LinkedIn is an obvious choice for professional services businesses and is a great way for these businesses to produce content to establish themselves as an authority in their field. It is also great for building a database of contacts.
With more than 675 million users worldwide, and 10 million Australians, the network provides an opportunity to develop strong business connections with a large number of people.
You’ll hear many people describing LinkedIn as a professional Facebook.
And I can’t tell you how true this is. Last year one of my LinkedIn connections and acquaintances posted a blog post to both Facebook and LinkedIn.
The picture that went with the blog, so like the header picture, was of women in bathing suits – which I have to admit I thought was a bit odd considering this person was a LinkedIn expert – not really talking about bathing suits in the blog post – so a photo put there for “stopping the scroll” eye catching purposes rather than related to the blog post.
To see the different reactions on the different platforms almost blew my mind. Seriously, the people on Facebook were like hungry pack of dogs. Ripping into this person with statements about women’s rights and sexism and using sex to sell – an absolute shamble and so detrimental to a brand.
However, same article, same picture on LinkedIn was dealt with by a single person requesting that the picture be changed because it really wasn’t appropriate for the article written – to which the author responded with a “sure, deepest apologies”. That was it.
The professionalism of LinkedIn was evident. We’re all professionals – the article wasn’t so professional but like professionals and rational people, we simply said “hey, I think you should take it down”.
On Facebook, it was like a war declared on a small country. Disgraceful really.
Have you seen any examples like this?
So that’s why calling LinkedIn a professional Facebook rings true to me.
Is LinkedIn for you?
If you want to grow your network, do online networking, set yourself in your industry as the expert, go to person, create opportunities including employment and/or business ventures, then I think it’s for you. Or if you’re sick of the trolls on Facebook – maybe it’s for you too!
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the Google ranking of LinkedIn. Google anyone’s name and if they have a LinkedIn profile – chances are it will come up in the first couple of search results. We can spend $1000’s on keywords to get a ranking like that or we can have a LinkedIn profile! Money for jam, I’d say!
Despite the social nature of LinkedIn, it is very different than other social media networks like Facebook or Twitter so that’s why I thought I’d give you some tips for using it or using it better here today.
- Must Do: Keep Your Profile Basics Updated!
Many people forget to keep their LinkedIn profiles updated. Whether you’re a total newbie, just starting a new job, or starting to explore new opportunities, there’s no excuse to have outdated information on LinkedIn. It will reflect badly on you.
Here are two quick and easy areas you must check are up to date:
Professional Headline: The job of any headline is to entice people to click. At minimum, you can use your headline to highlight your current position and company (e.g., “Director of Inbound Marketing at ABCXYZ Corporation”), but you can and should go further. Highlight your expertise (e.g., “Content Marketing Strategist and Copywriter”) or awards or showcase skills you want to turn up in searches (e.g., “Speaker, Trainer, Author, Consultant, Evangelist”). Tell everyone on LinkedIn who you are, what you do, and why you’re someone they need to connect with.
Location and Industry: Are your location and industry still accurate? If not, fix them now!
Doing these two simple things will help more people find you and help you find more relevant potential contacts.
- Only Use Professional Photos
LinkedIn profiles that have a picture are 11 times more likely to be viewed. So, if you’re still showing a silhouette, it’s time to make a change and reveal yourself.
However, some friendly advice:
Your LinkedIn photo shouldn’t be from 20 years ago. It shouldn’t look like it belongs on a dating site, stock photo site, or social network (e.g., Facebook or Instagram). And don’t feature your pet or significant other. Just. No.
LinkedIn is for professionals. Be one.
- Brand Your Profile With a Background Photo
If your LinkedIn profile still has no background photo, then it’s time to change that.
Give your profile page a bit more personality, or branding, with a visually appealing background image. If the image can let your audience know what you do, then even better. For example, if you’re a speaker, maybe your photo is of you on stage speaking.
LinkedIn advises users to use an image (PNG, JPG, or GIF) with a resolution of 1400×425.
Canva.com has templates already set up for you to do your LinkedIn banner – it’s easy!
- Write a Ridiculously Good “About” Summary
This is where you really sell yourself to potential connections. Your summary should expand on what appears in your headline, highlighting your specialties, career experience, noteworthy accolades, and thought leadership.
There has been much discussion about whether it’s best to write in first-person versus third-person narrative here. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter either way — just stay consistent with whichever you choose. Don’t go back and forth between first person and third person as it’s confusing and signals a lack of attention to detail.
In summary of LinkedIn summaries: keep your ego in check, focus on the most relevant details about your career, avoid meaningless jargon, and ensure it’s easy to read.
Oh, and make sure there are no typos!
- Use Keywords With Intent
Words are so incredibly important, especially when search is a big part of the equation. Using the right keywords in your profile is the difference between being found and being invisible.
Identify the words you want to be found for when people use LinkedIn search and use those keywords in your headline, summary, and profile. Using the right keywords will expose you to more potential connections and opportunities.
- Neat Trick: Pick the “Other” Website Option
Under your Contact Info, LinkedIn gives you the option to link to a website or blog. But by default, the text that shows in your profile is the extremely dull “Blog” or “Website.” Anyone visiting your profile has no clue where they’ll end up if they click on that.
Want to use your actual brand or business name? You can! Here’s a simple little trick.
When editing the Websites area of your profile, select the “Other” option. Now you can add your own website title and URL.
- Personalize Your LinkedIn Profile URL
When you created your LinkedIn profile, it had some ugly combination of letters, numbers, and backslashes that had no value for your personal branding. You don’t still have this, right?
If you do, it’s time to customize your public profile URL. For example, my customized URL is https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenndonovan. LinkedIn makes it simple to keep your profile consistent with your other social profiles.
- Add Shiny New Sections to Your Profile
LinkedIn lets you add several sections to give your profile more visual appeal and depth. You can add sections for posts, volunteering, languages, honours and awards, patents, causes you care about, and many more.
All these sections open you up to more opportunities to make new connections.
- Tidy Up Your Endorsements
People are going to endorse you for all sorts of skills — sometimes even skills you don’t actually have. But just because you’ve been endorsed for Fire Eating, Chewing Gum, or Showers (yes, these are all real “areas of expertise,” according to LinkedIn) doesn’t mean you have to show other LinkedIn users — unless, of course, fire eating plays a critical role in your professional life.
LinkedIn lets you remove any irrelevant skills and endorsements. You should avoid “lying” about your skill set, even if it is by omission.
- Connect With People You Don’t Yet Know
One of the biggest mistakes people make on LinkedIn is failing to reach out to connect with people you want to know but don’t yet. That’s the whole point of networking — getting to know new people, not just established connections.
Building out your LinkedIn network has many benefits. You get in front of influencers. You get more endorsements. More people see your best content, share that content, and visit your website. And it’s great for personal branding.
Have you considered using LinkedIn more like Twitter? You should!
- Personalise Invitations to Connect
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
The default message LinkedIn provides is so dreadfully boring and impersonal.
When you invite someone to connect, make it more personal — mention where you met or a topic you discussed in a LinkedIn group, over email, or during a phone interview. This personal touch will increase the odds they’ll accept your request.
And when someone accepts your request to connect, don’t start pitching your service or product. This is a relationship killer.
Start slow. Comment on, share, or Like their posts.
LinkedIn even makes it super simple to stay in touch, telling you when contacts are celebrating work anniversaries or starting new jobs. Again, these are opportunities to Like or comment.
Build the relationship and trust before you start asking for favours!
- Publish Amazing Posts
LinkedIn posts offer another way to grow your influence, gain more visibility, and acquire new followers.
Your existing connections are notified whenever you publish. New people can discover your posts via search.
Always think about the audience you want to reach. Highlight your expertise and interests by posting awesome content. Just make sure your posts are appropriate for the 400 million business professionals who use LinkedIn.
- Find and Join Groups
One way to start connecting with people you want to know is to join LinkedIn groups. Whether it’s a group run by a major publication, a group for people with certain job titles, or a group dedicated to a niche topic, there are millions of groups to choose from, so start searching to find groups that are right for you and join them.
Join discussions. Start interesting discussions. Don’t sell your product or service or promote yourself — sell your expertise! That will help build your personal brand.
- Remember Where and When You Met What’s-His-Name
Once you’ve grown your network to thousands, it can be a bit daunting to remember every single person, or to stay in touch with a few important connections.
Luckily, LinkedIn makes this easy. In the Relationship section, in addition to telling you the date when you connected, LinkedIn allows you to write notes about your contact, including how you met, or set reminders to “check in” at intervals from a day to every year.
Don’t worry, these notes and reminders are only visible to you!
- Use (but Don’t Abuse) Status Updates
LinkedIn status updates are your chance to highlight some of your recent work, share an article or book you’ve read, promote your presence at a conference or event, or offer inspiration through a quote or saying.
Because LinkedIn is a business network, it’s best to use it during business hours. Keep active, but don’t go overboard.
Try to post an update at least once a day at minimum; aim for a maximum of three or four updates per day, as long as you’re sharing useful, relevant content. Every update is another opportunity to strengthen or forge a connection.
- Ask for Recommendations
So, you haven’t received as many LinkedIn recommendations as you’d like? After all, it takes a bit of time and thought for someone to write a recommendation.
What can you do? Ask for them! LinkedIn makes is super easy, providing an “Ask to be recommended” link, where you can specify what you want to be recommended for, who you want to recommend you, and write a personal message.
Pick specific people. Don’t just randomly ask all your contacts if they can recommend you. Be selective.
Share details in your message to your connection. If there are specific skills you want your contacts to highlight in his or her recommendation, don’t be shy, tell them.
Another way to increase the likelihood that you’ll get a great recommendation: Give a great recommendation to someone you’ve worked with. This increases the odds that your contact will feel obligated to return the favour.
Bonus Tip: Export Your LinkedIn Connections
One last helpful tip: Remember to occasionally download your connections. After you’ve gone to all the trouble of building an amazing network, you don’t want to risk losing their contact info!
- Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
- Select Settings & Privacy from the dropdown.
- Under the How LinkedIn uses your data section, you’ll find Get a copy of your Data.
- You then then select Connections from the “Want something in particular?” section.
- Then select Request archive – and you may be prompted to enter your LinkedIn password.
- You will receive an email to your Primary Email address which will include a link where you can download your list of connections.
Now you have a file containing your contacts’ first and last names, email addresses, job titles, and companies. Which you could then upload into Facebook and serve them an ad for something you think they would be interested in.
Now you know everything you need to do to refresh your LinkedIn profile. Make yourself look amazing, wow future connections, and grow your influence. It all starts with a killer profile.
What are you waiting for? Get updating now!
Be a Unicorn in a Sea of Donkeys!
Now – go get social and continue this conversation in my Facebook Group – Like Minded Business Owners. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Feel free to leave me a DM on Facebook or Instagram with any comments or ideas (including fab discoveries)! The DMs seriously make my day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenn Donovan is a marketing strategist and social media extraordinaire, coach and mentor to savvy business owners. Owner and Founder of Social Media & Marketing Australia.
With a passion for making business simple, because it’s isn’t easy but it should be simple or at least simpler, she’s built a reputation for helping other small business owners simplify their marketing and businesses so they can reach their goals, be more profitable and live the dream (finding the freedom they set out to achieve when they started … the illusive small business owner freedom dream …!)
Jenn believes in giving before asking and that’s why she’s the host of the popular Small Business Made Simple Podcast