LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional online network, with over 347 million active users spanning more than 200 countries. It is highly popular with business-to-business users looking to connect, share and discover industry news and knowledge and for those looking for jobs.
What’s Good About LinkedIn?
- It is reflective of ‘the six degrees of separation’ theory as the nature of the site allows you to reach out to new people through your existing connections
- It is useful to look up background information on people before a meeting or interview
What’s not so Good About LinkedIn?
- People use the site for purely professional purposes, so marketing messages and sales are not always welcomed
- More used for business purposes and thus doesn’t play as active a role in people’s daily lives as with other social networks such as Facebook
- LinkedIn is essentially a closed network meaning that you can only interact with users who have given permission to do so. The result of this means your network will not grow without active networking on your part
Who Should be on LinkedIn?
The business nature of LinkedIn means that all professionals should have a presence on LinkedIn including freelancers, bloggers, designers, marketers and any other service providers. There are also opportunities for professional businesses to be on LinkedIn, allowing businesses to develop themselves as authorities in their sector and keep their networks informed with business updates by sharing relevant industry opinions and analysis.
Need to Know Facts, Stats and Tips about LinkedIn
- 18% of UK consumers use LinkedIn, with the 35 – 44 demographic most popular representing 31% of those users (Kantar, July 2013)
- 79% of users are aged 35 and over (LinkedIn, 2014)
- The ideal LinkedIn posting schedule is a minimum of 2x per week and a maximum of 5 x per week (Constant Contact, 2014)
- The ideal image size to use for a standard logo is 100 x 60 pixels. For a square logo it’s 50 x 50 pixels. A Banner image is 646 x 220 pixels and the shared image size limit is 100mb.
Why You Need a LinkedIn Profile
Having a readily available network of other business professionals means there is a resourceful knowledge base where you can learn, discuss and stay on top of industry news. This means you can better expand your knowledge of your business sector and learn tips and tricks from other industry professionals, all of which can benefit you and your business greatly.
Industry Connections and Networking
LinkedIn offers a great platform for connecting with other professionals in your industry. Within the Groups area you can have professional discussions centred on a topic or industry that allows you to share ideas with peers, pick up tips to help your business grow and connect with people who share similar passions. By sharing your expertise and content with customers, members and prospects in a more social environment, you can not only stay in touch with your connections, you can also make it easy for others to share the things you are posting online with their colleagues.
Through group discussions and general engagement, there is plenty of opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise and show yourself as an authority through the content you post. By regularly contributing to LinkedIn with valuable, interesting and relevant industry analysis and comment, it shows that you have a deep interest in your sector and are more informed than the average participant; giving potential clients a compelling reason to choose you over competitors. Moreover, those customers will continue to visit and spread the word to others of your valuable and interesting industry knowledge.
How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Personal Profile
The Profile Summary
The summary area of your LinkedIn Profile constitutes the most important part of the entire page because it is the first thing readers’ scan after reading your name and tagline. For this reason your summary must be compelling. Here are some suggestions that will improve your summary:
- Write it in the first person ‘I am’ etc. as it shows an authenticity that you miss out on when writing in the third person
- Write your Summary in the Who / What / Goals format. Clearly stating who you are, what you do with the final section providing information about your professional goals and aspirations.
- Read your summary and keep asking yourself ‘so what?’ as this will help you to pin point areas for improvement.
Optimise your Profile for SEO Benefit
Suggestions for optimising your LinkedIn Profile for SEO benefit include:
- Customise the URL for your public profile
- Embed keywords strategically throughout your profile
- Try to list up to the maximum of three links in the billboard area (e.g., your business website, your personal website, your blog). When entering the anchor text for the hyperlink, embed as many of your keywords as possible.
Keep Your Network Posted with Status Updates
Keeping your network posted with status updates should be a routine procedure. It gives you the opportunity to share valuable information with your network about what you’re doing. Done right, status updates can engage your followers, create leads, and facilitate customer conversion. Here are some tips on how to optimise your status updates:
- Leverage the power of status updates by embedding special keywords when posting
- Focus on sharing informative and useful updates as that is the information members expect from connections they follow on LinkedIn
- Post status updates encouraging your followers to interact with you and this includes using a clear call to action within your post
- Post regularly and consistently and you will reach more of your audience and extend your reach.
Use Your Profile as a Central Hub
When searching for someone on Google in most cases their LinkedIn profile is seen on the first page with the vast majority appearing in the first five results. This means that you need keep your profile current and up to date to highlight your experience and expertise and in addition requires that your profile needs to become a central source for connecting all of your other social media platforms. LinkedIn has many available tools for you to utilise that can link your profile with your Blog and Twitter feed among others so is a great way to support and drive attention to your other sites.
Add Rich Visual Content to Your LinkedIn Profile
Throughout your profile LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to visually enhance your profile so you need to leverage this opportunity. Give your profile a makeover by adding some up to date, rich, visual content and you will help yourself and your profile stand out from the rest and get your profile noticed. Embracing the visual in social media marketing is highly important so utilise this and share with your audience creative, informative and engaging visual elements such as pictures, SlideShare presentations and videos. A key thing is to also remember not to just create and then forget your newly visual profile, rather, actively update and refresh your profile with current, fresh and valuable content such as examples of new work, recent articles and features in the press.
Connect with New Contacts in Groups
Joining and contributing to LinkedIn Groups helps to locate people with shared interests and establish valuable new connections. In addition to the benefit of increased traffic to your profile page, participating within a Group has the added benefit of learning from others and allows you to highlight your ideas and insight. The more you participate, the more you’ll build credibility and trust within your industry. If you’re contributing valuable content, you will soon improve your own reputation as an invaluable resource on select topics by other industry connections.
Give and Get Recommendations
Recommendations from colleagues, business partners and satisfied clients go a long way in establishing your value and credibility. As either an employee or a business, a recommendation can carry a great deal of weight in the eyes of future customers or employers as they essentially act as solid examples of a good experience with you in a personal manner. If you want to get recommendations, use LinkedIn to give them to people you’ve worked with and who have done a great job for you and they will likely reciprocate. Similarly with the new Endorsement feature, if you endorse someone, they’ll be notified and you’re likely to get a reciprocal endorsement in return.
To ensure you get yourself noticed in the competitive world of business, you need to present yourself online in a way that impresses and builds confidence in your skills, products, and services. Use the checklist below to ensure you create a powerful LinkedIn profile that sells who you are and why you deserve to be noticed.
LinkedIn Professional Profile Checklist
- Professionally Taken Photograph
Your LinkedIn profile is your digital introduction and first impression with your reader. It’s important to look your best and a professionally taken photograph will ensure you are portrayed in the best light.
- Professional Name
You need to present a name that is professional, relevant and representative of what you want to present yourself as to others. Remember to stay away from cheesy and gimmicky names.
- Attention Grabbing Headline
The headline needs to be powerful and draw a reader in and compels them to read on. Use this area to clearly and professionally show to others how you can help them and encourage them to want to find out more about you. Remember to present yourself in a positive and articulated way staying away from overtly selling yourself.
- Customised Profile URL
LinkedIn provides you with a default URL which you need to customise. Not only will this aid your SEO efforts, it looks more professional especially as you are likely to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature or on your business card.
- Compelling, Interesting Summary
Your LinkedIn Summary needs to stand out as this is your chance to demonstrate to potential business connections and employers that you are an expert and someone who deserves to be noticed. Your professional headline served the role of initially drawing visitors to your profile and so your professional summary must expand upon and support this further by supporting what you say in your headline. You need to craft well written paragraphs that convince the reader that they need to work with you and want to initiate contact. From this, remember to finish this section with a clear call to action as it’s important to tell your reader how to reach you once they’ve finished reading your LinkedIn summary.
- Complete Experiences that are Keyword-Rich
A powerful LinkedIn profile includes your past experiences which is an area that is highly sensitive when it comes to SEO. By including keywords that people are using to find someone like you, you are ensuring that your LinkedIn profile performs well in search and that you will be found. You need to ascertain which keywords that you would like to appear under in LinkedIn search results and when you do a search for those keywords look at the profiles of those that appear in the top few results, taking the time to examine how they have placed their keywords and then use that knowledge and apply it to your own profile.
- Embraces the Visual
- LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add visual elements to your profile so you need to leverage this opportunity. Embracing the visual in social media marketing remains highly important so utilise this and share with your audience creative, informative and engaging visual elements such as pictures, memes, presentations and videos.
- Easily Contactable
Take a look through your profile and ask yourself ‘how contactable am I’? If you are looking to LinkedIn to foster business opportunities then you need to make sure that it is easy and clear throughout profile how you can be contacted. Remember to include your contact details such as your email address or and/or phone number and links to your website and other social media accounts. It is vital that you don’t make it hard for someone to get in contact with you if they want to as if you do they are likely to move on and contact someone else.
- Member of Several Relevant LinkedIn Groups
Being a member of several relevant LinkedIn groups to your industry has several important benefits including being a powerful help towards getting noticed. LinkedIn Groups also present great avenues for potential business opportunities, keeping up to date with industry news and also encourages and fosters relevant debate and conversation with others with similar interests. Therefore be active within your groups and you will likely be rewarded with increased contacts, knowledge and the potential for business opportunities.
- Credible Recommendations
Recommendations go a long way towards establishing your credibility as they act as concrete examples that others have worked with and have been impressed by their experience with you. This will ultimately act a powerful persuader in the eyes of future customers or employers looking to potentially work with you.
- Completed Profile
Your LinkedIn profile extends far beyond the summary section. Work Experiences, Volunteer Experiences & Causes, Certifications, Education, Interests, and Groups and Associations are just a few of the additional sections that need to be fully completed in order to have a powerful LinkedIn profile.
Tips for Success
Proofread Your Profile
Your profile represents you in the professional world therefore always remember to check your copy for correct spellings, punctuation and grammar as your LinkedIn profile is an extension of your corporate persona so simple errors could damage your authority, reputation and appeal. This also extends to checking your profile thoroughly to ensure what you are saying is effectively and clearly communicated to the reader and the layout is visual appealing with short sharp paragraphs. It is beneficial to ask someone external to read through your profile to check for mistakes and also to see whether they understand clearly all what you are saying within your profile.
Do Not Lie About Anything
In an age where it is easy to check information on the internet such as your education or job experience it is neither worthwhile nor appropriate to lie within your profile. In doing so you risk a very public ‘outing’ if you are found out that instantly makes you look unprofessional and untrustworthy which will likely affect your potential for future business.
Utilise LinkedIn Badges on Your Website
LinkedIn has available several types of profile badges that can help you promote your LinkedIn profile. By using the HTML code you can attach a badge to your blog, website or any other forums you are active on and when users click on these badges, they’ll be automatically directed to your LinkedIn profile, helping you expand your connections.
Personalise your LinkedIn Connection Requests
When attempting to make a connection with a fellow professional, always tailor and personalise your request email rather than using the default message. Personalising the message makes it look as if you have made the extra effort to connect and as such you reduce the risk of those people ignoring you who will automatically do so when they see the default message appear.
Leverage LinkedIn Applications
LinkedIn has several applications which you can use to enhance your profile. Examples include the WordPress app which lets you sync blog posts with your LinkedIn profile or the SlideShare application that enables you to embed videos in your profile. The aim on LinkedIn is to create the most eye-catching profile so adding relevant applications that help you show your skills off is going to help you attract attention.
Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Up to Date
Make sure at least once every 3 months you assess and update your LinkedIn Profile. Check all information is still relevant and correct and remember to always update your profile every time you receive an award, achievement or any other relevant information.
Synchronise your LinkedIn Profile and CV
Take the extra time to be sure that extracts from your professional CV match perfectly with the information shown on LinkedIn’s Experience section. This is for consistency but also avoids the potential embarrassment of getting tripped up in an interview or when meeting with a potential client when it is discovered that what you claim on your CV does not match up with your LinkedIn Profile.
Keep It Professional at All Times
LinkedIn is considered the most professional social media platform therefore it is expected that you conduct yourself professionally when you are interacting with others and sharing updates. Before you post a comment or share something remember that you are representing yourself in a business environment so if it isn’t relevant or could cause offence do not risk your reputation and post it.
Turn Off Notifications When Updating Your Profile
When you are updating your profile with a lot of changes remember to temporarily disable notifications. The reason for this is it can become quite annoying for your connections to receive a stream of updates in a short period of time as you change and update your profile.
Regularly Connect with Your Connections
Once you have a new connection don’t simply forget about them, make an effort to reach out and create and maintain a new relationship. This can be as simple as leaving a positive comment on their update or sending them a link to some information they might find useful. Not only is this polite and shows you are genuinely interested in maintaining your connections, it also makes yourself active in their mind and so they may instantly think of you for new business opportunities that arrive.
Introduce Your Connections to One Another
If you have a connection that could provide value or be a useful contact for one of your other connections, then introduce them to one another. This is a great way for you to develop relationships and gain referrals for yourself.
Respond Promptly To Interactions
As with any other social media platform, if someone interacts with you, give a good impression by being as prompt as possible with your response.
With so much networking and interacting conducted over the internet, it’s easy to get used to only interacting with others online and forget that the people we’re connecting with are not just a name and picture on our screen, they actually exist in the ‘real’ world. Online conversations however are not sufficient enough on their own to truly build relationships, networks and to get results. Rather, you need to make sure you get the most out of your new connections and make a good impression by putting in an effort to meet offline and talk with and meet the people who you’ve connected with.
Utilise LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
Using Sponsored updates is a way of putting your content in front of key influencers and audiences on LinkedIn, ultimately helping you to build your credibility as an expert in your industry and helping you gain more exposure to those people who are not in your network. With sponsored updates you have the ability to narrowly limit the audience for your update by targeting your update by location, company category, job title, schools attended, LinkedIn groups and more. The comprehensive analytics that are provided also lets you determine just how effective your paid updates are, allowing to you make the most of your investment. The Metrics you are able to analyse range from Impressions, total spent, Clicks, to CTR (click-through rate) and CPC (cost per click). You also have the very useful ability to compare the effectiveness of your sponsored against non-sponsored updates on your company page’s analytics page. Metrics that you can track here range from the level of Interactions, Impressions, Clicks and Engagement. Looking at which can help you determine the rate at which your sponsored updates perform than your non-sponsored updates. The key to remember with sponsored updates however is that you need to sponsor posts that are highly valuable, engaging and informative to your target audience, to ensure you have a positive return on investment and help establish yourself and business as a leading thought expert in your industry.
Offer Value in Discussion Groups
Being a member of relevant groups on LinkedIn allows you to interact with and participate in relevant discussions with other members who are in your industry or are of interest all within in a professional setting. LinkedIn discussion groups provide a valuable opportunity for marketers to establish themselves as thought leaders, learn more about their community and target audience and not to mention helping to generate leads. Make it a priority to stay active and contribute regularly in order to enrich discussions with valuable, informative and engaging content that engages and targets your audience’s needs. In doing so you help establish yourself as a valued and trusted source of information to your industry, help foster new connections, learn new and relevant news and could ultimately lead to new business opportunities.
Focus on Developing Relationships Rather Than Adding Connections
You will get a lot more out of LinkedIn if you start to periodically reach out to your connections in your personal network in order to get to know them better and importantly develop relationships. Look to collaborate and share information with them, talk to and learn about them and their skill set/knowledge and ask questions to generally get to know them. The reasoning behind developing relationships is that once you both develop a bond and trust element between each other you become a trusted advisor to one other making it more likely that if an opportunity presents itself where you can help one another, recommend the others product or service you’re the first person they turn to. From your point of view, you have a specialist in an area to answer your questions on a topic, provide potential business opportunities to or to collaborate with on projects and in turn, you become the same for your connections. Ultimately, treating each individual as a human and getting to know them can develop into something greater from simply a new friendship, collaboration to even new business.
Don’t Treat LinkedIn as an Online Version of Your CV
Whilst LinkedIn is a platform for showcasing you and your skillset, you should not treat it like an online version of your CV. Instead of creating your profile in the bog standard format of talking about yourself in a general sense like ‘here is where I went to school’ ‘this is the business I work for’ ‘this is what I do for a job’ etc. Look to instead craft your entire profile in way that clearly and concisely addresses, targets and fixes your target audience’s needs, making them have to take notice of you and is compelling enough to get the point across of why no one else but you can be the savior to their problems/needs. For example in the job section don’t just simply state what you do in a generic sense, mold your answer to your specific target audience and instead write your section in the format of ‘‘I help [Insert Target Audience] achieve [Insert Their Desired Outcome] by providing [list product, skills and/or services you offer].’’
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Listing Skills that LinkedIn Doesn’t Recognise
When you start typing a skill on your LinkedIn profile, make sure it appears in the drop-down menu. If it doesn’t it is not a frequently searched item so make sure you stick to the thousands of skills LinkedIn already has in the system and your profile will pop up more often in search results.
Not Personalising Your LinkedIn Public Profile URL
Many people leave the default mess of letters and numbers at the end of the URL. You need to change this to your name or as close as it you can come to it as it will make you appear more professional and enhance your personal brand.
Having No Photo or An Inappropriate Photo
One of the biggest mistakes on a LinkedIn profile is to not use a photo or using one that is inappropriate. LinkedIn is a professional networking site so your photo should reflect your general industry and your personal professionalism. Ensure your picture is representative of you by being up to date, clear and good quality. Never make the mistake of failing to use a photo at all as this can easily lead to missed connections.
Sending Spammy Messages and Over Posting
Remember to always share updates in the mind frame of helping and providing value to others. This means avoiding posting spammy and self-serving messages to your connections and especially not posting high quantities of updates a day.
Asking For or Giving People You Don’t Know Recommendations
You should never ask for a recommendation or give one to someone that you don’t know and can’t personally vouch for. The reason being that if you give someone a recommendation that is actually a poor worker then it reflects badly on you for recommending them to others, similarly if someone gives you a recommendation that has a poor reputation this also will appear negatively on you.
Criticising and Commenting Negatively In Groups
LinkedIn groups are a great place to make new connections and interact professionally with others, however if you act negatively posting rude, critical or offensive comments you harm your reputation and will miss out on potential business opportunities.
Posting Self-Serving Content in Your Groups
LinkedIn Groups are to be used to share relevant, informative and interesting updates to other members, not for spamming your self-serving content. If you have a genuine piece of information that you know other members will find useful but is self-promoting in some way then you need to craft it in a way that ensures that the aim of the content is to provide value first.
Asking New Connections or People You Don’t Know To Endorse You
It is very easy to give and receive endorsements from others on LinkedIn without thought and this is primarily why endorsements do not hold as much respect as recommendations do. So do not be tempted to go and endorse as many connections as possible in the hope that they return them to you. Rather only endorse those you can personally vouch for and preferably create a personal recommendation.
Treating LinkedIn Like Other Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn etiquette is very different from other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is widely accepted that LinkedIn is the most professional platform and as such you need to act as though you are a professional environment. This does not mean that you shouldn’t show a personality; rather just remember who your audience is as they are not likely to receive a meme of a cat for example in the same way as an audience on Facebook will.
Not Including Past Jobs or Volunteer Work
Your profile needs to be a robust and complete picture of you in a professional setting, so even if you have changed fields you still need to include past examples of your work and the skills you acquired whilst there as it all works together to create an account of you and your skills. Similarly volunteering work can tell a potential employer or business prospect a lot about you as a person, your interests and what extra skills you have acquired outside of work so it is important that you include it within your profile taking care to elaborating on tasks you completed and skills acquired.
Many people set up a profile and assume that is enough to get you noticed. Rather, to truly get the most out of LinkedIn you need to make a conscious effort to be active in your groups, share content that engages your connections and maintain an up to date profile.
Not Utilising LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups are a great resource for building your knowledge base and connecting with individuals in similar industries. There is much to gain in terms of knowledge development, new connections and business opportunities by joining and being an active member of LinkedIn Groups, so make the effort to join groups that are relevant to you and your interests so you don’t miss out on these important benefits.
Not Making Sure Your Profile is 100% Complete
Always make sure that your profile is 100% completed. If you fail to do so you will not only be harder to find on LinkedIn, you could potentially miss out on business opportunities and connections the result of which means you don’t get the full benefit of being on the network.
Never Modifying Your Profile
You should always pay attention to the numbers at which people view your profile and how often you come up in search as if these numbers are low it shows you that you need to recapture the attention of others. You can do this by potentially updating your titles and your headline and revitalising your descriptions every so often to try and attract attention and capture additional search traffic.
Not Knowing the Difference Between a LinkedIn Profile and a LinkedIn Company Page
There are two ways you can choose to have a presence on LinkedIn as a business owner. If you choose to create a company page you will be communicating as your business to others that have chosen to follow you and get updates from you to learn more about your business. With a LinkedIn Profile you will be communicating as an individual rather than as a business, allowing you to connect with clients, colleagues, and other members of your professional network.
Not Being Selective About the Connections You Accept
The people who you have connected with on LinkedIn are a representation of you and shows to others the kind of professionals you associate with. From this it is important not to just accept and connect with anyone just to appear more popular, instead look to connect with people you can genuinely learn from or be a benefit to and make sure you know who they are and what their credentials are.
Not Sharing a Variety of Rich Media in Your Posts
It is critical to embrace the visual and be creative with the updates you share by posting a variety of content types such as videos, infographics and SlideShare documents to engage and interest your connections. If you post unappealing, self-promoting content continually you will not attract the critical attention you need from others and will inevitably damage your reputation.
Not Promoting Your Profile to Others
You could have put together the perfect LinkedIn profile but if you fail to tell others about it then you miss out on connecting with new prospects. So remember to promote your profile across all other social media including a badge on your website, putting a URL on business literature and packaging and including it on your e-newsletter and email signature.
Not Considering Your Search Optimisation (SEO) Efforts
You need to consciously optimise your profile for SEO looking to at the very least have a completed profile and strategically place keywords throughout your profile. If you neglect your efforts and your profile is not SEO friendly then you risk losing crucial visibility and being highly ranked in search and seen by others.
Like any other marketing strategy, the success of your LinkedIn profile must be measured against your business objectives. Analysing your LinkedIn metrics will show you a wealth of information and insights and help determine whether your profile is having a measurable impact and whether the data is reflective of the overall goals of your LinkedIn profile page.
LinkedIn Profile Views
LinkedIn will provide you with the number of people who have accessed your LinkedIn profile in the last week. Looking at these stats will give you a good idea as to whether you are growing your LinkedIn presence.
Your Network Size or Total Connections
You are only as visible as the size of your network, so having a large number of valuable connections is a good indication that you are expanding your influence and visibility on LinkedIn.
Level of New Invitations
Counting the amount of new invitations is a good way of tracking that your network is continuing to grow. If you get a good level of new invitation every week then you know that you are growing your influence and potential value from your LinkedIn efforts.
Level of Interactions on Updates
Posting regular and valuable updates is a great way to build a presence and looking at the level of interaction your posts generate, is a good indication that readers are finding your posts insightful and are engaged with what you have to say. Potential employers and businesses looking to connect will search for influential people in their industry and the level of interactions is a good measure of such influence.
Total Number of Recommendations
When a member of your network recommends you this acts as a confirmation that the skills you claim you have are genuine. Recommendations from colleagues, business partners and satisfied clients go a long way in the eyes of potential customers and business connections so having a large number of genuine recommendations is a good indication that you are establishing your value and credibility.
Number of Business Leads
If you are on LinkedIn to generate new business then measuring the number and quality of leads generated is essential. Keep track of how may requests for business you have had and make sure you establish the value and quality of these requests.
LinkedIn Maintenance Checklist
- Share a status update with relevant business content
- Check and respond to any messages, invitations, notifications and respond where appropriate
- Engage with and add your thoughts to relevant discussions in your groups
- Send at least 5 new connection requests a day by looking for other members in your groups and the ‘people you may know’ section. Ideally, tailor your ‘invitation to connect’ message
- Go through news feed and get updated on news and insights and add your thoughts and comments to any relevant discussions
- If you blog, post your blog post in relevant LinkedIn groups and/or send it to any connections you think it will be particularly interesting/useful to
- Look to see if any new connections from other social media platforms have LinkedIn and connect with them
- Actively look for relevant groups you can join