LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft, is one of the top social networks out there with over 550 million users, including the upper echelon of the business community. You’ll find more CEOs, CMOs, investors and decision-makers on LinkedIn than any other social network. LinkedIn is for big business and it can be incredibly beneficial for your career. Regardless of your industry or business goals, you should be utilizing LinkedIn to enhance your own personal brand and grow your online reputation.
You can get a great deal of website traffic, recommendations, sales, clients, and jobs with LinkedIn lead generation if used correctly. Here are some tips on how to fully leverage this invaluable social networking platform in our Bootstrap Business LinkedIn Social Selling & Networking Guide.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
It’s your responsibility to optimize the power of your LinkedIn profile. Use the most current and professional high-resolution picture you have. Make sure it is appropriate for your industry. For example, the LinkedIn profile picture for a marketer or designer could potentially be more personal or creative than that of a financial professional (more conservative industry). Use your full name, professional title, and a thorough professional summary.
Make sure your summary doesn’t just include personality traits… you need to include measurable data from your work. Add pictures, videos, slideshows, white papers, eBooks, links, and any other visual media to stand out and prove your abilities. Make sure to include keywords relevant to your industry. Choose a customized LinkedIn URL with your name in it. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Assume that co-workers, clients, prospective employers, and even the CEO of your company will see your profile.
Keep in mind that different people will be viewing your profile from various apps, browsers, mobile devices, or desktop computers. They may even be viewing it from different countries and in different languages. Make sure to optimize your profile for as many platforms as possible, or at least targeted towards the most relevant and preferred audiences.
Connect With Past Peers
While I’m not saying you should connect with everyone from your past, it’s usually very useful to connect with people you worked with in school, previous jobs, groups or associations, and reputable industry peers. Connect with individuals on LinkedIn that you could confidently endorse for their quality work, and that in turn would return the favor for you if needed.
Connect with influencers and power players that can raise your stock or provide invaluable potential opportunities. While you don’t want to lower the quality of your connections, just remember that each relevant connection could make all the difference. You never know for sure where your next sale, client, or employer could come from. Make the right connection choices and increase your odds of networking success.
Request Relevant Recommendations
Make sure to professionally recommend your deserving colleagues and request professional recommendations on LinkedIn from appropriate connections. It’s good to help out other deserving professionals and you are displayed on their profile as well. Getting publicly visible recommendations for your work is a big deal and all you have to do is send a personalized invitation request (maybe followed up with a polite and professional LinkedIn message or email). And while the endorsement system (separate from professional recommendations) LinkedIn uses is far from perfect, you still want to list your skills and allow others to endorse you. If you get spam endorsements for some reason you can always remove them individually and it only takes a minute. Showcase your skills and it can add significant value to your account.
Add Associations And Awards
Are you involved in any professional organizations or a member of a networking group? Do you participate in any charitable organizations or events? Have you received any industry or company awards? Do you have any professional certification? List all of your accomplishments, add details as to why they are important, and add some clout to your profile.
Getting a premium account on LinkedIn allows you to enjoy some useful features. You can view more individuals that are looking at your profile, expand search options, message people more easily, and many other benefits. Believe it or not, those gold “Premium” badge does make you stand out in a competitive market. I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s true. And standing out can make all the difference. Because it’s $50+ per month now (a lot more expensive than it used to be) I usually don’t recommend this to anyone unless:
– You’re looking for a new job
– You’re a recruiter
– You’re in sales
– You consider the monthly fee to be negligible.
Making the choice for a Premium account, and the specific membership type, is up to you. Weigh the pros and cons and determine whether the money would be better spent elsewhere.
But definitely enjoy the free 1 month trial when it is offered. But if you don’t intend to keep it make sure you cancel it before charges start being made on your credit card. I usually cancel it within minutes after beginning my free trial just to make sure I don’t forget.
Share Articles & Use LinkedIn Publishing
Everyone can share posts with their LinkedIn connections so you should take advantage of this option. Share your own websites or articles, share industry news, or share a post from one of your connections. Make sure you’ve customized your news feed to filter out what you want to follow and customize the industries you follow via LinkedIn “Pulse”.
Please don’t post non-professional “status updates” that might be better suited for Facebook. LinkedIn Publishing can be a valuable platform to promote your business or prove your legitimacy. LinkedIn Publishing was originally for a select group of “INfluencers” and was then offered to a select number of other influential LinkedIn users. Initially, users enjoyed a great deal of traffic and social sharing. It was a new feature after all and not a lot of users were allowed to publish, or aware that they had the option.
Soon after, everyone was allowed to publish and the quality of posts went downhill overall. Now every recruiter and salesman believes they have endless business wisdom to share. Article publishing notifications have become “white noise” to some users and for others LinkedIn doesn’t even send notifications after an article has posted. While I don’t personally use LinkedIn Publishing any longer, it is still a strong option for a lot of users. Regardless of how you share content, establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Build Company Pages
If you have your own business then you should set up an official Company Page if you haven’t already done so. You can add company information, pictures, posts, jobs, featured groups, product showcases, and much more. Posting official jobs that candidates can apply to internally on LinkedIn can be costly, but posting a link to that job listing is free. Paying to post jobs or promoting posts is up to you or your Human Resources department. If you work for a company then you should be following the page and sharing the posts to help out your company. Liking, sharing, and commenting on the posts shows that you are passionate about your employer and it is usually good for business. And of course, I encourage you to share your business website, YouTube, Slideshares, Social Media, and/or blog posts to boost traffic and SEO!
Join & Engage In Groups
Join relevant professional groups and display them proudly on your profile. Take a look at the group owners, managers, and members. Share your posts in the groups and engage in discussions. Help somebody new in the group or assist a young professional. It will get your name out there and usually give you at least a few new high-quality connections. It’s usually best to focus on being active in a few groups at most, so you should determine which ones are the most important for your business or career.
Monitor Industry Trends & Influencers
Constantly be on the lookout for financial and technology news about your industry to stay on top of things. Take note of your connections that share their posts and how successfully it works for them. See who engages with your profile updates, company page, and shared posts. Congratulate your connections for their new jobs or job anniversaries. Continue analyzing trends to find new potential opportunities or to just improve your LinkedIn performance.
Post New Job Openings Or Seek New Job Roles
If you are looking to recruit new talent for your company or seeking a new job, LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms to be using. Post job openings on company pages, in groups, or as personal status updates. I’ve even seen some individuals post job openings formatted as LinkedIn Publishing articles with some success as well. If you’re seeking a new position you could include that openly in your profile description or in your profile summary. Get the word out that you’re on the market and you could be a valuable commodity for the right company. If you want to use a little more discretion, you can apply to publicly listed positions or get in touch with decision-makers at these prospective employers. Ask for an introduction to someone in human resources or a specific department. Or you could just message them directly about any new openings. You can use LinkedIn to cut through the clutter and get right to the people who matter.
Integrate, Update & Dedicate
Make sure to include your LinkedIn profile custom URL on your website, resume, business cards, and other social media platforms (and vice versa). Make sure to keep it updated and allow your connections to view your profile updates. And make sure to stay dedicated by checking your messages, messaging others when necessary, accepting appropriate connection requests, endorse connections that you’ve worked with successfully, and contribute to high-quality groups. Like anything else, it will take some trial and error to determine what works and what doesn’t. And as always with social networking, things are always changing every month or so. Some users might only need to spend 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn. For others, you may need to spend several hours each week to accomplish your objectives. Regardless of how much time you spend on LinkedIn, just make sure everything that you do is goal-oriented and efficient. Remember that LinkedIn Marketing is not Facebook Marketing or personal Facebook (even though many try to treat it that way).
While updating this article I realized that a 12th category should also be included. LinkedIn provides plenty of educational opportunities that many of us would be wise to utilize. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll certainly learn a great deal from INfluencers, professional peers, pulse articles, and groups. LinkedIn also offers affordable educational modules on hundreds of topics that can enhance your skill set and career. Most importantly (in my view at least), they offer free trials. Whether you utilize free or paid options, you can’t really go wrong when you’re investing in your professional future.
Boost Employee Branding On LinkedIn
According to a recent survey, about 97% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to search for candidates. However, LinkedIn has surpassed the name of a job searching platform long ago. It is now the world’s largest audience of professionals. So, in order to connect and engage in contribution with employers and employees around the world, one must use the full potential of a LinkedIn profile. Here are the primary steps to do so.
1. Update & Upgrade
The LinkedIn profile is more than just a picture with a few details about the employee or a company. It reflects the image and atmosphere of the company. It shows the employers place in the market and growth potential. So, in order to boost the brand, equip the viewers with as much information as possible.
If you’re hoping to advance in your career plan, find the appropriate recommendations and the LinkedIn headline examples for job seekers online. A strong powerful profile headline can appeal to plenty of potential employers.
2. Be Present & Engaged
Online presence is crucial for boosting the company’s reputation online. While an employee is actively engaging in discussions, posting and sharing relevant information, not only he is promoting the company’s brand, he is also showing loyalty to the company. This would help score interviews for more advanced job positions in the future.
Post information about the company’s upcoming events to generate interest in the trade. Write about your own performance in the company. Share information on other social network platform and motivate people to check out your profile and experience the company’s policy.
3. Be Authentic
Authenticity is what profile viewers best respond to. If your profile is designed for a job search, authenticity aspect reflects in including the right job-related keywords. If you want to promote the company’s image, being unique means revealing your working experience in the company. Demonstrate your views of the company’s effect on the market as well as its future achievements.
4. Beat The Competition
10 out of 10 employees will claim they are creative and hardworking. Just as well, there are several companies in one market niche that offer relatively the same service. You have to figure out a way to distinguish your business and beat the competition. Find a feature that makes you stand out from the crowd and sell it. Look back and think of the unique projects you’ve worked on in the last years. How has it influenced the company or your working pattern? Find the feature that translates into future success and promote it.
5. Have Some Fun
There is a place to relax and have fun while running a business. For example, the TINYpulse attracted new employers with a suggestion to rank their level of awesomeness. They then proceeded to ordinary questions about creative skills, but job candidates surely had more fun answering them and hoping to contribute to a company that is cool.
6. Add Company Visuals
Pictures and snapshots of the employees daily life are good for demonstrating the company’s culture. For example, the United Shore company put out a picture of their employees at their latest gathering.
Thousands of workers dressed in brightly-colored clothes illuminating with happiness showed how big their support network is and how diverse the company’s approaches are. The photo was backed up by an enthusiastic motivational pitch to be yourself and how your unique skills would be valued at the company.
Another way to improve the company’s brand is to post recruitment videos featuring real workers and their experiences. Both these visual tools show what kind of employees the company is targeting motivating job candidates to apply.
Finally, include relevant links on the LinkedIn profile. Either provide a direct link to check out more info about the company or leverage the ad space to direct visitors to the Career Page. Don’t waste this space!
The essential thing is advancing a person’s or a company talent is creating a brand. Create a brand with unique service and opportunities and engage everyone who will listen.
To Be A LION Or Not To Be A LION?
If you are were not currently aware, over the past decade there has been a growing group of individuals on LinkedIn that call themselves LinkedIn Open Networkers (aka LIONs). There are several groups and other names such as Top-Linked, Power Networkers, and Black Belt Networkers among many others. These individuals pride themselves in connecting with nearly anyone on LinkedIn in order to grow their primary connections. These LION and Open Networking groups are enormous, with hundreds of thousands of users in groups and maybe even a million total profiles designating their LION status.
These users connect with almost every other account out there, until their 30,000 connection limit has been reached. This includes individuals that they have never met, from countries they have never heard of, and even with potential spammers or scammers. Many LIONs are from developing nations but I’d say the majority are still from North America or Europe.
Most people believe that the practice of being a LION is the antithesis of what the LinkedIn platform was meant for and also generally just a horrible idea for professional networking purposes. Many of the individuals that are LIONs are entrepreneurs, recruiters, or involved digital marketers. Some of them are only practicing open networking for email harvesting, spamming, or scamming purposes.
However, there are plenty of high-quality connections out there. I have been able to connect with many industry-relevant influencers, or appear on other influencers’ radars by association. You also do come across a decent amount of connections from Fortune 500 corporations. You’ll find everyone from CEOs and doctors to cashiers and farmers. And yes there are definitely some unemployed or just plain fake users. Over the years I have found some of these connections annoying and some of them inspiring. It’s a mixed bag to say the least.
But I do know that you rarely want to turn down the chance to connect with someone if there is even a chance that it could be beneficial to you. These days you never know exactly what could be your ticket to that next website visit, lead, referral, sale, client, introduction, interview, or job. That connection invitation that looks like it could be spam? It could end up being a game-changer for your entire career and life. You just never know these days with our growing globalized economy.
So how do I know so much about LinkedIn Open Networkers?
I actually became a LION in my early days of LinkedIn before I really understood what I was doing. I didn’t have a plan or rationale really, I was 23 years old with my own personal training and online business and I figured more connections were better than less (like with Facebook or Twitter at the time). I connected with as many people as I could in Boston and New England, even those that I barely knew or didn’t know at all. I raced to the coveted 500+ connections quickly and people paid a little bit more attention to my business. My website traffic grew a bit and I had a few more email inquiries. I then decided that if 500 was good, then 2,000 would be even better. I began connecting with individuals in other areas of the United States and again got a bit of increase in website traffic and more followers on social media.
In 2014 as I was consulting and looking for a career change I decided to take my LinkedIn LION status up a notch and reached the 30,000 connection limit. It was unleashing Pandora’s Box in terms of spam emails, messages, and invites but I did make thousands of very valuable connections that provided me with website traffic, book sales, advertising revenue, endorsements, article inclusions, interviews, consulting gigs, and even job offers.
Since then I have gotten smarter and know that quality matters much more than quantity. I’ve deleted about 10,000 of the spammy connections and replaced them with very high-quality connections, including top executives and influencers in my industry. And just as importantly, I removed my email address from being viewed on my profile! About every month I go through a lot of my connections and remove the ones that are spammy or irrelevant to make room for higher quality profiles.
In hindsight I’m not sure if I would have become a LinkedIn LION back in 2009 and then later in 2014. There are pros and cons, but experimentation is a big part of social media marketing and career building.
After my experiments and experiences, I have determined which primary scenarios would make the most sense for aspiring LIONs:
1) Online or global business
2) Recruiter or headhunter
3) Job seeker, consultant or freelancer
4) Group or company page growth
5) Authors or media personalities
Pretty much anyone who has a website or global brand could benefit from being a LinkedIn Open Networker if you do it right.
While being a LinkedIn Open Networker might not be worth the time and effort, you should keep an open mind regarding your social connections. A specific and high-quality network is usually best, but sometimes more can end up being better.
Final LinkedIn Recommendations
1. Your LinkedIn Profile Is You
Your LinkedIn profile is the professional face you show the world. LinkedIn provides a variety of powerful tools within the profile to put your best face forward.
Follow these guidelines to create a killer LinkedIn profile:
• Choose The Right Profile Picture: Use a recent photo that fits your profession. Choose a picture of yourself that includes your head from the shoulders up and where you have an open, friendly expression. If possible, have a professional picture taken. A square picture of 400 x 400 pixels under 10MB in size is recommended.
• Create A Unique And Descriptive Headline: Come up with a short phrase that defines what you do best. For example, use a phrase that describes what you do and why you’re good at it, such as “Skilled software developer who never misses a deadline.”
• Make The Most Of The Background Photo: Don’t settle for the default background photo on your profile page. Use the space to highlight what you do. You could use a graphic highlighting some of your products or services. You could draw attention to a current promotion. You could include pictures of you working behind-the-scenes. Whatever you choose, make it relevant and memorable.
• Customize Your LinkedIn URL: Take advantage of the customize link option within your profile. Share the link on your other social media accounts. Complete the summary and experience sections. The summary section lets you expand on your visions and allows personal anecdotes. It gives your profile a human feel.
2. Make Connections
Connect with co-workers, colleagues industry leaders, vendors and professionals you know. If your connections have connections you’d like to include in your network, ask your contacts to introduce you. Include a personal note when you send your connection request and explain why you’d like to connect. The more connections in your network, the greater your reach.
3. Publish Your Own LinkedIn Content
Publishing content on LinkedIn is a powerful way to gain recognition. Informative long-form content builds your professional brand and strengthens your online reputation. Informative content provides long-term advantages as well. As your connections share your content, their contacts share it as well.
4. Customize Your LinkedIn Profile URL
No one’s going to be typing your full LinkedIn profile URL into their browser, don’t worry. But a custom LinkedIn profile URL is still important. There’s no better way to linger on the minds of first-time visitors than your full name spelled out in your custom URL.
5. Make Sure Your Personal Details Are Accurate And Updated
It takes just a few minutes to confirm that your profile has accurate, current information about who you are and what you do. If you need to change anything, you almost certainly have the requisite information close at hand.
6. Tighten Up Your LinkedIn Bio
This might take a hair longer, but it’s absolutely worth your while. A tight, comprehensive, on-brand LinkedIn profile is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition without crossing readers’ eyes.
7. Choose a Photo That Shows You Doing And Not Being
Action speaks louder than words — or, in this case, a boring LinkedIn profile picture. Why settle for a stuffy headshot when you can reveal an essential truth about your personal or professional passions? There’s a reason the main LinkedIn photo for NBA superstar LeBron James features James doing one of the many things he does best — in this case, sinking a long two over some faceless opponent’s outstretched arm.
8. Let The Endorsements Begin
Don’t shy away from asking your colleagues, clients, vendors or any other connections for LinkedIn endorsements. Like it or not, a surfeit of endorsements lends your profile credibility, forcing those who otherwise wouldn’t give you a second look to, well, give you a second look.
9. Engage Consistently
Engage with thought leaders — and rank-and-file folks, too —who work in your industry. Every “like” and respectful comment is a chance to catch the eye of someone whose endorsement (or contract) could change the course of your career.
10. Put In At Least 30 Minutes Per Week
That’s right, thirty minutes is all the average person needs to buttress their LinkedIn presence and ensure that their voices stay audible above the day-in, day-out din.
No matter how much else you have on your plate, you can find 30 minutes per week on LinkedIn to attend to your most important professional social profile. Your image — and your ability to reach the personal and professional goals you’ve set for yourself — depends on it.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about how to maximize your LinkedIn social selling and professional networking.
Interested in more articles about better LinkedIn management?