One of the most important areas on your LinkedIn profile that most professionals don’t customize is their cover image.

Together with your LinkedIn profile picture, the LinkedIn cover image is the first thing people see when they visit your profile.

Many LinkedIn users don’t even realize they can customize their banner image (note that you can only do it from your desktop).

Some LinkedIn users simply use the default image of the gray gradient because they don’t get around to it or just don’t know what image would be appropriate.

Some people upload the wrong image such as a photo from a vacation they took or a picture of their favorite sports team, a generic cityscape, an abstract image or their alma mater.

None of that is demonstrating strong personal branding.

Here’s how you can create a stronger LinkedIn cover image.

Your LinkedIn cover image takes up a lot of prime real estate on the top of your profile, so it should reflect what you do and for whom and be customized.

It should reinforce who you are and reflect your personal brand while being professional. It should communicate your value, skills and professional identity while not being overly promotional or boastful.

My top tip for your cover image is to customize it with images that are specific to you and to add your contact info on it in a prominent place.

Hiding your contact information is one of the biggest mistakes people make on LinkedIn. Make it easy for people to reach out to you.

I would also list out your capabilities and areas of expertise.

Take a look at my LinkedIn cover image to see how I did it. A lawyer or consultant can put their specialties in a bulleted list.

You could also add something timely to promote such as a recently published book or article or an upcoming speaking engagement. It’s easy to update the image when you use Canva (see below).

Unoptimized LinkedIn cover image
This is what your cover image looks like when you don’t have a custom image

Also don’t be shy about using photos of yourself on your profile.

Invest in more than one headshot so you have additional options for various marketing initiatives.

My cover image includes images of me public speaking because that’s a big part of what I do. If you’re a writer, you could have someone take a natural shot of you drafting ideas or typing on your computer. If you’re a speaker like me, you could show a picture of you speaking.

You can also incorporate an image of an award or accomplishment. This can raise your credibility in your industry.

Another idea is to use a quote that inspires you. Just keep it short. Too much text on a cover image can become hard to read, especially on mobile devices.

Make sure the text is visible and not covered up by your profile picture so keep it on the right-hand side or upper-left corner.

I made my LinkedIn cover image using Canva, and I use Canva for my clients’ cover images as well – it has many templates you can easily adapt.

Whether you use LinkedIn every day or once a year, it’s still either your first or second Google search result so spend the time on creating a strong LinkedIn cover image.

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