Top Tips for LinkedIn for Small BusinessAnita Kirkbride
LinkedIn is the network I get the fewest questions about, so I tend to forget to write blog posts about it. On the second to last day of my 12 Days of Social Media, I thought it was high time I give you some of the best tips for making use of LinkedIn.
Don’t pay for LinkedIn Premium
Most small business owners do not need to pay for the premium LinkedIn account. There are two main “benefits”: you can see more information about who is looking at your profile, and you can send InMail messages to people you are not yet connected to. Most of the small business owners I see don’t even know you can see who’s been looking at your profile and/or don’t care, so the extra information isn’t of any use to them. And, for the number of times I want to send a message on LinkedIn to someone with whom I’m not yet connected, I simply send them a connection request and then follow up. That said, there are people who mine LinkedIn for potential business and do need to be able to send more elaborate messages, or see more info about who is looking at their profiles. If you need that, then by all means, upgrade.
Think About Your Headline
Don’t waste precious space in your headline by simply saying you are the CEO, Partner, Founder, or Entrepreneur. Unless you are Richard Branson, “entrepreneur” just isn’t going to cut it. If you are a small business owner, you need to use that space to tell potential clients what you do. Very few people go to LinkedIn and search for a “CEO” or an “entrepreneur”. They’re looking for a bookkeeper (who may be the President of her own business), or a lawyer (who may well be a partner in the firm). See what I mean? Get some of your keyword phrases into that headline.
Double Check Your Contact Info
I cannot count how many times I’ve had people check their contact info only to find that it’s outdated…pointing people to an email address they no longer even have access to, or a phone they no longer answer. That’s lost opportunities right there!
Know Your Password
If you need to make any changes to your contact info because it is outdated, make sure you know your password. As a security measure, LinkedIn will ask you for your password when you try to make those changes. If you no longer have access to the primary email address listed in your account, this is going to be very difficult to recover. If you’ve forgotten your password LinkedIn will try to send you an email to the “primary” email address listed in your account…so it’s vital that you have access to at least that one email address listed in your contact info.
Customize Your Public URL
Take a few minutes to customize the public URL for your profile. If you have a very common name, it will make it much easier for your contacts to find you if you can say go to ca.LinkedIn.com/in/anitakirkbride.
Summarize Your Present
The summary is not the place to outline all of the work you did in the past. Use this space to talk about the type of work you want to do now and in the future. This is a very important space for the LinkedIn search engine, so if you fill it up with keywords from your past career, that’s what LinkedIn is going to think is important about you, and that is what types of searches you will show up in. Present and future-facing.
Add Some Fun Stuff
If you’ve spent days and days on a major presentation, think about adding the video or the slide deck to your summary section so people can check it out. It adds visual interest, but it also gives potential clients/customers a chance to see your expertise in action. Transferring a PowerPoint presentation into SlideShare is pretty simple and not only can you add the SlideShare to your LinkedIn profile, but you have another piece of content you can easily share out on your social networks. Recycle!!
Complete Your Profile
Fill out as much information as you think is relevant to your current position. You don’t have to go back and fill out your part-time jobs from high school, but you should show a full history of your employment, education, extra training and certifications, and awards you’ve won. People are also interested in seeing your volunteer commitments and publications.
Get Active in Groups
The trick to groups in LinkedIn is to find ones that are active, but without a lot of spam. You’re looking for groups that are relevant to you, your customers or your geographic area, but that are filled with thoughtful conversation, not simply a bunch of links to members’ blogs. Getting active in groups can boost your expert status.
Connect With People
Personally, I will accept connection requests from pretty much anyone in my geographic target area, even if I don’t know them…maybe I will get to know them through LinkedIn. The thing is, you never know where your next referral will come from. Perhaps they’re connecting because they’ve heard good things about you and want to check you out a bit more.
Place More Weight on Recommendations Than Endorsements
LinkedIn gives us two ways to let a person know they’re good at their job: Endorsements are a quick and easy click of a button and Recommendations are a more thoughtful explanation of why you would recommend a person. Endorsements are a necessary evil, in my opinion. If you don’t have enough on your profile, people think there’s a reason…aesthetically it looks bad. However, if you think about all the endorsements you get from people you don’t know, for things you don’t excel at…you’ll understand why I don’t put a lot of stock in what people are endorsed for. Recommendations are a much better way to screen a potential candidate, client or supplier.
These are some of my most common LinkedIn tips from corporate training sessions. What’s the best LinkedIn tip you’ve ever received?