When it comes to social networks, numbers are important but they’re not the whole story. LinkedIn has over 430 million users which is fewer than Twitter or Facebook but impressive nonetheless. What’s more striking, however, is the fact that one in three professionals such as contractors, consultants, and accountants has a LinkedIn account and that over 40% of them check the network every day. As a professional, it’s the one platform you can’t afford to ignore because simply put, LinkedIn is all about business – so how do use LinkedIn to market your goods or services?
Your profile, your shop window
Having an effective LinkedIn profile will help to attract contacts, whether you’re looking for freelance opportunities or promoting your business. If you already have a profile, is it all it should be or is it time for a revamp?
– Use a professional photo: LinkedIn says that if you use a profile photo, you’re seven times more likely to be found in a search so be sure to add one if you haven’t already done so. Remember, LinkedIn is for professionals, so your photograph should project the right image. Smile and look approachable by all means, but resist photos of you with your cat, kids or significant other!
– Keywords: Unless you’re already known, users will find you by searches based on industry or skills-related keywords, so use these in your profile and all other sections. For example, if you’re a photographer, obvious keywords to include are ‘freelance photographer’, ‘professional photographer’.
– Summary: Use the summary sections of your profile to say what benefits you offer potential customers. Instead of just saying, “I’m a freelance photographer”, say, “I take the kind of photographs you’ll treasure!”
– You’re a professional, so use proper grammar and make sure your summary and other sections are free of typos – and remember to drop in those keywords.
– Make it easy for people to see the skills you offer in the Specialities’ section of your summary by using bullet points, or a separate line for each area of expertise.
– Experience: Be honest and focus on the benefits your experience offers to clients rather than simply list what you’ve done.
– Improve your profile: Click on this option to add information about any projects or publications you’ve been involved in; details of volunteer experience, and any certificates or awards you’ve received. Don’t be shy, the more you put out the more likely you are to connect with others!
Work those recommendations
Getting recommendations is a way to make your profile stand out and help you to land new clients, so ask for recommendations from members who can endorse your professional skills. One way to get more recommendations is to first write one for another LinkedIn member who will then be asked if they will write one for you.
Update your profile regularly
Remember you online profile is available 24/7 to potential clients and connections so as well as making it shine, ensure you keep it fresh and up to date. This is important as each time to update your profile, everyone in your network is notified.
You’re more likely to yield positive results and build your network by being active in the following areas:
– Post regular updates: Write about your latest projects, touching on the unique challenges you face perhaps, and include who you are working for. Try and keep it relevant to your target audience and be willing to share insights or strategies that may be useful to them in their business.
– Join groups: By joining groups related to your sector or interests, you can get involved in meaningful conversations. This can be great for establishing yourself as an expert, thought-leader or problem-solver, but don’t see every conversation as an opportunity to promote your business. Contribute by answering questions or offering solutions.
– Upgrade to paid membership? LinkedIn has various paid-for upgrade options, including career, sales, business, and hiring that will increase your contact opportunities. You can always take a free trial and see whether or not it works for your business.
– LinkedIn advertising: There’s a cost factor here but it’s still relatively cheap. Advertising can be an effective and quick way of getting your goods or services seen.
Create a LinkedIn company page
If your business is expanding and you’re taking on more staff, another option worth considering is creating a LinkedIn company page. You can click on this option in when completing or updating your profile. Your company page will be automatically linked. Company pages are great for raising brand awareness and telling potential customers about the products and services you offer as well as helping to drive traffic to your website.
You can upload your company logo and banner image and say in 2,000 characters what your company has to offer. Here’s our company page on LinkedIn.
Stuck for ideas?
Check out how other people, including your competitors, are leveraging LinkedIn to market their business, for inspiration. And don’t be afraid to ask people in your group if they have any suggestions or ideas you can borrow.