According to some recent stats, LinkedIn has now 300 million active users, which puts it in second place (after Facebook) in the social media network race. However, when it comes to LinkedIn, the majority of people seem to put in minimum effort, simply upload a recent-ish version of their CV and spend about a minute writing a profile summary.
The first thing you need to decide on is your LinkedIn objective: thought leadership, lead generation or find a new job (secretly or openly). These are the main three goals that LinkedIn can achieve for you very successfully. If you want to find new friends or go on a date, you’re probably on the wrong platform.
Whatever your objective, you need to do some house keeping first, so here goes:
Photo: choose a professional photo that looks like you at work. Be either front facing or left facing (looking towards your content).
When editing your profile, go to your privacy controls. Turn off activity broadcasts and change the setting to “select who can see your activity feed” to “only you”. This will stop your connections getting updates every time you change your photo or revise your profile summary, which can be really annoying. Obviously, the exception to this is when you want a public update for a new job or promotion.
Your profile should look like your résumé. Try to give it a conversational style and mention values, passions etc. The goal is to make people who read it want to contact you so be different and personal where appropriate.
Be professionally opinionated: include your professional viewpoint in your profile and share it in your groups where appropriate. This will differentiate you from the competition.
Re-organise your content in your profile and put forward the strengths that matter to your objectives. So for instance if you wish to establish yourself as a thought leader, mention previous public speaking engagements or article / blog publications.
Don’t include every detail of previous and current jobs, only what matters. If past roles do not make sense with the current skill sets your wish to enhance, take them off.
If you’ve changed name(s), include them in the ‘former name’ field so that people can find you.
Make sure your contact information is updated and include links to your Twitter or other profiles/ blogs.
LinkedIn is not FB or Twitter. Personal updates will look inappropriate on it so watch your posting behaviour. Depending on the reach and visibility you wish to achieve, you should aim to post up to 20 times a month according to LinkedIn but remain professional and do not spam your network. LinkedIn states that ‘companies that post 20 times a month on average reach 60% of their followers with 1 or more update’ – which is pretty high compared to other blogging sites so bear this in mind.
Only reach out to connections when you are 100% happy with your profile and 500+ contacts is the holy grail to aim for.
For job seekers, whether you are openly or secretly looking, take a look at these two profile summaries – which are one of the best ones I’ve come across.
2. Groups Opportunity
Groups are one of the most active areas of LinkedIn and allow like-minded people (within specific sectors or with similar interests) to solve work-related issues, share new ideas, get industry insight, find suppliers, etc.
Join the groups that relate to your objectives on LinkedIn (you can then ask members to be part of your network, without upgrading to Premium, which is one way to bypass the paying option).
Don’t limit your groups: they give you access to more people (expertise, industry, social causes, hobbies…). If you work for a search marketing company for instance, don’t limit yourself to search industry groups but instead widen your reach by also belonging to digital marketing or other marketing groups. Be aware that belonging to a group will enhance your brand and increase visibility so follow group etiquette.
Ask your connections to only endorse you for your top 4/5 skills only. Having those skills endorsed by most of your contacts will influence people looking at your profile (but if too many skills are on there, it’ll dilute your endorsements’ influence.
4. Lead Generation Goal
If you wish to reach out to specific people but you need to have Premium to do so, sign up for a month, do all the networking you need and cancel the subscription after that month. Great way to do a huge lead generation drive in a condensed way.
If you wish to check out potential clients or competitors or keep your agenda hidden, change your viewing settings to “anonymous” in “Select what others see when you’re viewing their profile”.
Don’t limit your network to only people you know as LinkedIn recommends.
Use groups to generate leads by participating to discussions where potential clients might be. If somebody replies back or thank you for your comments or help you’ve provided, ask them to join your Network to start a building a relationship.
Ask for recommendations: they can really boost business by enhancing trust and strengthen your profile (they’re a bit like reviews online).
5. Thought Leadership
The best places to start expressing your unique professional opinion(s) to promote yourself as a thought leaders are:
On your profile summary with relevant professional views.
On updates: sharing and posting relevant thought provoking content.
On Pulse, the LinkedIn publishing platform: regularly publish an explanation of your professional view for current issues, opportunities or trends in your industry.
Link to your blog and Twitter profile.
6. Pulse – LinkedIn Publishing Platform
You need to publish content on Pulse, it will extend your reach, visibility and network, but keep your goal in mind.
For lead generation, a sales person could create a post about how their company’s services or products solved a customer’s problem (but avoid the ‘pitch’ angle).
Remember that, according to LinkedIn, 60% of their members are interested in industry insight, 53% are interested in company news and 43% are interested in product and services. So if you are a SEO company for instance, focus on really good advice and tips, rather than selling your services.
Make sure you get feedback on your post BEFORE you publish it because professional reputations are important and this is a public platform.
Guest Author: Christelle Macri
Christelle Macri is the founder of Ebizpromotion, a leading SEO company in Berkshire, with a no-nonsense and ethical approach to digital marketing. She is also search engine consultant with over 17 years experience in the internet advertising industry.