When I meet a professional, one of the first things I do is look them up on LinkedIn. You get one guess to figure out what I did when a CEO and founder of a company contacted me about some writing work.
Indeed, I checked him out on LinkedIn.
Immediately, I noticed he didn’t have a profile photo.
No one should pass go until a photo has been uploaded to LinkedIn. I gently suggested this to him.
“Joe” explained that he had a long, successful career and could join his wife in retirement. He didn’t because he loved his company’s work and wanted to grow the business. He didn’t feel the need to have an active or complete LinkedIn profile.
But LinkedIn is valuable for much more than finding a job and employees. Joe sells his product to big companies all around the world. Having a complete LinkedIn profile builds credibility and trust. Executives at these companies may do their due diligence on LinkedIn and elsewhere before taking a meeting with him.
People are going to look you up. And LinkedIn profiles tend to appear at the top of the first page in search engine results. You may not be able to control search engine results, but you can control what people learn about you. A carefully created LinkedIn profile lets you accomplish that.
Filling in many of the blanks won’t be enough. How you go about fleshing out your profile depends on your LinkedIn goals. A job seeker has different purpose than a business owner looking to grow business. They would craft their profiles and interact on LinkedIn differently.
Here are 10 things you can do on LinkedIn to grow your business.
1. Upload a good quality headshot.
Many people won’t bother connecting if there’s no profile photo. Some try to be cute by using photos of animals and things related to their profession. In doing this, they’re actually violating LinkedIn’s profile photo guidelines and conditions: “Your photo can be removed by LinkedIn if your profile image doesn’t include your likeness or a headshot photo.”
Some try to use a cropped image from a group photo. This looks unprofessional. The only time you would do this is if you don’t have any headshots. Go ahead, but schedule a headshot photo session ASAP. Not all of them are pricey. A mall or store photographer can do a good job.
In deciding on a color for your outfit and background, the trick is to make sure your face and what you’re wearing have a strong contrast to the background. For example, light-skinned professionals who wear a white shirt on a white background will look washed out. Ensure your eyes show, you’re wearing a proper outfit that reflects you, and smile.
2. Make your headline stand out.
When people search on LinkedIn, the headline is one of the first things they see. Whenever you post an update, your headline may show up on your connections’ front page.
Your headline can be up to 120 characters. You’ll want to say something more than your job title and company name. By default, the company name appears under Current at the top of the profile. You’re not required to use your exact job title. Some job titles have little meaning to outsiders. Create a headline that communicates what you do for your clients … clearly and quickly. From time to time, you might want to update your headline to mention something current or promote an upcoming event.
3. Use important keywords — repeatedly.
Sometimes the keywords a professional uses and the ones prospects use don’t match. Ask your clients what terms would they use to find someone who offers the services they need from your company? Once you have a list, sprinkle these keywords and phrases throughout your profile, but don’t pile it on because it looks spammy.
4. Make the most of your Summary.
This is second most important part of your profile. The Summary is a narrative that tells your professional story. You have 2,000 characters to do this.
Picture one of your favorite clients. Write like you’re talking to the client and in the first person. It’ll sound conversational and help your personality shine.
One way to do this is to tell a story of a client’s problem and how you solved it. Bullet points with * or – can help make the text more readable. End the Summary with contact information, a call to action, or both.
5. Explain what problems you solve.
Most profiles, unintentional or not, read like someone searching for a job. That’s not what you want to do. You want to connect with prospects and partners. To do this, your profile should describe a typical prospect’s pain points and what happens if it doesn’t get solved. Explain how your company solves the problem and provide measurable results. This info can appear in the Summary and current job description.
6. Post status update once a week.
Your status updates may appear on your connections’ LinkedIn home page. It could be the first thing people notice and share. Your connections may have connections who would be an ideal prospect. When people share your update, your prospects may see it. If the update is valuable, then they might go to your profile to learn more.
Regular updates keep your profile fresh, demonstrate your expertise when you add thoughtful commentary, and keep you top of mind with your clients who might refer you to others or buy more from you.
7. Join Groups.
LinkedIn users often make the mistake of joining and participating in groups consisting mainly of their colleagues, not their prospects. Since you can join up to 50 groups, some of these can be in your industry to help you stay on top of it. Participating in groups with your prospects allows you to reach them and eventually connect.
Before joining a group, make sure that you’re allowed to join. Some groups target your prospects, but keep out vendors who sell to that target market. Read the posts to familiarize yourself with the group and to verify the group is active. After reading enough discussions, aim to contribute at least once a week. Ask questions, share knowledge, and help people without asking for anything in return. Be a resource and prospects will notice you.
8. Get recommendations.
If you are trying to decide between two products where one has more than 1,000 positive reviews and the other has ten, which would you pick? Referrals are powerful.
Instead of product reviews, LinkedIn Recommendations could be considered the reviews of professionals. Recommendations from direct reports is great. Those from clients and partners are better.
A good way to obtain a recommendation is to write one. Most people will return the favor. You can also ask for recommendations. Don’t ask for too many at once. Spread out the requests to avoid having a bunch of reviews from the same timeframe.
9. Manage your endorsements.
Did you know you could rearrange your endorsements to put your most important skills at the top and the least important at the bottom? You can also delete or hide irrelevant skills. Unless you need to make room for more skills, hide irrelevant skills. You never know if that skill will become relevant again.
The best way to get endorsements is to endorse other people for their skills. Like with recommendations, target your clients and partners. Each one only takes a few seconds. Do 10 on a weekly basis and you should be able to build up your endorsements nicely.
10. Create reminders for follow ups.
If you find out something about one of your connections, note it and create a reminder. For example, a client’s daughter is getting married next weekend. Go to the client’s profile to create a reminder. You can write “Congratulate on daughter’s recent wedding” and set it to remind you in one week. LinkedIn will remind you by sending you an email and posting it on your LinkedIn Contacts page. When you do this consistently, your clients will be impressed and you’ll stay top of mind.
These 10 easy, actionable ways will ensure you make the most of LinkedIn and grow your business. Now make a commitment by setting aside time to catch up on LinkedIn and put it in your calendar. An hour or two a week can make a big difference.
Image credit: C_osett