At the start of every new year, we see a spike in social media activity and incoming questions about how to be more successful in social media. A lot of these inquiries come from business people making new year’s resolutions to do a better job of managing and engaging with their customers via social media. Knowing this season is just around the corner, we’re going to walk through a practical, up-to-date series on how to maximize your social media profiles to generate more leads and greater profit.
We’re going to kick off this series with maximizing your LinkedIn profile. In this post we’re going to cover the following key tactics:
1. Develop a content strategy and publish content
LinkedIn allows you to publish content in three primary ways: updates, photos, and articles. Publishing an update is similar to Facebook, but you will want to stay away from personal posts and stick to business-friendly topics. Focus your updates on results, achievements, and industry evolutions.
Consider sharing helpful articles and tips for your clients. Articles are longer-form pieces that will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of your industry and topics. Publishing thoughtful, well-written articles can help establish you as a thought-leader with your clients and contacts. Develop a strategy for the types of information you would like your clients to see from you, then create a posting schedule. Being consistent with your posting schedule is important. If you can’t commit to writing regular articles, we suggest that you post consistent updates instead. A series of 3 articles from 5 years ago, followed by a stretch of “radio silence,” never looks good.
2. Choose a professional photo
Your photo has a tremendous amount of impact on the success of your LinkedIn profile. In fact, there is statistic that indicates a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile can result in 14 times more profile views. What makes a good photo? First, you need to look professional–even if your company culture is casual. Dress nicely and make sure you have done your hair for the day. Next, when cropping your photo, make sure it fills the frame of your profile box and features only you. We would highly suggest choosing a familiar photo that is used on other key business social networks, so people that know you from Twitter will recognize you on LinkedIn. Most importantly, make sure your photo looks like you. Don’t use a glamor shot that nobody will recognize, or a photo from 10 years ago because you were skinnier. Choose a photo that looks like you do today so people will recognize you.
3. Add a strong headline
The headline is one of the most critical elements to LinkedIn success. The headline is a short statement, usually one sentence in length, that shows along with our name on your profile or in search results. This single statement will help someone decide if they want to click on your profile, or on your competitors. Be specific: tell who you are, what you do, and what results you generate.
4. Optimize your name
Your customers, friends, or acquaintances may be searching for you. Make sure that you’re using your full name, spelled correctly in title case. If you have an alternate or maiden name, you will want to make sure that is included where possible. If you have alternate spellings or shortened versions of your name, be consistent and use the one that your colleagues will recognize you by.
5. Use the right email address
Many people will set up their LinkedIn profile using a different email than they use for day to day business. This is fine, but you will want to make sure that all of your primary business emails are added to your profile as alternate addresses. Your email is often used as a search tool for people to find you via LinkedIn or through other tools and add-ons. Make sure that the email in their address book matches with one attached to your profile, so searchers can find and connect with you.
6. Customize your URL for sharing
LinkedIn allows you to create user-friendly URLs. We suggest creating a custom URL featuring your name that you can share with people. Use this URL in common touch points like your email signature and business cards, so that your contacts can easily find and connect with you on LinkedIn. Every contact has value, and that value grows as you produce and publish more content.
7. Keep your information up-to-date
Remember to keep your profile content up-to-date. It is all too easy to setup your profile once and forget it, but this won’t do you any good. It is critically important to have a detailed description that provides information on who you are and what you do. Provide detailed information about your job history and the results you generated at each stop along the way. Include detail on recent projects, awards, and accolades so that your hard work does not go unnoticed. In short, ensure that your profile is complete and up-to-date.
8. Ask for recommendations
Recommendations rarely happen naturally, but they can be a powerful marketing tool. When you receive a recommendation on LinkedIn it will show on the news feed of information for all of your contacts. A pattern of good recommendations can lead to future contact. Recommendations are also archived on your profile and provide an opportunity for someone evaluating you to find out how others feel about you, and what type of results you generated for your clients. Ask happy clients and colleagues for recommendations, or gain more by first providing recommendations for other people you do business with. Be careful not to go overboard when giving recommendations. Your word is valuable–don’t just give it to anyone! Be as discerning in your recommendation of others, as you would want them to be of you.
9. Add people to your network
Don’t be passive. Get out there and make sure you’re constantly adding new connections. Did you meet a new potential customer? Add them and they will be able to see your newly complete profile, recommendations, and track record. If you publish content they will also be able to see that you are an industry leader. When should you add someone? We suggest whenever you’ve met them in some capacity. This could be through an in-person meeting at a networking event, or following a conversation that was started on social media. You don’t have to be best friends to connect on LinkedIn, and connecting can be a great way to strengthen your relationship.
There are a ton of great tools to help you connect on LinkedIn. If you use Gmail for work or personal purposes, you can automatically load the Linkedin profile of the person you’re emailing. This feature is located to the right of your email pane, and can be accessed by using a tool like Rapportive (https://rapportive.com/). This can save you the effort of going to LinkedIn to search for someone. You can add them directly from your Gmail account!
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the opportunities available to you on LinkedIn, but it is a powerful primer to help you get more value out of your LinkedIn profile with minimal effort.