viewers first examine and get to know you in depth. A great summary provides your professional, personal and unique essence to readers, and if it intrigues them, they will keep reading.

The summary should be a short version of why you do what you do, in your own words. Use the summary area of your profile to provide a snapshot of your professional journey and aspirations. Write it in first person, this connects you to the reader and just keeps it real. Aim for a tone that is somewhere between conversational and not too casual. The summary should not simply recap your experience and education sections; consider it a cover letter for the rest of the profile and make it interesting enough that the reader wants to continue scrolling down for the other sections that reflect your entire picture. Many conclude the summary with a “call to action” — or at least what I prefer – an invitation to contact the user.


#1 mistake – TREATING YOUR SUMMARY AS A RESUME! Many of the summaries read like the summary on a resume and this is understandable: the LinkedIn profile does resemble a resume. But this superficial similarity is problematic. Using the same summary on a resume and a LinkedIn profile does everyone a disservice.

Your resume is ideally customized for a specific purpose for which you are applying. By contrast, a LinkedIn profile summary must speak to your ideal prospects. Now, if you’re using LI for a job search you might think it should sound like a resume. Well, I don’t think so. It’s still important to tell a story, your story and how you help your ideal clients. This speaks to a recruiter more efficiently about how you provide your services, your strengths, and personality. Therefore, a resume and its summary must be specific and targeted; a profile summary should not.


The challenge, though, is this: while a profile summary should be more general than a resume summary, if it is too unfocused, it won’t get attention. When someone is looking at LinkedIn for profiles, an off-target profile summary means your profile will not appear in a search result. The impact is clear: your audience will never contact you and an opportunity to connect and develop a relationships never materializes. So how can one write a good LinkedIn summary that strikes the right balance between being general enough to cover your bases and specific enough to show up on both LI internal and external search engines?

  • OPTIMIZE THE SUMMARY APPEARANCE  There are two major ways in which a LinkedIn summary will be viewed: desktop or mobile. Depending on which platform, only so many characters will appear of the profile summary:Desktop: the first 220 characters are immediately visible, with the rest requiring a user click on “View More”Mobile: the first 92 characters are immediately visibleBecause viewers will need to take an extra step to see this other content, each of those first 220 and 92 characters must pull their weight: 68 percent of LinkedIn’s users are viewing it via mobile (LinkedIn 2016 Q1 quarterly results), so maximizing the impact of those first 92 characters will be especially important.These two broad categories are technically further divisible by platform: on desktop, what web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge/IE, or Safari) is used; on mobile, which OS (Android, iOS or Windows) applies. Sometimes, website information is not displayed uniformly across each platform, OS, or screen size. However, differences are likely to be minor and, in the vast majority of cases, hard to notice.Without getting too technical here, just be mindful of the fact that when someone is searching from their cell phones, only approximately the first 92 characters are visible on most devices, so all the more important to make the most of that top most portion.
  • CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE  In order to maximize a LinkedIn profile’s attractiveness, it is critical to understand the reader and his or her priorities. Readers who are looking for the type of services you offer, and the content should follow suit. Now, here is where you need to strike a fine balance between what you do, how you do it and what sets you apart in an interesting story format and SEO considerations. There is an entire science to this discipline: search engine optimization.Although the specifics of search engine optimization (SEO) are beyond the scope of this episode, the governing concept is a simple one: keywords and their variations. Anyone who has used a search engine understands how important the search terms can be. And for the same reason, these keywords are highly relevant when someone is looking for your professional services within LI and from Google. Remember keywords does not mean trade jargon, put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client and figure out what terms and language that person would use to find someone offering the type of services and expertise you offer.
  • BE AUTHENTIC  Don’t be afraid to communicate something authentic and personal, while remaining positive: this can makes a huge difference in the way readers get to know, like and trust you. If you don’t provide an opportunity to get to know you on a somewhat personal level, how are they going to like and trust you? And, if they don’t like and trust what they see, chances they’re going to reach out to you are not so great. This past year since Microsoft purchased and restructured LinkedIn there have been several updates and revisions, along with an entirely new interface. Before we get into the mechanics and 3 essential steps of crafting a brilliant summary, remember:LinkedIn is often the first place people go when they are looking to evaluate you in a professional capacity. If people Google your name to learn about you, your LinkedIn profile is likely to show up in one of the top spots in the search results. Since 62% of Google clicks go to the top three search results, those who start at Google will end up at LinkedIn. For many of us, a LinkedIn profile is the most comprehensive bio we have on the web. Your LinkedIn summary (all 2,000 or fewer characters) will likely be read by more people than any other version of your bio . This added exposure gives you a great opportunity to capture the attention of decision makers — but only if you have a summary that connects. So, your LinkedIn summary should: show relevance, differentiate you from your peers, make people want to know more about you and ultimately connect with you one-on-one. I have had the opportunity to help several professionals tell their story in the form of a LinkedIn summary, and what I share here is the proven process I’ve used. It’s a simple three step system that makes your summary sing and off to a great start! This will give readers an opportunity to get to know, like and trust you, and want to reach out to you...


  1. SET THE SCENE: Before putting pen to paper (or more likely finger to key, or even voice to Siri), decide what you want your summary to say and what you want viewers to do. These questions will help you set the scene:
    • Who is your ideal audience — the people you want to reach? Who are the most important decision makers and influencers in your world?
    • What do you want them to know, learn, or do?
    • How do you want to make them feel?

    Document your responses to these questions so you can start gathering your raw materials.

  2. COLLECT YOUR CONTENT: Organize your content into these 7 categories:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   What you do. Write a couple of sentences about what you do in terms of the value it creates for your team, your company, and internal or external clients. (“I’m the orchestra leader. I have a team of the best and brightest technicians. I bring them together to solve some of the most challenging technology problems our company encounters.”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Accomplishments. Write a sentence for what you have achieved in your career. Be sure to describe the value you created. (“I saved my company $200k by implementing a go-green initiative that motivated employees from throughout the organization.”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Your values and passions. I call these the VPs of brand ‘you’. What are your non-negotiables — your operating principles? And what brings you energy and joy? (For example, collaboration, harmony, travel and tennis.)                                   Your superpowers. Describe the things you do better than anyone else. (“I can make extremely complicated technical details easy for business people to understand and digest,” or “I’m the calm in the storm, able to deal with the biggest crises with a logical and approachable demeanor.”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Interesting stats. List things you can quantify – and don’t restrict yourself to just those that are work related. (“I climbed three of the tallest peaks; I speak three foreign languages and travel to at least six new countries every year; I worked in eight different roles in sales and marketing before becoming the CMO.”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Differentiation. Cull the things that make you you and help you stand out from your peers. (“I’m at my most creative from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. when I have the entire office to myself,” or “Acknowledging others is important to me, so I like to type personal messages of appreciation to team members on the typewriter I was given on my 16th birthday.”)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Validation. Include all those things that help you reinforce what you say about yourself. They include the awards and accolades bestowed upon you (for example, “Graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts; was awarded an innovation fellowship by the Association of Advanced Technology”) and testimonials or recommendations from mentors or senior leaders.Once you have completed your content category collection, take a look at your raw materials and answer these questions:
    • Is there anything missing (key information that isn’t included in the categories)?
    • Is there anything extraneous (not essential to expressing your brand message)?
    • Is it authentic and aspirational (connected to who you really are while positioning you for where you want to go next)?

    Make any adjustments, additions, and deletions to your raw content and then prepare to persuade.

  3. SHOWCASE YOUR STORY: Before you write your first sentence, give yourself “permission to be human” – something that doesn’t always come naturally to lawyers! We put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we are writing, and if you lower your expectations of your first attempt, you can typically refine, edit, or recreate something that’s really quite good. Sometimes the less-than-stellar prose we write becomes the inspiration for the perfect sentence or paragraph.And, I recommend writing your summary in the first person for three reasons: Everyone knows you wrote your own LinkedIn summary, so writing about yourself in the third person seems a bit disingenuous. Writing in the first person creates a conversation between you and the reader, and that’s the best way to build a relationship. The first person version of your bio sounds more like storytelling and less like listing your accomplishments — and your summary is all about storytelling. You can use the experience section to tout your accomplishments.Focus on the first two sentences. The latest major update to LinkedIn reduced what people see when they look at your profile to the first two sentences of your summary. That means those two lines are the most important. They will either be good enough to entice the reader to click “see more,” or they will bore everyone into skipping to the next profile.Because the first sentences play such a vital role, you need them to be compelling, provocative, or mysterious. Think of them as a teaser for a show or the trailer for a movie. Look at your raw content and choose something that stand outs, or make it an eye-catching thread that you’ll be able to weave throughout your summary. Now it’s time to fill in the details, integrating the content from the various categories into an authentic and compelling story. The best sentences will likely combine content from different categories. Remember, LinkedIn limits your summary to only 2,000 characters (including spaces), so make every word count.Once you have a draft that you like, it’s time to get some external feedback. Identify three people who can give you some guidance:
    • Someone in your target audience
    • A mentor or coach
    • A peer or friend

    Use their feedback to refine your summary. Then you’ll be ready to upload it to your profile and let the world know who you are!

WEEKLY TIP/TOOL/STRATEGY – Here’s your handy dandy easy-to-implement tip of this week:

Include your contact information at the end of your Summary. Make it easy for people to find you. If you’re comfortable, include your phone number and e-mail. Or just include your email, or perhaps a special e-mail you use just for LinkedIn.  NOTE: Do NOT put your contact information in your name field. Doing so is against LinkedIn’s Terms of Agreement and you could get your account shut down. You definitely do NOT want that to happen!


With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I decided to share a few pointers on how to show your prospective clients some love. So,  it’s going to be all about BRINGING VALUE to potential clients through the most RELEVANT CONTENT for your particular audience, and how to streamline this process.

Thanks for taking the time to join me and talk to you next week!


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