Imagine walking into a bakery where every pastry on display was soggy and half-baked. Of course you’d walk out.

Then you learn the bakery owner attended the best culinary school in Paris and finished at the top of her class. She won awards for her exquisite delicacies. But when prospects stop by her glass counter for a better look – she disappoints. 

What about you? What will your prospects see when they land on your LinkedIn profile? Does your display convey you’re the “real deal” to prospects or disappoint them with a half-baked profile?

In today’s what’s in it for me?, I-need-social-proof-before-I-buy-from-you world, half-baked won’t cut it. To spark engagement, you need to demonstrate you’re the “real deal.”

It’s easier than you think. Here are 3 steps you can take:

Make your headline count

Your LinkedIn Headline weighs more heavily in LinkedIn’s search algorithm, so put energy into it! With a 120 character limit on desktop and 200 on your mobile, you can bake a lot of value into that prominent spot. In addition to keywords representing your expertise, add "proof of excellence" phrases:

·        Specific financial gains or savings you facilitated: Grew Business Line 20%

·        Publications you contributed to: Forbes Contributor

·        Proof of your particular expertise: 4x Turnaround Portfolio

·        Keynotes, conferences you delivered to: Keynote Speaker at KSU

Even value statements such as "Boosts Performance & Productivity" or "1-Stop Steel Shop" are miles ahead of the soggy Job Title + Company Name Headline most people use.

Bake 3rd party proof throughout your profile

After you’ve conveyed the benefit of hiring you in your profile (I’ve written about that here), give proof you’ve helped others. Think Yelp. Who walks into an unknown restaurant without recommendations? Take the time to weave testimonials throughout your profile:

 Your Summary & Experience section:

Carve out 1-2 sentences from past client testimonials and begin a section that says: THRILLED CLIENTS SAY: See my client Rob Brogan’s* profile for inspiration.

If you have thrilled clients happy to be identified, begin a section that says: THRILLED CLIENTS INCLUDE and identify them. It shows others have benefited from your work. Have a look at my client Drew Hanthorn’s profile for a visual.

LinkedIn Recommendations

I often say: Recommendations are like stars on Yelp. You can’t have too many. They convey your "flavor" in a way nothing else can. Solicit them, especially when starting out.

Most people don’t enjoy writing recommendations. Hack: Every time you impact a client and they tell you so, write down their feedback. Using the LinkedIn platform, ask them if they’d be willing to write that on a Recommendation. Most people will say yes because you made it so easy for them!

I encourage you to invite Recommendations from happy clients regularly. If you haven’t received a Recommendation in years, it’s a red flag.

LinkedIn Endorsements

Beware of your disdain of LinkedIn endorsements; it could cost you.

LinkedIn acknowledges that the more “thumbs up” you have from your colleagues in your Skills & Expertise section, the higher you land in a search ranking/result.

Having those keywords without accompanying colleague approvals isn’t enough. 

Hack: Export your LinkedIn connections’ emails. Separate out those who’ve had 1st hand experience of your work and email them asking to endorse you saying, “I’ve recently updated my skill section. Can you endorse me for the skills below that represent my expertise?” Then reciprocate.

Post pictures of you in action as an expert

Nothing conveys you’re the “real deal” like public speaking.

I meet so many presenters who forget to capture images of themselves in front of an audience (Yup, I’ve done it). Make it a priority. Ask at least 2 people from your audience to take pictures, to ensure higher quality and a variety of perspectives. (Your audience can be a conference room of 10. You don’t need to pack Fenway to be seen as legit).

Hack: Tag your photographers when sharing the event in your LinkedIn newsfeed; when you tie it to your Summary or Experience section permanently, you can also tag them there, giving their SEO a boost.

If you’re not a public speaker, no worries!

Attach pictures of your finished product (Before & Afters are great!)

Create short videos of you sharing your expertise and attach them permanently to your profile.

Attach a PDF to your Profile that viewers can download to gain instant value. Create a twin to your opt-in giveaway on your website: i.e. Top 10 tips for preparing your home for the marketplace, Case Study describing a client success you had, 10 mistakes every [fill in the blank] makes

Take a page from Yelp. Make it easy for viewers to engage with you. By sharing testimonials, 3rd party proof, and images of you in action on your LinkedIn profile, you will give your prospects something they can’t resist sinking their teeth into.

*Thrilled clients’ names used with their permission 🙂

I’m Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, CCMC, a LinkedIn Profile Writer & Trainer, Career Change Coach & Forbes Contributor who loves fully baking undercooked LinkedIn profiles for Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Sales Leaders. I’m the founder ofComing Alive Career Coaching.

If you enjoyed this article, let’s connect on LinkedIn or contact me at

This is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.

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