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How to Make a Standout LinkedIn Profile? Interview Gene Stark

How to Make a Standout LinkedIn Profile?

Who are you and what is your Story?

Wayne Gretzky famously said “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take” and not unlike Michale Jordan I have taken many shots and missed many. Failed businesses and marriages. There have been jobs I have taken that I should have never considered and jobs I have quit when I should have stayed. My failures make me who I am today, sometimes happy and almost always content and grateful. 

With over 25 years of marketing experience in both B2B and B2C categories, across both corporate and SME environments, I have worked on some of Australia’s biggest brands, including Bunnings, Coles Myer Group, Fosters Group, Tattersalls, Nissan, Mars, Swisse Multivitamins and Tetley Tea. As an SME Marketing Consultant I completed over 100 SME marketing projects and have provided advice to hundreds of business owners whilst writing and publicly speaking on the marketing challenges facing the driving force of the Australian economy – small business.

My experience covers FMCG, Health & Beauty, Information Technology as well as many other professional services, there are very few categories I have not worked in. I’ve sat on both the client and agency sides of the marketing fence and understand the requirements for success; to deliver simple, effective, and accountable solutions to increase the return on marketing investment.

Currently my role as the Marketing and Communications Manager at SRC Health  reminds me of the American comedy “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. We research, develops and market world leading, evidence based, compression garments for all stages of a woman’s life journey, and I enjoy every moment and challenge, knowing we improve the lives of thousands of women, during joyous but often testing times like pregnancy, postpartum recovery, post surgery and most recently mild incontinence and prolapse.


If men got pregnant instead of women, can you imagine how things would be different?

The morning after pill would have been invented by the Ancient Greeks, morning sickness would become a disability, we’d have government paid maternity leave and breastfeeding would not be a taboo, there’d be more flexible work arrangements and there would be tons of research to find ways to make pregnancy painless and shorter.

How often do you use LinkedIn?

Currently I use Linkedin on an  ad hoc basis, checking only a few times per week, answering any messages, accepting connection requests. Previously when I was consulting I would be spending at least a few hours per week. This time was spent on:

  • Researching prospects
  • Connecting with prospects
  • Sending tailored invitations and evaluations
  • Posting content that would position myself and the consultancy as experts in the area of branding and marketing communication
  • Commenting on posts where I could value and illustrate expertise

The reason I don’t do this currently is because I’m marketing to an audience, mainly B2C, that is rarely if ever on LinkedIn and if they were it would be the incorrect environment – the reason they are there is incongruent to the product I’m marketing. Our B2B audience who are Health Care Professionals are unfortunately not big users of the channel and often rarely, if ever, log in IF they have a profile in the first place. 

I do run / administer the LinkedIn profile of our MD to connect her with Key Opinion Leaders in our industry and of course being such a personal channel she takes over once the conversation begins.

How to make a Standout LinkedIn Profile?

 To stand out anywhere you need to follow some basic principles of branding or as Chanel elegantly put it:

To be different you have to be CREATIVE. Most of are not hilarious or clever like Matthew Banks – his profile has changed since then but this old one was AMAZING:


Matthew has a consistent record of under-achievement. His ponderous intellect and slipshod style is exacerbated by appalling communication skills. He is widely regarded as the most dysfunctional and unpopular member of any team he has ever worked in. It is only his legendary ability to deceive his superiors, to shirk responsibility and take credit where none is due, that has allowed him to remain in paid employment.

Through a combination of incompetence and corruption on the part of the admissions board, he was elected to a scholarship at Magdalen College Oxford, where he read English and Modern Languages. His undistinguished academic career was a surprise and disappointment to all except those who knew him.

His initial career in the textile industry at Courtaulds (later Akzo Nobel) will be remembered by those right across the globe – who had the misfortune to work with him on a variety of over-hyped marketing transformation initiatives, which delivered no business value and alienated customers and employees alike. On the back of these disastrous projects, there was nowhere else to go but the software industry.

His subsequent career in software has been one of spectacular failure and meteoric descent. In a series of ill-judged and unimaginative moves, he has helped to destroy the value of marketing applications for Prime Response (later Chordiant) and Siebel Systems (later Oracle), where he continues to this day. It is difficult to gauge over this period which has been less impressive, his time in product management or in presales consulting. In both roles, and at every level, he has exuded arrogance and incompetence. His self-knowledge is probably his only redeeming feature.

If you are a current or former colleague, you will naturally have no desire to stay in touch. However, if you are a prospective employer with a highly lucrative and undemanding job opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact Matthew today.

Here’s a formula for writing as well as ana example:

  • Your Target Market / Typical or Ideal Client
  • The problem you prospect is dealing with 
  • The outcome that your prospect will experience if they engage your services
  • Story or example that proves you can do it

Example – Financial Planner

I help people with a six figure incomes that are getting clobbered by taxes, staring at college and retirement and wondering how in the world they’re going to pay for it all.

I show them how to send their kids to private college for about the same cost as public colleges maintain their lifestyles at the same time and fund retirement.

A typical example is a couple that came to me who have two children that will attend college. They didn’t know how much college would cost, how much they should save and how much they were going to need to retire. I showed them how to save over $18,000 in taxes oriented around college funding by finding new ways to save on income taxes. I call these savings a “Tax Scholarship.” That might mean an additional $200,000 for retirement or a more expensive college for their kids.

How can we maximize our LinkedIn profile?

  1. Make sure you are using the right keywords, ones your prospective clients / customers would be searching for when looking for someone in your field.  You can do research in both LinkedIn as well as Google Keywords.
  2. Make sure you have a personalised URL – not a jumbled one you automatically get from LinkedIn e.g.:
  3. Make sure it’s complete, not unlike your resume, add as much detail as you can
  4. Add any projects, presentations, videos that show your work and expertise, something you can not do in a resume
  5. Give and Get Recommendations
  6. Have a photo that aligns to your personal brand. 
  7. Be active, I hate looking at a profile that hasn’t been active for months

How has the way you use LinkedIn changed over the last couple years?

Like all social media channels we are being overwhelmed with content growing exponentially. 

In principle most business owners and job seekers are still not using the channel anywhere near it’s potential.

Video Rules Everywhere and of course on LinkedIn.

Some of the very cool productivity features have disappeared

Some features have become paid when they used to be free

You write and edit your own profile on LinkedIn, is it a trustworthy place for information? 

Depends on what you mean by Trustworthy. When compared to a traditional resume – then much more so. You can very quickly check references and do your due diligence as the network is much more transparent. Eg.: you don’t have to speak with provided references but to the applicant’s actual network. 

Like all social media information one should check references to make sure that your sources are reputable and information is correct.

What makes a LinkedIn profile look professional? Can you give us some tips?

Some of this is answered under Maximizing your LinkedIn Profile question. Most importantly is to be authentic in your interactions. From the way you invite people to connect, to the way you accept invitations to the way you approach people with a message. Most people unfortunately still do not follow the most basic of marketing / sales rules when approaching a prospect on LinkedIn – they don’t tell you quickly and concisely WIFM – What’s In It For Me?

Here’s one of literally hundreds of messages in the sea of sameness that waste opportunities:

Don’t know about most people, but I suggest they are like me – they have many better and more important things to do than having a chat for the sake of it, with no objectives and no synergy being outlined.

How important is it to have recommendations from others on your profile?

Very. They are like testimonials on a website or in an advertisement. No one ever puts negative ones up, and everyone knows this but testimonials or recommendations are an extremely powerful way of getting your customers to do the selling for you. Just put yourself into the customer’s shoes – if you go to a review site or look at 2 products and one has 50 recommendations and another only 20, you are much more likely to pick the one that has more. It’s as simple as that.

Are you actively using LinkedIn to share and engage with your high-value prospects?

Yes, especially when I was consulting. In my current role as described for the reasons above, it is much less relevant to my current role.

The whale purpose of producing content is to deliver value to your customers and prospects. Give, Give, Give. Pretty much everything can now be found for FREE online. The objective is to be the person, brand that is remembered for providing value. Tell them what to do and even tell them how to do it. A very large and lucrative segment of your market will still be unable or unwilling to spend time (money) doing it themselves and will need someone to do it for them, and you want to be the first person / brand that pops into their mind. 

How to create a strong personal brand?

This is essentially the same question as “How to Stand out on LinkedIn” – this is what a brand is – it differentiates and grabs attention. Here are some basics:

  • Be Real and Authentic
  • Be interesting and Be interested in others 
  • Communicate with stories where you can, they are more powerful, being more memorable and relatable
  • Deliver Value to everyone you can 
  • Keep your promises
  • Be very precise about who you work with / who you can help (target audience)
  • Focus – All things to all people means nothing to anybody. 
  • The greatest weakness in the competition is that most are trying to do everything and be everything to everybody. Result is mediocrity.
    • Sacrifice – To own something we need to give up something else.
  • “An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore” Simplicity – Edward de Bono, 1998
  • Don’t do / accept work that is not 100% aligned to your expertise – recommend other people who you trust and know will do a good job
  • Surprise and Delight, provide the WOW factor at every possible interaction / touchpoint.

What is the best way to engage with your audience?

This is SUCH a broad question. Are we talking format (email, phone/zoom call, video content, etc) or content?

There are so many endless permutations. My rule of thumb is:

Provide content that is topical and valuable to your target audience and via the channel that is tailored to their preferred means of communication. 

In general the shorter and more visual the better. Everyone is time poor and the battle for attention gets more intense every day. If you look at your own stream of updates in LinkedIn, the simpler format that is incredibly clear and comprehensible within a split second is the most “popular”. People scan and no longer read. Strong headlines and powerful images almost always win this battle for attention. 

How do you create content to add value and amplify your expertise?

“Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same —plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader, listener, or viewer!” – Brian Clark. Founder, Copyblogger!

You need a CONTENT plan. One that adds value to your target audience and illustrates your expertise as well as how you can help them. 

Most businesses and individuals on LinkedIn sadly still don’t have one. 

  1. Research / Listen to the types of discussions about your product or service category going on in social media, i.e.: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Ask clients and prospects what they want!
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Guest Blogging
  4. Content Curation – Make sure you are adding value
    1. Agree
    2. Disagree
    3. Provide a different perspective

Once you have the content (blog, video, infographic) you are only 20% there, the 80% of the effort of content marketing is to make sure you get your target audience to see it and engage with it. Promote, Promote, Promote:

  1. Find Bloggers who will share your blog posts, use the law of reciprocity! Give / Share first!
  2. Share on all your Social Media properties; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.
  3. Promote throughout your website. 
  4. Promote at Events and Presentations
  5. Email Signatures, Business Cards
  6. Contest that requires other bloggers to link to you

Then measure your performance:

  • Google Analytics, 
  • Use Google Analytics
  • Analyze by total visits, by individual posts, etc
  • Examine the most successful articles
  • Examine leads from blog and by blog
  • Visitors v Subscribers
  • Track Inbound Links by blog post
  • Track Social Media Shares

Do you want more leads?

With ColdInbox you can send automated LinkedIn messages to your high-value prospects.

Do you want more leads?

With ColdInbox you can send automated LinkedIn messages to your high-value prospects.

ColdInbox is the simplest App to send automated LinkedIn Messages.


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