LinkedIn is the social media platform for job seekers and executives, right? If you are self employed, you can skip Linkedin and not worry about it, true? You don’t have to work for a company or an organization to utilize the power of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a very powerful network that you should leverage to grow your business. It is the number one network for professionals. Here you will find the influencers in your industry and the thought leaders. You will find your peers, colleagues and competitors. You can get new clients from your LinkedIn strategy.
If you are not on LinkedIn yet, this post will guide you through the process so you start things off on the right foot. If you are already on it but not using it to get the ROI you want, use this post to tweak things and see where you can improve so you can market yourself effectively. Let’s begin.
Transform your profile
#1 Put some thought into it.
Don’t write your profile like a boring resume. Go beyond your jobs and responsibilities. Your first job is to make it as enticing for others. If you are a consultant, a coach, a trainer, a service professional you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors so you stand out. A B2B buyer should be able to see clearly what makes you the right choice.
#2 Use the new header image.
Use a header image to grab people’s attention and showcase your branding. LinkedIn offers stock images but I would advise you to use a custom image. You can hire someone off Fiverr for an inexpensive job and have something created that looks professional. Summarize all the important information that you want people to see at a glance and use a call to action to ask them to connect with you. Look at other people’s profiles for inspiration.
#3 Go beyond the standard job title.
The vast majority of LinkedIn Profiles read like a job application. They start off with their position title and level of expertise. Not many people have thought of using this space to grab attention and create interest. Instead of writing a standard job title, create a bold headline for yourself that captures attention, promises a big benefit and strengthens your point of difference.
#4 Name drop.
After writing an effective headline instead of a typical job title, you need to back it up. For example, if you are a magazine writer looking for gigs, the next section should be publications and then experience. Show off your endorsements and all the places you have been featured in. This is not the place to be shy.
#5 Tell a story.
Your experience section can be much more than a list of your past job descriptions and responsibilities. You can easily use this section to educate your potential clients and tell your marketing story.
#6 Provide case studies.
Not many people do this but you can highlight your expertise by talking about the results you delivered for others thus making their decision easier. You can use both project and experience sections to give succinct case studies. The titles under projects are clickable so be sure to give more details on your website and drive traffic to a relevant page.
#7 Use rich media.
Give your boring LinkedIn profile a makeover by adding Slideshare presentations, video or other forms of visual media to enforce your standing. You can also use small clips of your adding value to big name brands or their testimonials.
Build a powerful network
You have to become strategic in building your LinkedIn network. By doing so, you can improve and grow your connections, get in front of the right audiences, attract new clients and get speaking gigs, get more introductions and referrals. You also get an increase in media enquires and press.
#8 Start with people you already know.
Connect with your email contacts by importing them to LinkedIn. Don’t send them a generic email but email them individually. Once you have started building your network, LinkedIn will understand the people you are trying to connect with and suggest relevant people for you.
#9 Work on your invitation email.
When you create personalized emails, let people know why you should connect. Have you heard them speak somewhere? Are you a fan of their book? Do you have friends in common? Give them a reason to say yes.
There is a contact button you can use to make a request but you cannot customize this so use this sparingly.
#10 Identify your network clusters.
As you are building your connections, you will start noticing groups of people. You might see connections through a place or city, past work experiences and education, communities around common interest or industry influencers. Start connecting with these people then go deeper and find even more people to invite to your own network. You can also sort people by title, company, location or source.
#11 Use LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn groups are great for finding and connecting with likeminded people. You have to do some research to discover high quality, well-managed groups. When you join these groups, work on being of service first before you start offering your services and marketing yourself. Use these groups to connect with people who would be a great add to your network.
#12 Review your contact profiles.
Once you are connected, start reading their profiles to know more about them. You want to forge genuine relationships so you want to understand how you can add value to these people and be of service.
#13 Use advanced search.
You can use the LinkedIn advanced search tool to find people using keywords. If you want to use the full functionality, consider upgrading to the premium account. You can refine your search and use one more parameter such as the location or degree of connection to get the best results.
#14 Be selective.
As you start building your network, you will start receiving invitations to connect every day. In the beginning you might be tempted to say yes to every invitation but with time you want to become more discretionary to keep the quality of your network up. Be careful with connecting with strangers unless they have a friend in common or belong to your industry. Also think about accepting an invitation if they don’t have a profile picture unless they are someone you know personally (gently remind them to add a picture).
If you are well known in your industry, ask people for a reason why you should accept their invitation.
#15 Prune your network over time.
In order to maintain and grow a powerful network, it is important to keep it up to date. Over time clean your connections and remove any that have become dated.
Publish content for increased visibility
You can increase exposure on LinkedIn by sharing your content.
#16 Develop a content strategy.
Really understand how you can use LinkedIn to reach new people and deepen that relationship leading to business. Plan your content to get it in front of as many people as you can.
#17 Publish at optimal times.
Try publishing early in the week on a Monday or Tuesday. On LinkedIn, times when people take a break usually works well so consider publishing just before people start their day and during lunch break and just before they finish for the day.
#18 Get featured on a channel.
LinkedIn has categorized articles by topics for ease of access. Every time you publish a post, LinkedIn matches it to a specific channel. Keep a tight focus on every post so it shows up on the most relevant channel. These channels have large number of followers and if you can get featured on a channel, your article will appear in that channel’s slider and in everybody’s stream. Imagine the impact you can make with this kind of exposure. Try publishing articles about different topics on different days to increase your chances of getting featured.
#19 Use LinkedIn Publisher.
This is essentially your own on-site blog. When you publish articles with Publisher, it becomes searchable by keyword in the post search box. Also, your connections and followers will see the post in their newsfeed. If you don’t have it yet, you can apply for it as it is now open to everyone. It’s fine to repurpose your old blog content.
#20 Partner with an influencer.
When you are just starting on Publisher, try writing about the influencers and thought leaders in your industry. If you create a well thought out piece, they might share it with their tribe. You can also interview the leaders individually or ask them for their opinion on a topic and write a single post on that.
#21 Create practical, data-driven content.
According to research, LinkedIn users gravitate towards practical topics so crate actionable content on topics in your industry be it marketing, management, training, customer service or business. Use an app like BuzzSumo to find out the most sought after topics on LinkedIn.
#22 Go for quality instead of quantity.
Don’t publish lots of mediocre and low quality content. Sure, you might start appearing in the feed but people will start to ignore you if they decide your stuff is of inferior quality. It is far better to publish once a week if you can’t maintain the quality.
#23 Pay attention to headlines.
Optimizing headlines is something you should do for any piece of content you publish but it is even more important on LinkedIn as it is a network for professionals and these people are busy. You need to craft headlines that capture their attention and stand out in a sea of competing headlines.
#24 Make it visual.
Nobody can understate the value of a good visual so don’t ignore it on LinkedIn. Upload images to your status updates, company pages and on Publisher. Use Slideshare presentations as well as video to make your content compelling and easy to digest.
#25 Invite discussion.
Linkedin determines what content is worth sharing based on the number of views, likes, shares and comments it receives so don’t be shy about getting your reader to engage with you. Add a strong call to action in the end leading people to a landing page. Don’t forget to share your content within and outside of LinkedIn.
Grow your leads with LinkedIn
You can use LinkedIn to market your business and get new clients.
#26 Optimize your profile.
In the beginning I stressed on the importance of having a professional profile. Take it one step further by using the same key words in your title your target audience would use to search service providers like you on the platform. If someone would use terms like WordPress designer or brand strategist then use these words to describe what you do. Use these words throughout in key places like your title, summary and work experience.
#27 Describe the people you want to attract.
Who is your ideal audience? Who are the people you want to attract? In your summary section, you must speak to them. Talk about the problem they face and what you can do exactly to help them achieve the results they want.
#28 Join LinkedIn Groups.
On LinkedIn, you can join up to 50 groups so join as many as you can. It’s fine to join industry specific groups but don’t limit your choices to those only. Consider joining groups your ideal clients are most likely participate in. This way you can get in front of the people who are looking for professionals like you.
Post your status updates in groups as well (otherwise only your first connections will see them). Provide value and don’t promote yourself. If you want to do it, do that occasionally making sure it is allowed in the group otherwise you may be removed. You can also run searches in the LinkedIn groups and find your ideal prospects based on different criteria.
#29 Create a sequence of messages for new connections.
After they accept your request to connect, send them a thank you message and a resource that will be of value to them. Then send more messages that would be useful (links to relevant articles, ebooks, video, presentation, white paper etc.) and a few relationship building messages. Once you have built some rapport, take your relationship offline. Be sure to personalize each message and don’t make a pitch for your products or services. Your aim is to open dialogue and add value. This will eventually lead to business coming your way.
#30 Maximize your endorsements.
You want people to endorse you but you also want them to endorse you for the right skill and not for something that is irrelevant to you. You can do this by listing your best endorsements to gently guide them. Tell the world what you want to be endorsed for.
Growing a smart LinkedIn network is priceless. Engaging with the right people will pay off in the future. It will open doors for you and attract business opportunities so be sure to work on it a little bit every day.
Tell us about yourself. Are you on LinkedIn? How have you used it to grow your business so far? If you aren’t on it yet, what is stopping you? Has this post changed your mind? Leave a comment and let us know.