The three comments I hear most often about LinkedIn are:
- "It seems overwhelming—I just don't know where to start."
- "It's not the right network for my B2B/B2C/Entrepreneurial/Fortune 500 company."
- "I've been on LinkedIn for 'insert number of years here,' and it has never brought me any business."
LinkedIn is a huge network and continues to grow, adding new features every week. Take one tip a day and, in less than two weeks, you'll have a vibrant profile and network, and should start to see some return on your time investment.
LinkedIn is for anyone in business, or anyone who wants to be.
1. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a website
Make sure your profile is formatted, clean and free of spelling and grammatical errors. I strongly suggest creating your LinkedIn profile in a word document first, not only so you can catch errors, but so you can get a better idea of what your profile will look like on the LinkedIn website.
In some sections of LinkedIn you can pull in bullets and special characters. There is still no bolding or italics other than what LinkedIn formats.
Also, if you've already created your profile in a word document, you can easily copy sections of it into other social media platforms to keep your branding unified.
2. Know your keywords
Like any website, LinkedIn's internal search engine weighs your keywords heavily in its searches. Make sure you strategically place your most important search keywords throughout your profile. Some places you might want to consider are your:
- Professional headline
- Title fields
- Education (activities and societies)
3. Keep your photo professional
I recommend a close-up and a smile. A full body shot of you and your family, you and your car, or you and that fish you caught last week is unclear and unprofessional. I have seen some artists use artistic renderings of themselves, which is clever if your image is still clear. LinkedIn doesn't like logos.
4. Don't ignore the "post an update" function
LinkedIn's update function is more robust than it used to be. People can now like and comment on your updates, which helps build relationships within LinkedIn.
With the introduction of LinkedIn Signal, the update section can now be a functional part of your subject matter expertise and content strategy. Make sure you take a time each day to like and comment on the updates of your network. You can do this on the home page.
5. Personalize your public profile URL
Make sure your public profile reflects your name, and your business or area of expertise.
Also, personalize your URL. Nothing says, "I'm a LinkedIn neophyte" like a public profile that reads: http://linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname9890734-akjshfiho.
6. Personalize your websites
When you edit your website, the drop down menu gives you the option of "other." When you click on that, a new field opens up that allows you to type in your business name, website name, call to action or description of your website. Instead of "Company Website" or "Personal Website," this section can read "Social Media for Women" or "Click here: IP Legal Advice."
7. Juice up your "experience" section
"Experience" is not your resume. The jobs you list should support each other. Make sure you put all your keywords in the title section.
Use the 1,000 characters in the description section to tell people why they should hire you or your company, or why they should buy your product. Tell a "save the day" story. Put in a testimonial. "Experience" is a great place to list wins, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented, or a mini-shot of your personal website. Use this section as the foundation for your company profile.
8. List your additional education
Make sure you list your certifications and licenses as well as traditional education. LinkedIn has now added new sections where you can list areas of expertise, publications, patents, licenses and certifications.
9. Get recommendations
LinkedIn tells you your profile is complete with three recommendations. I recommend at least 10. When you ask for recommendations, give a bulleted list of what you might want the person to say so that your recommendation is more than, "she's nice." If you are comfortable doing so, you might write a recommendation that the recommender can use or base his recommendation on. You might want to add some of the better recommendations to your website. Ask for them from thought leaders in your field, old employees and well-known clients.
10. Join strategic groups
Join groups in your market or industry or your client's industry. It's also smart to join groups that you are interested in, that your target prospects are members of, as well alumni groups, open groups and some big groups (Consider LinkedHR with 400,000 members). Once you join a group you can send a message to strategic members/prospects, or invite strategic members to connect with you.
For more posts on groups, check out:
11. Limit the invitations you send
You only get 3,000 invitations in a lifetime-use them wisely. Even though LinkedIn gives you the tools to upload your entire list, make sure you only invite people who are already on LinkedIn, and don't invite more than 2,500 people. Leave a few invitations for the future. At this time you can't buy more invitations, although you might be able to beg for some more from customerservice@LinkedIn.com.
12. When inviting others, tell them how you know them
LinkedIn used to have an "I don't know" button that could get you in a lot of trouble. Now a person's response to an invitation can only be "accept" or "ignore." Nevertheless, when inviting someone to connect with you, I highly recommend telling him how you know him or why you want to connect. I would also add the disclaimer: "If you feel you have received this message in error, or simply don't want to connect, please ignore this invitation."
Viveka von Rosen is a LinkedIn speaker, trainer and consultant. She moderates #LinkedInChat on Twitter, and blogs at Linked into Business. This article originally ran on The 12 Most… blog.