Too many people think LinkedIn is solely for finding a job. Since small business owners have jobs, they often overlook the site’s potential. LinkedIn has 380 million users (as of 7/30/2015), with two new users joining per second, on average. Over 110 million users are based in the U.S. If you want to improve your personal brand and your company’s visibility, this site is a great place to start. Here’s what you need:
Add a Recognizable, and Professional, Headshot
Select a high-quality image that looks like you look now, not twenty years ago and not Photoshopped to the point someone sitting next to you and viewing your profile wouldn’t recognize you. Please leave out pictures of pets and kids, unless it has something to do with your business. Also avoid the awkward crops where you still see someone else’s shoulder pressed up against yours.
Profiles with a photo are 11x more likely to be viewed in search results on the site than those profiles with the “egg.”
Work Your Professional Headline
The professional headline or tagline is the line or two of text that appears under your name. Many people add their most recent title here. This is a waste of space. Viewers will see your company and title anyway, no need to use this space for it. If you want to include your business, fine, but don’t stop there. Try something like: Sales at Green Ford, helping people afford their dream car Use this valuable real estate to set yourself apart and tell how you help. This is much more appealing to others.
Jazz Up Your Summary
This should not be a repeat of your job duties. There’s a space for that. Think of this space as a verbal commercial for yourself. Again, speak to your audience and their needs. This is not a spot to list all of your awards or publications. There’s a place for that too.
Your summary should be enjoyable to read, spaced out nicely so the words are not too dense, and less than 2000 characters. Answer the simple question of how you help (complete with subtle use of keywords).
Endorse Others as You Would Like to Be Endorsed
LinkedIn allows you to endorse others by going to their profile and using a couple of quick clicks. There is an unspoken reciprocal agreement on social media that when you do something nice for someone (i.e., endorsements of skills), they will do it back to you. Since LinkedIn notifies people through email of endorsements, they’re bound to see and appreciate your efforts.
Why should you care about endorsements?
You are 13x more likely to see an increase in your profile views when you’ve been endorsed by a number of people.
Build Your Connections
Unlike other social media profiles where people share a lot of personal information about their lives, LinkedIn is largely professional. For that reason, I’m a strong proponent of connecting with a lot of people. If you go to a luncheon and meet someone, don’t be nervous about sending them a connection invitation when you return to your business.
Monitor your stream once a day or so and interact with the things people are posting. Congratulate connections on new jobs, like the articles they post, share their content. This will help you stand out in their minds and it only takes minutes a day.
If you have additional time, contribute content of your own, and publish on LinkedIn. Building your reputation as an expert in your industry will yield much more than improved personal branding, it will mean more customers for your business.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.