How To Build Your LinkedIn Profile for Success

Here are our top tips for perfecting your LinkedIn profile and excelling as an independent consultant, freelancer, or portfolio-style professional.

Whether looking to network within your industry or promote yourself as a potential hire, it’s always a good time to fix up your LinkedIn profile.

An optimised LinkedIn profile is one giant step in the right direction, especially for those who seek contract work from multiple sources- like freelancers, independent consultants, and other portfolio-style professionals. As LinkedIn puts it on its official blog:

“When we neglect personal branding, we don’t just sell ourselves short, we also miss a big opportunity from a sales perspective.”

Skills and services become easier to sell when the face of your business (you) can be presented as professionally as possible. A LinkedIn profile allows you to do that, and can go a long way toward establishing your credibility- but only if you build it correctly.

Unsure how to optimise yours? Read on for 5 profile-fixing steps from LinkedIn and Universal Defence and Security Solutions.

    1. Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile Picture

A good photo can help you get 21 times more profile views, according to LinkedIn. But what makes a good profile photo?

  • Photo resolution should be 1,584x396px, and it should be between 4-8MB in size.
  • Ensure your head takes up 60% of the frame (or at least more than half; it’s a headshot after all).
  • Tidy Styling: Present yourself in your profile photo as you would present yourself at a job interview. Shirt and tie or smart top, plus hair looking neat.
  • Smiling photos perform best on LinkedIn, along with those featuring direct eye contact with the camera. This can help you to look inviting and pleasant to work with.
  • Have a solid background, preferably plain white or out of focus. You can use a more colourful pattern or image (without people) in the banner background section of your profile page if you wish, as long as it aligns with your personal brand. For example, a pilot may want to use a high-quality photo of a runway for his or her banner.

Some of the best places to get a good LinkedIn photo are at corporate events. If you find yourself dressed appropriately at an awards ceremony, luncheon or even wedding or graduation, feel free to ask the photographer for a good shot of you against a blank wall. You can also request a friend or coworker complete the task, as phone cameras have come a long way, or even do it yourself at home if you can meet the above criteria.

    2. Clearly State What You Do

The ‘profile summary’ is the most essential element of your LinkedIn profile. Get it right by clearly stating who you are and what you do in 370 words or less. In sentence form, that should include approximately one line stating who you are (eg: an independent contractor) and with what specialisation (eg: defensive cyber security), and two to three about your professional background.

It should also feature one to two sentences about the kinds of clients you work with, often but not always by name, and a one-sentence call to action at the end (eg: Reach me at or book a time to chat on my calendar here [link to calendar]).

Be sure to avoid overused buzzwords in this section of your profile. LinkedIn has identified ‘leadership,’ ‘strategic,’ ‘passionate,’ and ‘expert’ among its most overused words, so try others if you truly want to cut through the noise.

    3. Use LinkedIn’s ‘Services’ Feature

“Services is a new LinkedIn feature that helps consultants, freelancers and those working for smaller businesses to showcase the range of services that they offer,” the LinkedIn App reports. “Filling out the Services section of your profile can boost your visibility in search results.

To make use of this, simply fill out which specific services you’re offering in the ‘Services’ section. It sounds like a no-brainer but many consultants miss out by instead listing these services in the ‘Skills’ section, which won’t yield the same search optimisation on LinkedIn.