Building a great summary is one of the key elements of an engaging, "customer-centric" LinkedIn profile. Your summary should tell the customer, in 4 short paragraphs, about you, about your company, and how those two elements will help the customer with their business challenges. Your summary should be built to showcase you as a trusted advisor or subject matter expert. You want your customer or potential customer to look at your profile and say; "I need to talk to this person, they are going to be able to help me solve x".
In general, your summary should be written in the first person narrative - this humanizes your profile. I've outlined below what each of the four paragraphs should include, but feel free to add more information if you think it will be relevant to your customer. The whole goal of your customer-centric profile is to get your customer to feel like you are going to be able to help them, all the while understanding that you are a human being and have interests and passions outside of the business world.
Paragraph 1 – The first section is the place to showcase your knowledge and experience – not as a sales person, or as a business development exec (i.e. not about awards you’ve won for Best Sales Rep), but as a problem solver and innovator. Talk about how your experience with X has helped you help your customers. Talk about your background and what you can bring to the table as a solution provider. Include the skills you've gained by working with clients, and how those skills will benefit your customer.
Paragraph 2 – This is the place to talk about your organization – but in a thought-leadership way, not a product centric way. Talk about what your company brings to the table. Include your experience with the products or services your organization provides, and the benefit that your customers have seen by choosing to use your product or services.
Are you seeing the pattern here? It all relates back to how you are able to help your customer or potential customer.
Paragraph 3 – In this paragraph you can talk about your personal and professional passions. If you really, really enjoy brainstorming solutions to problems, or if you get excited about walking side-by-side with a customer to help them achieve their goals, talk about that. If you have a hobby or interest that you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to talk about it here. I’ve seen people talk about wind-surfing or classic cars or astronomy and it truly adds a human element to their profiles. This allows your customer to feel that much closer to you before they even talk to you.
Paragraph 4 – More of a call-to-action than a paragraph, this line is really to let your customer know how to connect with you. It can be any of a combination or all of “Connect with me on LinkedIn, Follow me on Twitter, phone me @ XXX, email me @ XXX”. However you feel most comfortable is the way to go here.
A lot of people struggle with this part of their LinkedIn profile. It is a complete shift in mind-set around how to talk about yourself on LinkedIn. One of the important points to remember is that as a Sales Exec or Business Development Exec, your LinkedIn profile is no longer your on-line resume. It is a showcase of who you are and how you and your experience can benefit your customer.
Take your time, jot down points that you want to include, and then pull them all together into paragraph format. It takes a little bit of effort to make that mindset shift, but once you do, you'll reap the benefits.