At this point, most businesses have realized that a social media presence is absolutely necessary in the new world of digital marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest—these have all become popular avenues for communicating with potential customers, as well as your loyal following. Even so, LinkedIn, one of the most powerful networking tools in social media, is often over looked as a business marketing tool. Sure people realize their can further their personal brand, look for a job, maybe make a few connections, but as a whole the LinkedIn world is often underutilized, and for many businesses this could be a costly oversight.
So I know, you might be thinking “I want to promote my business, not myself, so LinkedIn isn’t right for me.” However, in the age of digital media, your personal brand is almost as important as your business brand, and in some cases they can become synonymous with each other. Meaning your LinkedIn profile may have more power than you originally thought. LinkedIn is more than just social media, it is a resume, a business card, a personal branding tool, that is easy to use and right at your fingertips.
Steps to LinkedIn Success
Even if you already have a LinkedIn Account, you might not be using it to its full capability. If you’re starting from scratch or making a new profile, these steps will propel your profile to the top of the pile.
1. Finish Your Profile
The drudgery of these social media set up routine can be a daunting, especially when you are asked specific questions about your job history, volunteer experience, and so on. However, a fully completed profile is essential to LinkedIn success. According to LinkedIn, those with completed profiles are 40% more likely to receive business, as those whose profiles are incomplete. To have a completed, “all-star” LinkedIn profile you will need to have the following:
- Your current position, don’t forget the description
- The industry you work in and your current location
- Educational history
- At least two of your past positions
- At least three skills
- At least 50 connections
2. Take a Great Headshot
The importance of a professional headshot is increasing as the opportunities for creating personal brands becomes more prevalent. Now, not everyone likes to have their picture taken, but in the digital age allowing people to put a face with your name instills trust in you and the business you are running. So buck up and get in front of the camera.
A few tips for a great headshot:
- Use a Bright Background – When you are a small thumbnail on a screen full of other faces, brighter backgrounds stand out.
- Integrate Industry Specific Elements – If you can, also consider using some key identifier in your image. For instance, if you are in construction, an image of you wearing a hardhat tells potential connections your industry in the blink of an eye. Use your best judgment on whether or not this tip would apply well to your industry.
- Use the Same Headshot Across All Social Media Platforms – Using the same, identifiable image makes it easy for your potential connections to recognize you, meaning your face and name will become much easier for them to remember and trust.
3. Beef Up Your Headline
Your headline may be the only thing anyone reads on your profile other than you name. So it’s in your best interest to make it good.
- Use Key Words – Consider key words that might lead potential connections to you. If you are in cosmetology, you might include Hairdresser, Stylist, and Make-up Artist all in your headline.
- Be Local – According to Social Media Today, if you include your city in your headline your profile will stand out up to 23 times more than someone who doesn’t specify their location. If applicable, add your region or city to encourage those local connections and hopefully gain more exposure and business in your area.
4. Set a Great Background Photo
The background photo gives you a lot of space to incorporate your brand and industry. Don’t be afraid to use logos or taglines in this images, however even just images related to your industry can be a huge benefit. If your business is highly reliant on local business, consider using a local picture or identifier so that your potential connections know they have found someone in an area that is related to them. The background image for LinkedIn should be 1400 x 425 pixels and in JPG, PNG, or GIF format.
5. Communicate with Your Connections
- Send Personal Messages – Often people get so tied up in trying to get more connections on LinkedIn, they lose that personal touch. When you make a new connection, always send a personal message. This encourages deeper engagement, even if you don’t know the person terribly well, or it has been years since you have worked with them, this personal touch reminds them of why they wanted to connect with you in the first place.
- Endorse Skills – If you can, endorse the skills of the people you connect with. This usually spur them to do the same for you.
- Congratulate Your Colleagues – LinkedIn is great about informing you when one of your connections starts a new job, has a work anniversary, etc. Click one button and you can like or send a message to your connections to acknowledge their professional milestones. Take the opportunity to congratulate them by adding your own personal touch to these messages, your connections will notice.
- Join Groups and Engage – Joining groups is a great way to get new connections in your area or your industry. Start conversations, comment on others, and get yourself a more notable online presence.
It wasn’t that long ago, that networking for your business meant you had a drawer full of business cards and a Rolodex full of contacts, but in the digital age networking looks a little different. LinkedIn can replace that drawer full of business cards and if you harness its power it can make far more impact than your business card ever could.