While many business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs have a LinkedIn account, most of them don’t really use it. Many are told that LinkedIn is important, but only end up making a barebones account that quickly falls into disuse. This is a big mistake though, as LinkedIn is easily the most professional social media platform, offering ample business opportunities and remaining largely free of the silliness you find on Facebook or Twitter. Some basic tweaks and 15-minutes per day, Barbara assures that you’ll build up a sizable following on LinkedIn in no time!
There are several reasons why LinkedIn is so appealing. While its user base doesn’t approach Facebook and Twitter’s billions, LinkedIn still boasts over 467 million users, with two new profiles added roughly every second. The age demographic on LinkedIn is also significantly different than most social media platforms, skewing towards users aged 35-64, often college educated and making an average of $75,000 a year. This means you’ll be dealing with experienced business people with the time and money to work with you. Furthermore, LinkedIn isn’t just a social media platform or a job recruitment site, it is also widely used as a search engine similar to Google and Yahoo.
The main reasons people seem to avoid LinkedIn is that it is perceived as being more formal and complicated than something like Facebook. But while the content on LinkedIn is more professional, the site functions very similarly to Facebook in most respects. You have a feed of the most recent posts made by those you follow, you can tag people and places and include hashtags to increase your engagement, there are groups you can join, and you can establish business pages separate from your personal profile. If you know how to use Facebook, it won’t be difficult to adjust.
Just like Facebook though, there are various steps you can take to improve your LinkedIn profile. The first step is to achieve what the site refers to a “complete” profile. This is accomplished by filling out every major category on your page. This might seem basic, but in 2016 only 51% of LinkedIn accounts had a 100% complete profile, so nearly half of users left out some important piece of information, which will definitely impact your search ranking.
Some of the essentials for having a “complete” LinkedIn account are as follows:
- A Profile Picture: Use the most professional photo you have. People are more likely to recognize you based on your face, not your name.
- Headline: List your current job title and location. It is recommended to use strong keywords in this section. Never use “CEO” or “Owner” in this area. When was the last time you searched for those words when looking for someone to connect with or do business with? Note: some people leave this part for last, as LinkedIn changes your headline to the latest addition to your career listed under the “Experience” section. However, this can be disabled in the options menu.
- Summary: Your “About Me” section. Go for around 1-3 paragraphs written in full sentences. Since users only see the first two lines by default, try to include something that’ll entice them to keep reading. Try to use keywords that you think potential clients would be searching for. Since your profile is set up similar to a resume, it is best to write in first person here. End your summary with a “Call to Action,” encouraging readers to take the next step.
- Experience: Just like you would on a resume, list all recent work history, as well as relevant jobs from your past. Clearly explain your duties and emphasize anything that demonstrates your skills and accomplishments.
- Education: List your school, GPA, and any awards or extracurricular activities that emphasize your strengths.
- Skills: A list of skills and fields of expertise. You can have as many as 50, but you must at least include 4 to be considered a “complete” profile.
- Connections: Connect with at least 50 people on LinkedIn. You can use your email contact list to find any friends and colleagues who are already on LinkedIn. Once you reach more than 500 connections, LinkedIn shows your connection amount as 500+ so your first goal should be to make 501 connections on the platform. The more connections you have, the more likely you will be found in searches.
A few other tips to consider: Barbara recommends getting a custom Header and Background. While not necessary, they can give your profile a feeling of professionalism. If you aren’t the artistic type, go on Fiverr get a customized background done for as low as $5 most times. Another step towards a more appealing and professional account is a branded URL: by default, your URL includes your name and a random string of numbers (about 16 of them). Barbara recommends changing it to something that’s more recognizable and easier to remember. Remove excess numbers and try to make the URL just include your name. This might be difficult if you have a common name, but you can add slight embellishments like dots, dashes, middle initials, etc. Either way, the URL should be easy for potential clients to get back to later.
Also, it’s important to consider that your followers can help strengthen your profile as well, by providing Endorsements and Recommendations. Endorsements allow you to select one of your connections skills and endorse them, confirming that they are talented in this area. Recommendations are short testimonials, where connections can praise and promote your current or past work. You can even request a Recommendation from a connection, just be sure that you aren’t pushy and that you’re asking someone you know well.
Once you’ve established a strong LinkedIn profile, you don’t have to put in as much time as you would for other social media platforms. One of LinkedIn’s most appealing features is that because it is slightly smaller than other social media sites, you don’t have to work as hard to engage with your audience. In fact, Barbara says you can build engagement by dedicated 15 minutes a day to LinkedIn. At first, it might take a little longer (Barbara recommends starting with 25-minutes, a full Pomodoro work session), but once you get used to the process, you’ll be surprised how fast it can go.
Barbara’s “15-Minutes a Day” Method works like this:
- Set your timer.
- Look at your network and add any pending connections. Don’t spend too much time browsing through the “People You Might Know” section though. (3-5 minutes)
- Only connect with people if your willing and capable of messaging them. While it’s easy to just add connections on LinkedIn, you keep people’s interest by engaging with them.
- Respond to any messages you have, and send any important messages you need to make. (3-5 minutes)
- If other users have mentioned you in a post, thank them! (1-2 minutes)
- You’ll often get messages telling you about birthdays or asking you to congratulate someone on a new position. There’s always the chance for mistakes though, so double check to make sure they actually have a new position or that it is there birthday. Also, avoid using the default response, give them a personalized greeting. (3-5 minutes)
- Go over who has recently viewed your profile. If you have a Premium account, you have complete access to who has viewed your profile. However, only the last few page views are shown if you have a Free account. As such, if you haven’t upgraded to Premium yet, checking this daily means you’re less likely to miss someone. (3-5 minutes)
- Make at least one post a week. LinkedIn doesn’t require as much attention as other social media platforms, but you still have to stay active. Also, along with normal “posts,” if you click “Write an article” you can write a more robust blog post using LinkedIn’s built-in blogging platform. Barbara recommends only writing around 500 words though. People aren’t on LinkedIn to read lengthy articles.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll soon find yourself leveraging LinkedIn in ways you never thought possible. And if you want more advice on using LinkedIn, Barbara teaches an advanced LinkedIn course as well. Check out the Fuse Business Training event calendar or the Fuse Facebook page for more details!