LinkedIn has become the de facto social media tool of choice for business people and professionals. However, as is the case with other social media such as Facebook and Twitter, a lot of people use it without really knowing why or what they’re trying to achieve!
Your goal when using LinkedIn should not simply be "how many contacts can I collect?” In itself, this is a largely pointless exercise.
Instead, you should concentrate on how you can best present yourself on LinkedIn such that would-be customers and other useful contacts are drawn to you.
Use a good photo
A poorly-taken photo (or no photo at all) is no good! People want to see who you are. If you have some LinkedIn connections already, the chances are those people know what you look like anyway.
Use a well-lit "head and shoulders” photo that portrays you in an environment appropriate to your business (no hen party photos, in other words!).
Your profile summary is not your CV
Your profile summary is the main opportunity to put across to would-be customers and contacts something interesting and compelling.
When adding content to their LinkedIn profile summary, people tend to follow one of two extreme approaches:
- Put nothing at all or, at best, very scant details
- Blather on in detail and at length about their current and past roles
Neither is particularly suitable.
Aim for three sentences, make each sentence a separate paragraph so your summary is easy to read and make your copy personal: what makes you worth knowing? what can you do that is beneficial to a prospective customer? why are you different from your competitors?
Put your summary first
By default, your summary is not shown at the top of your profile page and yet it is probably the content that’s of most interest to the would-be customer. When you edit your profile page, use the drag and drop facility to move the summary section to the top, so it sits above the other sections.
Make your headline eye-catching
There are two elements of content shown at the top of your profile page – alongside your photo – that you can edit to your advantage: your name and your headline.
If you understand basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), your name is presented on your profile page using an H1 tag, which makes it a significant piece of content for Google and other search engines. Add something descriptive to your name to enhance your profile’s ranking in Google’s search results.
Similarly, if you merely regurgitate your current job title as your headline, you miss an opportunity. Instead, add something more compelling, either so it helps with your profile’s search engine ranking or so it is more interesting to the reader.
Use recommendations to enhance credibility
A LinkedIn recommendation is an endorsement / testimonial from someone for whom you have worked.
Requesting recommendations from existing contacts increases your credibility as someone viewing your profile page feels confident that you’re good at what you do.
From the Profile menu at the top of the screen, select Recommendations and then click on the "Ask for recommendations” tab. Complete the boxes on screen and make sure you remove the default text in the message and write a personal message of your own instead.
As was the case with your summary earlier, you can drag and drop individual recommendations to sort them into a specific order, so your best testimonial appears at the top of the list.
None of these profile changes take a great deal of time to complete and yet they’re frequently over-looked by LinkedIn users.
All the changes are worth doing because they improve the way you present yourself on LinkedIn. If you’re connected with existing clients and customers – and you’re hoping that prospective clients and customers look at your profile too - it’s important that you portray yourself appropriately so they regard you in a positive manner.