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LinkedIn Like a Pro: Insider Tips from Fabiana Leal

Fabiana Leal

Fabiana Leal

Career Coach

Key Takeaways

  • Authentic LinkedIn Profiles: Impactful LinkedIn profiles stand out through authenticity, particularly in the About section, fostering memorable connections.
  • Quick Profile Enhancements: For immediate profile improvement, focus on updating your headshot, name with titles, and headline to boost visibility and appeal to recruiters.
  • Leverage Recommendations for Personal Branding: If expressing yourself is challenging, begin with the Recommendations section to discover and showcase valued strengths and traits.
  • Skip Salesy Messages: Direct sales pitches following connection requests can deter potential connections; prioritize genuine interactions and relationship building.
  • Navigate Networking with Humor: Transform awkward networking moments with humor and honesty, creating positive and memorable encounters.
  • Online Presence in Job Searches: An optimized LinkedIn profile and active network engagement can reveal hidden job opportunities, highlighting the importance of a robust online presence.

Optimizing LinkedIn Profiles for Maximum Visibility


In today’s digital-first world, standing out on LinkedIn is more crucial than ever, yet so many professionals struggle to make their profiles shine. Whether it’s the challenge of injecting authentic personality into a digital resume or navigating the nuances of network-building without coming off as salesy, the path to a standout LinkedIn presence is fraught with potential missteps. Enter Fabiana Leal, a career coach with a knack for transforming LinkedIn profiles from forgettable to unforgettable, and the brain behind CareerLab4IR. In our upcoming Q&A, Fabiana shares her top strategies for optimizing your LinkedIn profile for maximum visibility, personalizing your online persona, and networking effectively to fuel career growth. Join us to unlock the secrets to making your LinkedIn profile not just seen, but truly memorable.

“I’m particularly fond of profiles that are well-optimized and personalized, truly conveying the individual’s voice. Not long ago, I was called for an interview, and the first thing I did was check the interviewer’s profile. I couldn’t help but smile the entire time because the way she described herself in the About section was simply authentic, straightforward, and to the point. It provided me with a gem that made all the difference in breaking the ice at the start of the interview. So, for me, the real deal-breaker is when a profile is genuinely authentic.”

“There are three aspects that reflect the activity of a LinkedIn profile owner – from being found in recruiter searches to getting a like on a post or article. These are the headshot, the name, and the headline. So, if I only had two minutes to tweak a profile, I’d start with these three details.

Here are some extra tips on how to enhance them:

  • Headshot: No need to hire a professional photographer, you can take a selfie by positioning yourself in front of a window during the day – this is the best lighting you can get.
  • Name: Make sure your name is correct and add titles if they add up to your professional authority (for example: PhD, MBA, and others).
  • Headline: Align yours with your professional identity, not necessarily meaning it should match exactly to what is written on your work contract.”

“I see personality as the externalization of an individual’s brand, which is only possible with an authentic form of communication, your true voice. It sounds simple, but it’s not for everyone. I notice that most of my clients have a significant aversion to exposing themselves on LinkedIn, whether in posts or comments. It’s a paradox because we seek visibility but fear judgment, right? To tackle this, I suggest starting with one of the last sections we worry about in a profile update – recommendations. For those who dread judgment, beginning by understanding what colleagues, bosses, and others admire about your work can be a motivational boost to start personalizing. Notice the verbs, adjectives, and skills these people highlight in you. Then, begin to personalize your About section. Your personal brand will emerge along with your confidence and professional reputation.”

“Without a doubt, it’s those connection requests followed by a cold call for something I have no interest in acquiring. I receive many such messages daily and, to be honest, have stopped responding to anyone who sends messages with this sales pitch tone. I find it a significant lack of creativity and a waste of time for both parties. There’s a term for selling on social networks called social selling. However, this strategy of approaching people based on their job titles to try selling a product is one of the least effective and impersonal methods out there.”


Networking Strategies for Career Growth


“Networking events are full of unexpected moments, some of which can catch us off guard. However, these instances also present unique opportunities to create memorable connections. A case in point happened to me not too long ago at a business conference. 

A young, very friendly woman sat next to me, and we immediately hit it off, engaging in a lively conversation. It wasn’t until I noticed the curious glances from around the room that I realized something was amiss. Eventually, I learned from a bystander that my new acquaintance was actually quite famous and highly successful in her business endeavors. Feeling slightly embarrassed for not recognizing her, I later approached her with humor, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me you were famous? I’m terrible with these things!” We shared a hearty laugh over my honest confession.”

“I begin by introducing myself and then ask the person I’m conversing with questions. For me, the best way to break the ice is to inject humor into the conversation. I’m not great at telling jokes per se, but sharing amusing stories about myself often helps lighten the mood and engage others.”

“I struggle with remembering names, often mixing them up or even using the wrong one. Whenever this happens, I feel embarrassed but quickly apologize and correct myself. If I’m not sure about someone’s name, I avoid using it at all costs. I’ve learned to focus on my strengths rather than trying to improve something that comes with difficulty for me. Knowing my tendency to make mistakes with names, I concentrate on listening and asking questions to keep the conversation flowing.”

“I’ve employed an interesting strategy that has proven quite effective. When someone asks about my profession, instead of delivering a quick pitch, I explain why I identify as a Career Growth Designer. This approach usually sparks more curiosity. However, instead of continuing to talk about myself, I politely suggest scheduling a private conversation to discuss career growth further, especially if we’re at a non-work-related event.”


The Role of Online Presence in Modern Job Searching


“I followed the journey of a student who managed to secure a job through a surprisingly simple strategy. She applied my method, which is based on three pillars to increase visibility on LinkedIn. First, she optimized her profile using effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies. Next, she worked on her personal brand by focusing on her reputation and customizing her profile. Lastly, she employed a relatively simple strategy that few utilize. Having recently celebrated her birthday, she received dozens of congratulatory messages. Instead of ignoring these messages or merely thanking them, she engaged in conversations with some individuals, sharing that she was actively looking for a job. Unexpectedly, one of these people was about to advertise a position that was perfect for her. This case was surreal; she secured a job purely through networking within her circle, for a vacancy that wasn’t even publicly listed yet. This demonstrates the power of a good network and how people are usually willing to help those seeking to reposition themselves in the job market.”

What’s your number one no-no for online profiles?

“Personally, I’m put off when a profile lacks a photo and an About section. It really makes me question whether the profile is legitimate or fake, or if the person hasn’t taken the time to personalize it. My recruiter friends often tell me they avoid contacting profiles that are incomplete because they assume these individuals don’t frequently use LinkedIn.”

What’s a clever way to showcase skills online that most people overlook?

“The best strategy is to fill in as many skills as possible on your profile. LinkedIn recently increased the skill capacity from 50 to 100, so the more skills you list, the higher your chances of appearing in recruiter and headhunter searches. This tip is especially valuable for those conducting a quiet job hunt, typically employed individuals who don’t want to alert their network to their job search.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about maintaining an online presence?

“When I first started creating content on social media, my initial marketing mentor told me, “Shame doesn’t pay the bills.” This advice has never left me. Despite being more introverted, I challenge myself to create videos and content in a language that isn’t my mother tongue. The outcome has been incredible, both in terms of helping people with career growth and in attracting clients who resonate with my personal values. As I always say, let’s rock!”


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