If yours is a B2B business (meaning, your customers are other businesses versus consumers), then by now you probably know the value of LinkedIn. Not only does LinkedIn deliver credibility, but it can help you make the right networking connections and drive leads. With 300 million business members, you are sure to find key prospects in virtually every business niche.
Reaching them through LinkedIn is not about luck or chance. It’s about strategy and knowing how to use LinkedIn.
If you read “It All Begins with Your LinkedIn Profile ” you will know that I am obsessed with the profile as the cornerstone of all LinkedIn activity. Without a robust, informative profile, who of any merit would want to connect with you?
Operating with a solid strategy and some carefully defined goals, and then building a great profile, you can accomplish great things with, and on, LinkedIn. It is all within your grasp. Your profile needs to instantly grab the viewer’s attention. More importantly, it needs to encourage them to action: To explore more, connect, or reach out for another reason.
A profile must be professional, but the best ones are interesting and sometimes fun. They should make the visitor want to connect with you. An incomplete or blah profile may cause the visitor to just pass by — then your opportunity is wasted.
I’ve come up with a LinkedIn profile ranking system. While it may seem arbitrary, it is based on some strong experience:
- I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for over ten years now.
- I have studied, spoken and written about, and coached the use of LinkedIn since 2008.
- My profile generates qualified leads on a regular basis.
- In 2009, seven profiles out of nearly 60 million were chosen as the best on LinkedIn in the Rock the World with Your Online Presence contest. Mine was one of the seven selected.
Be honest with yourself if you want the best results. Take a long look at your LinkedIn profile with an eye toward where and how you can improve it. I am going to show you how.
LinkedIn Profile Tips
Your LinkedIn rank is comprised of thirteen different elements:
The name you are known by in professional circles. No one introduces you as “Joe Smith, MBA’ so leave the degrees, certifications and other stuff for later. And names in ALL CAPS is for elementary school.
It should be you, smiling. A head and shoulder shot with good lighting that creates a professional impression. No photos of the kids or your pets, please. There’s a time and place for sharing personal photos – your LinkedIn profile is not it.
This is valuable real estate so use it well. Do not have your job title, as that shows up very soon anyway. Incorporate your major skill into the headline.
It should outline what you do and how your background helped. Avoid platitudes and meaningless adjectives. This is the beginning of your story, so write in the first person and be conversational in tone. Be clear. How will someone know you’re the right person to hire or engage if they can’t understand what you are good at?
The ones that are your primary and secondary skills – tell the world what they are and don’t be shy about it.
This provides good information on your company, the work you do for that company, the special projects you have worked on, and other important details. List the business your company is in, what you do there, market(s) served, and other pertinent details.
Skills and Expertise
This is an area that should be used to reinforce what you specialize in. Many don’t seem to realize you can edit this. LinkedIn allows up to 50 skills, but no one is going to read fifty. Therefore, do not include every single skill you have. Select those that enhance the message you want your profile to convey – jettison the rest.
Your group selection is something people checking you out will look at. Important: You must be in groups outside of your company and alumni groups if you want to connect. Join industry association groups as well. This is not about numbers, but about quality. Whichever professional groups you are in – be active in them.
Your Use of Graphics
Photo and video uploads, presentation uploads, etc. This is another area where few know that you can enhance your profile. Add visuals to any section of your profile to make it more interesting and engaging. You can access this feature in the “Edit profile” mode.
You should include association memberships, honors and awards. Include past and current affiliations, and include roles in those groups.
Advice for “Contacting Me”
This is where you let people know what types of contact you encourage and welcome. It delivers it in clear, concise language. When others see that, it encourages them to reach out.
Those of the written variety are great profile enhancers. There are two parts to this. The first part is getting recommendations. Try to encourage others to give recommendations. How do you that? That’s where the second part comes in — giving recommendations. We all have people who have assisted us in our careers. Acknowledge those people. Give written recommendations to them, and then you may start receiving recommendations in turn.
The Overall Impression
This is created by each of the above. It needs to make you look great.
A profile is a work in progress. Keep making progress on yours by updating and improving it on an ongoing basis.
Want more? See my article on using LinkedIn to develop thought leadership .
Lead  Photo via Shutterstock