Your LinkedIn Summary Should Tell a Story

Stories have been part of human history since the dawn of time. It’s embedded in our psyche. Stories help us remember important things. They talk to us.

Even the crude drawings on cave walls, painted by our distant ancestors, tell stories. The cave dwellers depicted their exploits in story form with colorful narratives that stretched not only across the cavern’s expanse, but across the vast expanse of time as well.

But … what if they had used bullet points instead?

Would it have been as memorable?

Steve Maurer here with more tips on building a LinkedIn profile that brings in paying clients. On Monday, I introduced you to this powerful network. And yesterday, you started filling in the blanks for your profile header and chose a photo.

Today, we’re going to look at what I feel is the most important part of your profile. Not only will it assist in getting your profile found in search, it should compel prospects to contact you.

It’s the story of you and, more importantly, your prospect.

This extremely important part of your LinkedIn profile is your summary. The summary is the first part of the overall section called “Background.”

“So, Steve. What should I put in my summary?”

In my opinion … anything but a summary.

Now, granted, there’s no wrong way to write it. And, many people use it to display a bulleted laundry list of their products and services. That’s okay, but …

You have 2,000 characters to work with. Remember, you already listed your main services in the header’s title box.

And your qualifications, certifications and education are listed in other sections of the profile. So, don’t be repetitive. That’s boring.

Why not tell a story?

Use your summary to talk directly to your prospect. Don’t tell them what you do … tell them what you can do for them.

Speak to your prospects, not at them. Have a conversation with them. Use your copywriting and storytelling skills!

Let me give you an example …

I had a phone call with a prospective client a few weeks ago. He’d read my profile, contacted me via email, and we set up the appointment.

After the usual pleasantries, he got right to the point.

“You said you could help my business succeed.”

Note that it wasn’t that I could provide this service or that other service. It was that I “said” I could help him succeed. He had a conversation with my profile. It “talked” to him for me.

My summary has been revised several times and it will be many more. Whenever I learn new skills or uncover more information about my prospects, it changes.

Here’s an abbreviated snippet of what it looks like now. It’s my “story of them” …

So, today, think carefully about what you want on your profile summary. Don’t write cookie cutter content. Be original … be you!

Let your summary do the talking for you. Have it tell the story of your prospect’s challenges and how you can help them.

And, don’t rush it. Craft it as you would any compelling sales copy. After all, it’s selling you! And, you want them to remember you.

If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let me know here.

Tomorrow, we’ll be checking out the parts of your LinkedIn profile that add credibility to your business: endorsements, recommendations and portfolio items.

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Published: May 20, 2015

18 Responses to “Your LinkedIn Summary Should Tell a Story”

  1. Really great series so far, Steve. I'm going to be revising my LinkedIn page! Good advice. Looking forward to the next article.

    Donna KaluzniakMay 20, 2015 at 2:34 pm

  2. Great information. Would you advise putting writing samples on your linked in profile? Why or why not?

    Guest (Sara)May 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm

  3. Thank you so much for these helpful steps, Steve! I was just getting ready to create a profile and wasn't sure how to best fill in the boxes. Perfect timing! Thanks again!

    Sara CothrenMay 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm

  4. Do you have more space if you have a premium account? Is it worth the money to have a premium account?

    AmyODonnellMay 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm

  5. I've been following this series all week as I'd been mulling over upping my LinkedIn profile.

    So after reading todays's post, I went to your LinkedIn profile to see your entire summary... and am duly impressed.

    In fact, there's a lot of lessons to be learned from studying your profile alone.

    But as if that wasn't enough - LinkedIn generously shared with me a list of others that "People Also Viewed", which reads like a AWAI Who's Who.

    I'm hoping to learn more about who it's best to connect with on LinkedIn - just your clients? or anyone who can testify to your professional strengths?

    Laurie PielMay 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

  6. The contest drew me to the site' then i saw the content about writing for a living. I changed my mind about seeking employment' but i still like the site though. So' my profile was aimed at other poets. I like to make associates and use the site as a social site' than job interview. Take care and talk to you soon

    Guest (Terrell Edwards)May 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm

  7. Hi Steve, your technique about using story telling to address the prospect's needs in the summary section is very insightful. Great article series- Nahrin

    Nahrin DMay 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

  8. Steve, as a new AWAI member, I am really enjoying your posts to 'The Writer's Life' concerning LinkedIn. I have had an account for years, but it hasn't really 'gone' anywhere. As soon as I finish the Accelerated Program, I will change my profile from that of a government employee to a copywriter. I have nothing to offer a prospective client right now, but I hope to make that change soon. I am so excited! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    RockyBalladMay 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm

  9. Great questions! I'll try to answer each one in a separate comment.

    Donna, looking forward to seeing the revised edition. Just remember, you may get done, but you're never finished. Just like a website, a good profile will always need updating. And with the "notify your network" button on, they'll get a message that you've changed something. Have fun with it!

    Steve MaurerMay 20, 2015 at 11:42 pm

  10. To our guest commenter:

    Yes, by all means post writing samples. It showcases your abilities. I have several on mine, including a press release I wrote for a client.

    That said, they don't have to be samples of actual paid assignments. You can use sample assignments where you've picked a product or topic and wrote about it. I would suggest that you make that plain that they are examples of your writing, not paid assignments. More questions about how to do that? Let me know!

    Steve MaurerMay 20, 2015 at 11:48 pm

  11. Sara, so glad they posted in time for your profile creation. Hope they make the process easier for you. If you have any questions, comment here and let me know!

    Steve MaurerMay 20, 2015 at 11:49 pm

  12. Amy, I don't believe you get more space. The difference is more toward contacting options.
    As to your second question, I can't advise you yea or nay. It was worth it for my purposes. That said, I got my first LinkedIn-based client with the free version. That job lasted 2.5 years. Do a good job on your free profile. If you need a comparison, check out the help section. LI changes things, usually for the better. Check there for the current options. Hope that helps!

    Steve MaurerMay 21, 2015 at 12:09 am

  13. Steve, I'm thoroughly enjoying our discussion this week. I've been looking for ways to make my LinkedIn profile work harder for me and it looks like I've got some homework to do.

    I'm very new and haven't had my first paying client then. I feel a little apprehensive about making claims in my summary without any previous experience. What would your advice be for those of us just getting started?

    Thanks again for the great letters this week!

    Tracey BesemerMay 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

  14. Hi, folks. So surprised about all the great questions. I'll try to get to all of them soon, but one caught my eye in particular. Who should you connect to?

    Laurie, connect with client, potential clients, friends, family and fellow writers. Connect with people who can testify to your professional AND personal traits. Some may endorse you, while others will be happy to write a recommendation. Remember that clients don't just hire writers. They hire to total package. Become that package!

    Steve MaurerMay 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm

  15. RockyBallard, looking forward the change. Study hard!

    And never sell yourself short. Sounds cliché, but begin with the end in mind. Don't dwell on what you are. Aspire to what you can become.

    A new writer's first article paid him $5. He was a college dropout, had no real copywriting skills and worked in a chicken plant for 30 years.

    But, he worked hard at learning. Now he sends $500-$600/month to his aging parents from his writing fees.

    I still work in that plant. But I'm smiling now.

    Steve MaurerMay 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm

  16. Tracey, here's a thought. Is there someone you know that you could do some pro bono (free) work for, even a small job? Maybe a friend, a family member or a small local business or cause. Tell them you are learning and would like to write something for them. Do your best work and work with them like any client.

    You just might walk away with:
    >Experience
    >A testimonial or recommendation
    >A referral
    >More confidence
    >And the start of a good story.
    Your profile will evolve with you. Enjoy the ride!

    Steve MaurerMay 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

  17. Thank you for the advice, Steve. I am in the midst of two such projects right now: writing Etsy listings for a friend's natural makeup business and doing a direct mail fundraiser for a local historical railroad society I am involved in.

    Tracey BesemerMay 22, 2015 at 11:10 am

  18. Tracey, there you go! Both are good opportunities. Be sure to ask for testimonials, recommendations and such. Both are good opportunities to build your credibility.

    You can do this!

    Steve MaurerMay 26, 2015 at 11:37 am


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