It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms for businesspeople. Within a single page, you are able to learn about a prospect, colleague or potential hire’s current employment status, skills, expertise, job history and more. Similarly, others are able to learn about your background and experience, which could lead to potential business and opportunities. But are you fully utilizing LinkedIn to build your business?
Often, a person’s LinkedIn profile is the first impression. For example, you’re meeting with a prospect later on in the day and decide to do a little research, most likely viewing the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. In fact, Linked reports that members conducted 5.7 billion professional searches in 2012 alone. Since then, membership has grown astronomically, and so has potential searches. A professional headshot is vital and can be the first time you present yourself and image. Avoid pictures that are too creative or amateur, and shoot for a solid, non-cluttered background. According to Nicole Williams in her LinkedIn blog post, “Professional Photos on LinkedIn Are Worth a Thousand Opportunities,” including a picture increases the likelihood your profile is viewed by 11 times.
Make sure to keep all job history, including your current job headline, up-to-date and professional. This also includes the description, which gives you the opportunity to highlight your jobs responsibilities and experience. Also, remember that you are more than a 9-5 job. You have interests and are involved in other activities, so don’t shy away from highlighting networking groups, membership organizations and affiliations. According to LinkedIn’s surveys, members post and discuss topics in more than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups. So if you’re a part of of an organization, find and list them on LinkedIn.
Also, don’t make it difficult for others to connect with you. While LinkedIn Mail allows users to send messages, there are some parameters based on the user’s LinkedIn plan. In the “Contact Info” section of your profile, add email addresses and phone numbers, including business and personal. Use the website feature to add relevant websites, such as a company page, blog or other social media accounts.
Connecting to Others
When building your LinkedIn network of contacts, more is not necessarily better, so aim to be selective. You want a trusted, reputable ground of people who you have or wish to do business with in the future. Utilize the “People You May Know” tool, and regularly weed through your connections and remove those who are no longer relevant.
The “Skills” feature on the LinkedIn profile is also beneficial. Not only can you highlight your own skills or see those of others, but you’re able to see first-hand endorsements. Once connected to a person, you are able validate the skills of others. For example, when viewing the profile of a previous co-worker, I’m able to endorse her for skills that I felt she excelled in. Not only should you list a variety of skills for others to endorse, but you should endorse your connections, as well. This is an easy way to engage with connections and will provide validation that the skills listed are legitimate. Similarly, ask colleagues and co-workers for recommendations, as these will provide added value to your profile.
Content can be a powerful tool for building business on LinkedIn, whether you’re sharing a blog from your company’s LinkedIn page or posting an article you believe will interest your connections, Establishing yourself as a thought leader in a particular market or industry positions you as a go-to resource on the subject matter and can lead to opportunities for networking, speaking engagements and beyond. So why not start by building this reputation among your own network of connections? For example, you have the opportunity to share exciting news about, for example, your company’s new service line or an industry article that features a quote from you to further illustrate your expertise.
Whether you’re re-connecting with an old client, learning about a prospect or seeking recommendations from your co-workers, LinkedIn has a variety of tools to help you leverage your business and yourself. By fully utilizing its features, you’re able to better highlight your experience and expertise, while also making stronger connections and keeping yourself at the top of their minds.