Your brand is you. Your branding is everything you do to promote yourself.
When LinkedIn  launched in 2003, it seriously changed this game and has continued to refine and define the importance of online business networking and branding. In a short time, LinkedIn has given individuals and businesses a professional online community to meet, socialize, interact, and learn from each other.
What started out as a place to post an online resume profile has now morphed into a vibrant, active, innovative content, educational and networking hub and a place for professionals to share their career story and meet other professionals.
When someone asks us what we do, or wants to find out more about what we do before we meet, we go to see their LinkedIn profile. It’s the most comprehensive online tool for professional branding. It’s a standard, best practice and must have.
Below are ways to use LinkedIn for branding to help you and your business stand out, get noticed and be remembered in the professional world.
How to Use LinkedIn for Branding
Of course we begin here, as LinkedIn still is the #1 platform to meet other professionals in our industry or related industries. Introductions by trusted connections to other trusted professionals or companies are the lifeblood of growing our networks, prospecting and forming partnerships and collaborations.
LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to qualify people. Make sure your profile sections are complete and that all the information is up to date.
Your LinkedIn profile should not be a laundry list of bullet points that don’t really flow or relate to each other. The best way to use LinkedIn today is to tell your career story in a more personal, first-person narrative in the summary and include highlights of your skills and qualifications that you utilized in those accomplishments.
Liz Ryan is a LinkedIn Influencer in the Career Management Space. She describes  what she does:
“We’re reinventing work so that it works for humans. It is easier to inspire and motivate people than to watch them like hawks.”
This tells you exactly what she does and why she is doing it in a very personalized way.
Stay inside of and on top of your industry, community and trends. Interact and engage as much as you can in groups, conversations and with people you are linked to. Post threads and put yourself out there so people can get to know you.
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and even challenge some as long as it is in a respectful way.
Use LinkedIn to meet up in person with as many local people that you can.
The explosion of content marketing via blogs, video, podcasts, whitepapers, training, eBooks, books and dedicated social media content strategies can all give you a platforms and outlets to promote yourself, what you do, want to be known for.
LinkedIn Pulse, the publishing platform is open to all LinkedIn members and is a way to educate and inform.
Use LinkedIn to promote your professional activities via status updates, linking to those activities, or creating a LinkedIn Event. Grand opening, additional location, new employee, awards, recognitions, events, trainings; whatever activity is going on can be promoted through LinkedIn. Remember: this is a professional platform so stay focused and don’t get too salesy or self-serving.
It’s one thing to build connections and quite another to actually use, access and refer them. I regularly get people asking me for introductions or wanting to introduce me. As long as it’s the right motive and intent, I am glad to refer and be referred.
We can feature our ideas, services and amenities, but LinkedIn is a premier place to feature your clients, customers, community and colleagues who you trust, admire and align with. Sharing great articles and people with our community is an integral part of serving them.
It’s important to let you know who I am, but also important to bring other assets and ideas to you from other sources and professionals.
LinkedIn Pulse, the interests and influencers sections offer one of the largest professional daily content sources with fresh articles and resources on sales, marketing, networking, business, professionalism, career transition and more all in one place by top professionals.
Set up alerts and customize the industries you are interested in and whenever possible contribute valuable content.
No matter what you do or are professionally interested in, there is a LinkedIn group that you can join or start.
Groups can be accessed under the Interests tab and they bring people together from all over the world to meet up, engage and share information. The one caveat about groups is the importance of being a part of the conversation without being too self-serving. Most groups monitor this and enforce their guidelines, unless selling products and services is what the group is about.
Being in a few key group(s) and getting involved regularly is better than being in too many groups and not building a consistency.
Infographics, studies and surveys really get people’s attention on LinkedIn. Current data about business, marketing, sales, branding and professionalism is something we all welcome to help us stay motivated. Original content is always something that can make you stand out, but aggregating sources and sharing it with your community can be just as valuable.
Learn about using LinkedIn to conduct surveys here.
Twenty-first Century prospecting is all about solid relationships, introductions or referrals.
The days of “cold calling” and dropping in unannounced are basically over, but we still must prospect. LinkedIn can be an amazing source for generating leads for sales, partnerships, collaborations and more.
Getting involved with groups, your connections conversations, or starting one of your own can attract very qualified people and companies. If you are wondering how to use LinkedIn more for lead generation then check out these creative ways to use LinkedIn for lead generation  from the Young Entrepreneur Council.
Tools and Plugins
LinkedIn has become an active professional hub for many professionals. There are also some apps, tools and LinkedIn WordPress plugins  that are available to you that connect your readers to your LinkedIn profile.
What are some ways you use LinkedIn for branding, to help you build your business connections?
LinkedIn Headquarters  Photo via Shutterstock