Ever wonder what makes a rock-solid LinkedIn profile that makes people want to add you to their network, engage with you, and work with you?
Well, there’s a lot that goes into it, mainly because LinkedIn is always adding new profile features.
The good news is that there are some elements that never change. As long as you pay close attention to them, you’re kind of set.
Here are the elements you should be keeping track of at all times:
So the idea is that you optimize all of this, and then find a way to feature your recommendations, publications, and honors or awards ― you know, so you’re always putting your best face forward.
Let’s walk through each one of these just so you know how to optimize everything in the best way possible.
By the end of this lesson, you’ll know all the best practices ― the same ones we use here at BAMF to create powerful LinkedIn profiles for clients all over the world.
If you are here for THESE, here you go. These are the latest dimensions and sizes related to your LinkedIn profile and its art in 2020. But make sure to read on, if you want to KNOW how to make your profile TRULY outstanding.
Now let's get down to business and improve your LinkedIn profile in ways that convert and grab the attention of other professionals.
Alright, the first thing we'll tackle is the header image.
That’s the big horizontal image that goes above your profile, but behind your photo.
It’s valuable real estate, the first thing people see when they click into your profile. Think of it as a chance to stand out.
There’s no scrolling involved, it’s right above the fold. Visitors don’t need to click expand, or read anything unless you add text in it. It’s really about conveying something visually.
And at 1584 pixels wide by 396 pixels tall (recommended), it’s going to take up a nice chunk of your page.
So, let’s go over a few examples of how to get your LinkedIn banner rockin’.
Let's start off with this simple idea ... event photos.
If you're speaking, or if it's a company event, you should be showing off that photo. It will help you improve your overall credibility at an instant.
Any photo of you speaking in front of a crowd instantly visually conveys that you are a thought leader. Someone that people trust and listen to. This is the ideal type of photo to use in your header image if you can.
Another option is to use group photos of your team.
If they’re impressive, feature everyone there, so people can see you’re growing a big company.
Photos of you leading a team meeting or working with your team also do well because they instantly convey that you’re a leader.
Another example you can use is custom graphics with a call to action.
These are great if you don’t have any good photos of yourself speaking or with your team.
Graphics help, especially if it encapsulates your service or product.
That way, you can include a link to your website, inviting them to learn more.
And this last client, Towers Wilen, also didn’t have any speaking or team photos… But they had some impressive press mentions and other accolades that we were able to feature to make it stand out as an all-star profile.
Not too bad, right?
You can also use your header as social proof.
We did this in the profile above example with a custom branded graphic, but also for Roger Jones below and combined with other images of him speaking at events and with his clients.
For Roger Jones, we featured his press publications (Harvard Business Review, WSJ, Forbes, Financial Times, The Sunday Times).
Another all-star client, Lisa Wang, had tons of social proof in the form of Press mentions.
We highlighted them all across the top banner of her profile ― looks pretty badass to me!
That’s all for Cover Images for now.
If you’re feeling a bit lost, no worries. You’ll definitely see the full picture at the end of the chapter when we reveal the before and afters of our full profile optimizations. Let’s keep cruisin’ along and catch the next wave.
Now, profiles that have photos generally receive 21 times the views and 36 times the messages as those who don’t select any image.
So, if you have something up there, even something grainy and old, you’re still doing better off.
That being said, it’s important to get your photo right, since this IS a SOCIAL network, designed to potentially land you new deals.
Here are some quick tips:
And just because I like you, here’s some more.
Now that we’ve covered that, here are some of the most common mistakes that I see that… well, just really need to stop.
Research has shown that we’re very bad at perceiving how other people judge photos of us.
Like, pretty bad.
Translation: whatever you think people perceive from your photo is probably completely wrong.
And it’s not just you ― it’s everyone.
Ask anyone out and about what they think people are perceiving about them, and you’ll likely nod, let them finish, and then clue them in.
Which all leads to the point here…
Whatever image of yourself that you consider the best, is not the same one others would pick of you.
In other words, we need to get around our own biases about ourselves.
This tool allows us to quickly survey others to figure out what they think about our photos.
You know, because we can’t be trusted to do it for ourselves…
So think of this tool as a window to the other side. It clues you in, so you can put your best face forward.
To get started, go to Photofeeler.com, and click the “Get Started” button in the upper right-hand corner.
Then sign up for an account. If you sign in with LinkedIn, you can skip all the tedious parts ― up to you.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a few options to upload photos:
From your computer, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Once that’s done, you’ll pick a category to be evaluated against. Either Business, Social, or Dating.
So for now, let’s pick Business. We’ll be evaluated on Competence, Likability, and Influence.
At this point you’ll be prompted to specify your job title ― it gives voters more context. Then you’ll select the test level you want from a variety of options.
I recommend the Standard Test, or anything higher. You get more objective results.
To take your test live, you’re going to need some credits. That means you have two options:
Once you rack up enough credits, run your own live test for any photos you’re considering using.
Then, just leave it alone for a while. The results take time, but Photofeeler sends you an email when the tests are complete to keep you in the loop.
A fair word of warning though ― the results might be a little unexpected.
Here’s what happened when I ran these four different photos (all of which I’ve used as my LinkedIn profile photo in the past) through Photofeeler and had them rated in the business category.
Surprisingly, strangers feel my photo appears more competent, likable, and influential with the natural light and real background standing in front of our building compared to the exact same photo with a simple gradient blue background.
And my most “likable” photo had me smiling the biggest while also holding my dog, Veni…
But instead, his ratings in competence, likeability and influence spiked with the informal photo.
It’s not exactly something we ever would have recommended ourselves, but it goes to show that surprises do happen. Be prepared to be proven wrong.
Once you’re done with this step, and pick out your photo, it’s time to upload it onto your LinkedIn profile.
Boom, done. ✅
But we wouldn’t be BAMF if we didn’t teach you how to use Artificial Intelligence to take things up a notch...
Alright, let’s dig into Snappr Photo Analyzer.
There’s a reason we use this tool all the time ― it’s honest. If you can do better, it’ll tell you, straight up.
To start, go to https://x.bamf.co/snappr and click “Analyze my LinkedIn Photo” button. Then log in with your LinkedIn account.
It’ll scan your photo using A.I., then spit out a report with an aggregate score and some detailed feedback on your face, composition, and editing.
Note, when it criticises your face, it’ll do it based on the photo itself, not your normal, daily facial expressions. So, pick something where you’re not squinting up at the sun, or something.
Otherwise, buckle in. This tool isn’t for people who don’t do well with harsh feedback.
We recently hosted a LinkedIn-focused event for the Santa Monica Bar Association, and I did a live audit of a profile for the audience…
It got some laughs for sure.
So, try not to take it too personally ― it’s not like another human is badmouthing you or anything.
It’s just an A.I. roasting your face.
Plus, all negativity aside, the feedback is insightful, offering on-point recommendations, so you always walk away knowing what was wrong, and what you can do better next time.
So, because I figured this would be a prime example, let’s see what it had to say about an old profile photo of mine.
With an aggregate score of 72 out of 100, it’s rated a low average, which isn’t exactly great, but also not as poorly rated as I’ve seen.
The first nitpick? That I should smile more in the photo.
Fair enough, I see the point.
It also mentioned something about a “squinch”:
“What is a squinch? It's a slight squint, or narrowing of the eye height. It's that balancing point between fully open eyes, which can convey uncertainty, and a full-on squint, which looks like you're staring into the sun. Research on profile photos suggests that a squinch does wonders for people's perceptions of you in a professional context.”
I agree, smiles convey trust. And squinches make you seem confident, and sure of yourself.
Let’s see what it says about composition.
The background is too busy and distracting…
But it’s blurred, so I’m on the fence about that one.
It also says that the rule of thirds would help here. It’s good to move the eye level to slightly off-center so viewers naturally gravitate to that part of the image.
Then, it gives us some editing tips.
And I nailed everything except sharpness, so I’ll keep that in mind in my next photo.
Here’s a Pro Tip: If you want to test a photo that isn’t currently up on your LinkedIn profile, scroll to the top of your results page, and select “Or upload another photo to analyze.”
So, that’s what I did…
I optimized my profile even further… taking advantage of the “rule of thirds”.
It had been 2 years since my last profile photo update, so this was a huge change. I wondered if people would even recognize me ― my last photo received over 25 million impressions, probably thanks to my dog, Veni. ❤️
I had been holding on to this photo for too long. And I didn’t want to let go.
But I figured that’s just fear talking ― just one more limiting belief designed to hold people back anyway.
If something has been working for you, great! But it doesn’t mean you won’t ever evolve or improve your personal brand image.
Notice how I made my new photo a bit off-center, with my eye level at the intersection of the top-right quadrant (shown below).
75/100 ain’t easy. If I smiled more broadly and displayed my teeth, I’d easily break the 80/100, but this is fine for now.
Plus, after the change, I got a lot more compliments.
So, all in all, a useful tool.
Between both of them, Photofeeler and Snappr Photo Analyzer, you can get some valuable feedback.
So, try it out. Test things until you get a satisfying result.
And don’t forget to send your results to firstname.lastname@example.org for a shot at being featured in our next profile optimization case study.
ClippingMagic (https://x.bamf.co/clippingmagic) ― the software tool I use (almost) everyday.
Let’s say you have a busy background on a great photo, and zero Photoshop skills…
Kind of like the opposite of Brian Lovelace (https://x.bamf.co/brian), our Creative Director (a photoshop wizard who vows to NEVER use ClippingMagic — we’ll be using him as an example just to annoy him!)
ClippingMagic solves that problem.
Just head over to clippingmagic.com, and drag or upload a photo into the tool.
It’ll ask you to “mark-up” or “paint” your photo to help the A.I. refine its results.
At this point, you’re able to draw a red line on sections that you want to remove, and a green one on items you want to keep.
And then, in real time, it’ll remove the background.
There’s other tools here too, like the specialized marker for hair, which you can use by pressing “V” on your keyboard. Here’s a full tutorial on it if you need more help with that one: https://x.bamf.co/clippingmagic-tutorial
When you’re done, you’ll end up with a photo that you can download as a transparent PNG.
Layer it on another background of your choice, use a solid color, or just leave it as is. Your choice.
Alright, I’m spent. That’s enough about profile photos.
It’s time to talk about your headline.
There's another portion of your LinkedIn art that you should care about.
It's new, it's powerful and it can help improve your profile in amazing ways. Yes, I'm talking about Linkedin's feature called links.
People tend to mess this up. Either they don’t include them at all, or they don’t optimize their profile links. More often than not, it’s both.
Take a look at my profile. You can see the links stand out because I’ve added images and descriptions.
The one on the left has an image that says get Join The Community of Badass Marketers & Founders (BAMF) (https://x.bamf.co/group) and then invite them to visit our Facebook group.
… if you scroll through my Featured links directly below my about section, you will realize that I’ve transformed this section into a super optimized click funnel for all of BAMF’s most popular products and services.
These images help me stand out in a huge way compared to 99.99% of other LinkedIn profiles, so I highly recommend adding images to your profile links.
Most importantly, they help me convert profile visitors into community members, book sales, academy members, leads, and ultimately new clients… which is the goal if you’re on LinkedIn after all.... to grow your business.
If you don’t have a call-to-action or conversion goal in mind, then why are you really driving people to your profile other than for the vanity metrics?
Here’s a quick tip to optimize the featured images on your links.
LinkedIn developed a tool called the Post Inspector that lets you see how links will appear in the preview before posting.
For instance, here’s what it looks like when I send someone a link to our website within a message on LinkedIn:
Go to https://x.bamf.co/post-inspector, and keep testing your custom image and refreshing via the Post Inspector to preview the updated links before finalizing and saving your new image links. ???? -> ????
Depending on the landing page or website builder you use, you’ll need to update the “featured image” of the page along with the meta title and description tags to land at the optimal preview for your link. This will show up wherever you post it on LinkedIn (posts, messages, and comments).
At BAMF, we’ve determined that the following dimensions work well for designing optimizing profile images for your profile.
Optimized Profile Link Image Dimensions: 638px x 426px
Before you get all crazy though, I always suggest sending a few test messages to a nearby friend or coworker just to make sure it shows up how you want on their end and to get their feedback.
Outside sets of eyes are always good when you’re crafting and refining your marketing strategy.