How to Optimize Your Business’ LinkedIn PresenceCreating a brand that attracts customers is easier than you think.
Many people use LinkedIn to land a job or network with their colleagues. But some business owners don’t realize that LinkedIn can be a goldmine for their small business. LinkedIn has several helpful tools for small business owners – and many of these resources are right at your fingertips on your personal LinkedIn page.
Polish your profile
Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, recommends starting with your most precious resource: your LinkedIn profile. Thomas outlines five keys to a professionally optimized LinkedIn profile:
● A professional profile photo
● A clear title
● An updated work history
● A stellar professional summary
● Up-to-date skill tags
“Remember to fill in the critical ‘areas of expertise’ step in the skills and endorsements area. These phrases can boost your search visibility within LinkedIn, reinforce what you know, and help others easily endorse you for your talents. Small actions like this simple tagging step can make a big difference,” Ross said.
Publish posts and updates
Small business owners can post simple updates (link to blog posts, share articles and news), upload photos, or blog within LinkedIn under the area called Publish a Post.
“View these posts as markeding (a mash-up of the words marketing and education – a term Ross trademarked). While LinkedIn is a social marketing platform, it is not a forum to hard sell your products and services. Posts need to be relevant and useful to your target audience. Think about what you want to share; great content posts are always educational,” Ross said.
Give your small business a face lift
“A professional profile picture does not need to be expensive, it simply needs to be a current photo of you that represents the image you want to convey in your profession. You cannot put a price on the power of an approachable photo. Make sure it is current, professional and approachable,” Ross said.
Use an effective title and business summary
A clear job title communicates who you are, what you do and whom you serve. This does not have to be the title on your business card.
For example, “If you are an executive chef, don’t just use ‘Executive Chef’ as the title; make sure it is interesting and includes all of your passions. For example, ‘Executive Chef, Butter Aficionado, Cookbook Creator’; ‘Executive Chef, Comfort Food Evangelist’; or ‘Culinary Instructor.’
This is your make-or-break opportunity, so write an effective title that voices your value and expertise,” Ross said.
So many small business owners fail to write a compelling summary that succinctly explains who they are, what they do and whom they serve. Weaving in the value of what you do and why you do it becomes a very powerful voice, Ross said.
“The old saying, ‘If you want to be interesting, be interested’ is reversed with social networking sites like LinkedIn. If you want people to be interested in you and your small business, you need to be interesting! Don’t just list your job title (called your professional headline) and work history. If you are the CEO, be more descriptive,” Ross said.
For example, Ross is a web marketing expert and CEO of her company, but calls herself The Marketing Therapist, Wild Web Woman®, Speaker, Author & CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, Inc.
People learn by doing, and LinkedIn is no different, Ross said.
“Getting on LinkedIn and doing things is the biggest obstacle for some people to overcome,” Ross said. “I suggest taking courses on Lynda.com, a LinkedIn Company. I teach a course on personal branding that has helped thousands of people.”
Read daily news and self-publish with Pulse
Pulse is your professional news digest. It’s a single place to get your daily news, powered by the business world and your colleagues. In addition, self-publishing via LinkedIn Pulse, or writing blog posts on LinkedIn that target an enormous user base, can help you gain visibility in your industry, educate readers about your small business, and connect with new customers.
LinkedIn and Pulse have fully integrated to provide a great news experience that is tailored to your business’ needs. Check out the new app to start navigating on Pulse. Here is a handy tutorial to help you get started: How to Publish on Pulse: A Beginner’s Guide.
Articles, groups and webinars
Bill Corbett Jr., CEO of Corbett Public Relations, agrees that LinkedIn resources can help you get up to speed quickly.
“There are books, blogs, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, LinkedIn groups and other communities. There are also online courses that can be very helpful,” Corbett said.
However, because LinkedIn can seem complex to some small business owners, Corbett suggests taking a webinar or a real-time training class, or hiring a coach/trainer.
“I offer LinkedIn training and coaching, but there are many people who do this. Remember to examine the trainer’s credentials before you hire the person,” Corbett said.
It’s also valuable to talk with a coach who can guide you through the LinkedIn website, explain the importance of each element in your profile, keywords, groups, teach you how to connect, add video, ask for recommendations and learn about other important LinkedIn strategies.
“One-on-one training allows you to take learning at your own pace, ask questions and see firsthand how you can use LinkedIn,” Corbett said. One word of caution: “There are a lot of people trying to sell classes, programs and systems on how to sell on LinkedIn. Some have good content, but many are just trying to sell you something or up-sell you other services.”
LinkedIn training should be done in the context of marketing and personal branding, because LinkedIn is a marketing, branding and relationship tool.