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      According to studies, up to 77% of the people who do business with you will check you out on LinkedIn first. In addition, 44% of those surveyed reported an increase in networking effectiveness from using LinkedIn, and 65% of journalists have used information on LinkedIn as research material. When it comes to building a personal brand, there is no doubt your LinkedIn is a non-negotiable part of your brand marketing strategy.

      Sounds simple, right? Yet 90% of the CEOs who call me up inquiring about building a personal brand and creating a brand marketing strategy have a LinkedIn profile whose basics are below par — never mind being well branded or optimized.

      If you are looking to build a CEO-worthy LinkedIn as part of your brand marketing strategy, be sure to check the following off your LinkedIn list.

      • A customized LinkedIn background. When putting together a killer LinkedIn profile, don’t forget to create a branded background. Instead of using the generic (read “boring and unbranded”) options LinkedIn provides, create your own. For about $150, a good graphic designer can take the standard LinkedIn background template and customize it for you.
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      • A branded summary. Think of this summary as the one-page business plan for your brand. It may be the only thing someone who lands on your profile reads. Poorly written, incomplete, or just plain lame summaries can hurt your credibility.
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      • A good summary contains short paragraphs and bulleted lists that provide an at-a-glance view of your achievements and accomplishments. Your summary is not the place for generic broad information and philosophical discourse — rather it screams out for specifics. Numbers and details are what make up a great summary when building a personal brand The more you can paint the picture of who you are through what you have done, the better.
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      • A keyword-optimized, professional headline. The space under your name is some of the most valuable real estate on LinkedIn. This is where you get a chance to make an immediate first impression, yet most people only list their title in this section. In my book, that’s a big mistake and a wasted opportunity. Instead use keywords and phrases that turn the headline into an opportunity for building a personal brand with a mini narrative about who you are, your expertise, and your experience.

      If you are wondering if having a bright and shiny LinkedIn profile really matters, I offer this. One client I worked with closed two Fortune 500 customers for five to six figures each using these LinkedIn strategies. Another client — a senior VP of Innovation for a Fortune 500 company — was able to use her revised profile as a medium to generate her dream job within her existing firm, after changes in her profile caught the attention of a higher-up in her company. Not bad for just a few tweaks that took less than a couple of hours.