Do you really need a LinkedIn profile? Yes you do. With the world wide web and social media taking over the universe the way people buy goods and do business is ever-changing. Think about the last time you bought a television or a cell phone. Why did you choose Sony over LG or Apple over Samsung? It’s probably because you saw a photo posted on social media or watched a review on YouTube. Nowadays we very rarely do anything – especially if it involves money – without searching the internet first.
How being online helps your business
Word of mouth – even from people we don’t know on social media – is priceless. It’s also very valuable for your business. That’s why you need to be online and become a trusted source of information and for reliable service.
Take a minute and think about the other side of the sales equation, not as the buyer but as the business owner. Before someone calls to book an appointment, buys your products or uses your services the odds are they’re going to look you up online. Wouldn’t it be nice to control what they see?
Why you should have a LinkedIn profile
That’s where the beauty of social media comes in. LinkedIn is a professional platform where you can showcase your area of expertise, build credibility with experience as well as build connections with clients, potential clients and centers of influence.
When you look at my LinkedIn profile do you like what you see? It should be very clear what I do and how I help small business owners with content. To help build credibility the profile also showcases my education, experience and publications. Now have a look at your LinkedIn profile and ask yourself, do you like what you see?
What would happen if an existing client referred a potential client to you and that potential client searched your name in Google. Would they find you? If so do you appear as a well experienced, influential, trusted source? You should – that is if they find you at all.
If a potential client or center of influence can’t find you online what do you think they’ll do? They will most likely move on to the next business. That’s bad for your bottom line. It’s also why you should build a LinkedIn profile. Don’t worry it’s not as hard as it sounds, I’m going to walk you through it. If you get stuck you can always contact me with questions.
8 ways to improve your LinkedIn profile:
Make a good first impression with a good photo
When you go to a website (go to any website, do it now) what’s the first thing you see. The images, right? The same thing is true for your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your photo is a clear shoulder or waist shot of you in professional attire. No family, friends, sunglasses or beach photos please. It’s a good idea to keep your photo up to date so you look the same in person as you do online.
Your name and title should be clear
If people know you as Johnny then don’t use John or Jonathan on LinkedIn. People nowadays have a very low attention span (less than 8 seconds) and if something seems complicated they will move on. You don’t want them to move on because you want them to scroll through your profile, learn more about you and eventually contact you. So make sure people instantly recognize you and what you do online.
Your title below your name can be edited to a tagline. If you don’t customize it the default is your current job title.
Add in your contact information
You’re online to be contacted and connected with. That’s why it’s a good idea to put as much information as possible to make it easy for people to contact you. You would be surprised how many small business owners (mostly financial advisors and real estate agents) who contact me for help with building their LinkedIn profile and don’t even have contact information. How can you do business if clients can’t even get in touch? The answer is you can’t.
Add in your location, email address and phone number as well as your website address and other social media channels.
Customize your personal URL
When you join LinkedIn they assign a URL (personal website address) that consists of your name as well as a bunch of letters and numbers afterwards. It’s totally random and it doesn’t help people find you online through search engines such as Google. It’s much better to have just your name.
To change your personal URL:
- Go to Profile, Edit Profile.
- Underneath your photo hover over the current website address and click the settings icon (it pops up to the right).
- On the top right hand side choose customize my public URL.
- Add in your name all small case and no spaces. If it’s not available add in a middle initial.
Write a short but informative summary
Your summary is your online elevator pitch. It should be three short paragraphs (3-4 sentences each) about who you are, what you do and how you can help or what you’re looking for on LinkedIn. The summary is at the top of your LinkedIn profile and will most likely determine if someone scrolls down to learn more about you – so make it good.
Add all current and past experience with descriptions
LinkedIn is a professional network and you want to make sure your expertise comes across. Writing a short job description with each position you’ve held helps people learn more about you and your experience. 2-3 sentences or 4-5 bullet points are all you need.
Keep it short and informative and repeat keywords when possible. The more you repeat the same skills and experience the more your expertise will resonate with people. As an added bonus the more you repeat keywords the more search engines will associate you with those words a.k.a. recommend you when people are searching for them. Choose 3-4 keywords and repeat them naturally whenever you can in your summary and job descriptions.
Flaunt your education, certifications and awards
I say if you’ve got it then flaunt it. Add all degrees and designations on LinkedIn. You worked hard for them and this is the place to show off your book smarts along with your work experience. If you don’t have these sections (all individual) on your LinkedIn profile right now you can add them. Actually while we are on the topic you should add as many sections as possible to your LinkedIn profile because the more people learn about you the more they will like you. When someone likes you they will choose to do business with you over the next guy.
To add a new section scroll to the top of your profile and look for the “add new section to your profile” option which is located just underneath your profile picture. There will be two coloured boxes with titles and in small print just below them you will see “add new section”.
Show off your skills
The last thing you want to do is look like a generalist online. Show off your area of expertise by adding 10-15 skills to your profile. Just like every other section with LinkedIn (education, certifications etc.) remember to always choose options from the dropdown list provided. You don’t want too many skills on your profile because you don’t want to look like a jack of all trades. You want to be the best at what you do and unfortunately that can’t be everything.
Think about the last time you Googled something. You probably searched for something very specific such as “how to cook a 10 pound Thanksgiving turkey well done” you probably didn’t search “how to cook Thanksgiving dinner” because that’s too general. You don’t want to be general online because when clients search something they are looking for something very specific and you want to be that expert.
Start typing the skill you want to add (such as Financial) and choose skills from the options provided (i.e. Financial Services, Financial Planning etc.). This helps you connect with others on LinkedIn who have the same skills; it also lets people find you who are searching for someone with those specific skills. LinkedIn offers this list of the year’s top skills to have on your profile, if they’re applicable of course.
Once you have these eight things on your LinkedIn profile you’re off to a great start. Be sure to add more sections, start connecting with people and if you’re feeling extra courageous even start blogging.
If you want more tips on building the perfect LinkedIn profile come back next Wednesday June 22 because I’ll be sharing tips on how to build your network, grow connections and send invitations that get accepted.