LinkedIn is an online network of professional people from all over the world. While it all too often gets lumped in with other social media sites, LinkedIn is probably the most widely used social network for business networking, with a focus on professionals.
If you’re in business, then you already know how vital networking is. Associating with like-minded individuals and finding people who can send new customers your way is crucial to growing your business. LinkedIn does this, and it does it better than anything else we’ve found - bringing businesses and professionals together to help one another.
“Cool,” you say. So, you take our advice and sign up for LinkedIn. Having an account is only half the battle, though. There’s still much to do to maximize the effectiveness of what LinkedIn can offer. The checklist below provides some of the best practices for your LinkedIn success.
Add Your Photo
Yeah, yeah – we hate our picture being taken too, but trust us - you need to add a profile picture. Profiles without a quality photo will just be ignored. Having said that, just don’t upload any old photo. You may really like that Christmas pic of you in your footed pajamas holding your new cookware set, but do you really want that photo to representing you to a very large business community like LinkedIn? Likewise, standing in front of the bathroom mirror while you take a picture of yourself flexing your biceps may seem like a neat idea at the time, but let those beers wear off before you post the photo. You may change your mind when you can think clearer.
If you or your business can afford it, have your picture taken professionally. If not, then at least borrow a good digital camera. Be aware of your location, your wardrobe and make sure there’s enough light. Remember, LinkedIn photos are small, so it’s best to go with a head and shoulders photo rather than a full body shot.
Finish Your Profile
Make sure your profile is 100% filled out before sending out invites to connect. You don’t want people visiting your page and thinking you were too lazy to upload a photo or post career info, etc. It’s like trying to sell something before you introduce yourself and you’ll be considered a social spammer. A completed profile will increase your chance of success and show other professionals that you finish your work.
Personalize Your Profile URL
We’ve all seen profiles like www.LinkedIn.com/r672kq083gh34. Yeah… just try to remember that. Instead, make your profile URL something that sticks in people’s mind. You can always make it you or your company’s name, but you can also make it something that describes your what you do, like www.LinkedIn.com/wholesalefurniture4U.
Answer Questions from Members
One of the benefits of answering questions on LinkedIn is that, over a period of time, you will be considered an authority on a particular subject and people will come to you for answers. For your efforts, LinkedIn will place a white and green star next to your name, indicating you are an expert. This is a great way to boost your credibility and increase the awareness of your brand or company.
Oh, and you’ll be helping others too. There’s certainly nothing wrong with feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside now and then.
A valid recommendation from a peer or former business associate can be extremely helpful in building a solid reputation on LinkedIn and holds more credence than what you say about yourself. Just make sure that the person you request knows you well and is / was in a position to recommend you. You don’t want to put someone in the awkward position of having to reject your request.
Of course, the best way to get someone to write you a recommendation is to first write one about them (see below).
If you are in a position to write a positive recommendation about someone, we highly recommend doing so. You’re doing the individual a big favor for which they’ll no doubt be appreciative. Most likely they’ll return the favor by writing a recommendation for you, but don’t expect it or be angry if they don’t. Make it come from the goodness of your heart. Writing recommendations increases your exposure and shows that you’re not just thinking about yourself all the time.
Just make sure you’re sincere, genuine, and above all, truthful when writing a recommendation.
Include Outbound Links
LinkedIn allows your profile to have three outbound links, like “My Website”, “My Blog”, etc. You can also link to other blogs. It all helps boost your SEO and makes those bloggers aware you’re reading their content.
One helpful hint: Change all three outbound links to “Other” then use key words to describe them, i.e. “SEO Tips for LinkedIn”. Those keywords will increase your SEO even more.
Join Industry Groups
There are nearly 700,000 groups on LinkedIn, so choosing the right ones can be a confusing task. We recommend that you first choose groups within your own industry. This helps you network, find potential joint venture partners and even find a job if you need one.
It’s also helpful to look at some of your own clients and see what groups they belong to and join a few. This can impress your client and help strengthen your relationship with them.
You can join up to 50 groups. Once you’ve joined a group, take some time to lurk before jumping in with questions and answers. Get a feel for the tone of the group first and you’ll be better prepared to fit in, rather than jumping the gun and saying something ignorant, which might get you exiled.
Add Your Company Profile
Adding your company profile to LinkedIn is a great way to increase awareness of your company among professionals. Users can follow your organization’s updates such as product launches, new services and personnel hires.
LinkedIn company profiles also tend to have a high page rank, so your profile will get more exposure from search results.
Post Job Openings
Since there are more professionals on LinkedIn than you can shake a stick at (over 90 million members), it makes sense to post job openings on your profile. You will most likely get a higher quality of qualified responses there than any other site.
Keep Your Profile Current
You’ve spent time and effort to create your LinkedIn profile, but you’ll be wasting all that work if you don’t keep your profile current. Make sure your recent accomplishments and successes are posted in a timely manner and are up to date.
In many ways, LinkedIn is more important than your resume. Treat it that way and make a point to log in regularly and check your profile to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
Integrate with Other Social Media
If you have a Twitter account or blog, they should be integrated with your LinkedIn account for maximum exposure. LinkedIn makes it simple to integrate them into your profile page.
If you would like further information about how LinkedIn can help grow your business, please contact one of our friendly Captivation representatives today. See how we can reduce your operating expenses, increase your productivity and make your company more competitive.