Do you have an account on LinkedIn? If so, how are you using it to secure good clients or plum job offers?
Celebrating its 12th year, LinkedIn is the most important professional network for individuals and businesses. Unfortunately, many still treat LinkedIn as an electronic rolodex.
Failing to recognise the full potential of the social network, you literally leave career and growth opportunities on the table.
How then should we take advantage of LinkedIn to build a better future for ourselves?
LinkedIn – the social network preferred by CEOs
Before we dive into the details of how you can boost your business on LinkedIn, let us look at why LinkedIn is so important for your professional success.
Officially launched on 5 May 2003, LinkedIn is the number one professional social network in the world. Founded by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant, LinkedIn currently has over 400 million users.
Comparatively speaking, LinkedIn has a 2.74% visit to lead conversion ratio compared to Facebook (0.77%) and Twitter (0.69%). For B2B marketers and professionals, it sure does sound like a good place to look for business (see chart below from HubSpot).
Now that you are convinced of the power of LinkedIn, what should you do?
#1 Build a professional looking LinkedIn profile
The first thing you need to do in LinkedIn marketing is to build a professional looking profile. Now this is probably one of the most painstaking task you will ever do. However, it is certainly well worth the effort.
Here’s how my LinkedIn profile looks. It may not be pretty, but I guess it does the job for me.
There are several things to take note of when building your profile:
Complete all of the sections to make your profile complete. Yes, it can be a major pain in the butt when you first start. A quick way to reduce the time needed is to import your CV and to make adjustments thereafter.
Improve and refine your profile little by little each day. Don’t kill yourself trying to get everything in all at once.
Use the right keywords in the section just below your name. This is especially useful if you are a consultant or a professional offering specific services. In my case, I have listed my work as a content strategist there.
Fill your summary (more on that below) and past employment. Focus on achievements – not job descriptions.
If you wish, include past examples of your work. They may include slides, videos, graphics, images, e-Books, white papers and others. Personally, I haven’t had the time to do that yet, but don’t let that stop you.
This is easy and should be done as soon as possible, especially if you are in the professional services or B2B sector.
In my case, I used my online brand name and monicker (https://sg.linkedin.com/in/coolinsights) to be in my URL. I do this because I try to achieve a consistent nick across all my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn). If you are not a blogger, however, you should choose the URL which best identifies you.
By claiming your custom URL, you are much more likely to rank in the top few searches when somebody keys in your name into a search engine.
#4 Connect with the right people
The power of LinkedIn lies in its ability to connect professionals from across the globe. However, you be discriminating in choosing who you should connect to.
Connect with like-minded folks who have some form of professional or personal relationship with you. They include:
Current and ex colleagues and bosses
Clients, suppliers, distributors and other business partners
Potential clients, mentors, and other influencers
Friends and family members (at least those whom you have a professional relationship with)
Former classmates and alumni associates from university, polytechnics or school
If you are extending an invitation to connect to a complete stranger, please do some research on the person. Do not just use the standard message – customise it to share why you are connecting to him or her, and describe a little about what you do.
Initially, I connected mainly with my direct business associates, colleagues, clients and friends. Over time, however, I found folks adding me on LinkedIn rather than the other way around.
With a total of 45,000 standard skills listed on LinkedIn, there are bound to be skills that fit you like a glove.
Once you have listed your skills, you should seek to get yourself endorsed. This can be done by simply requesting for it from your connections, or just by endorsing them first and watching the law of reciprocity work its magic!
While some may view these endorsements as a gamification gimmick by LinkedIn (and I have no doubt that it is), I must admit that I do look at a person’s endorsements when I suss them out on LinkedIn. I’m sure you do too!
#6 Join and create LinkedIn groups
To further harness the social networking capabilities of LinkedIn, consider joining a group related to your industry or business.
Personally, I am a member of 37 different Groups on LinkedIn. I usually join groups that are related to my business or professional interests, and urge you to do likewise.
According to this article, visitors who arrive from LinkedIn groups convert at a much higher rate. Beyond that, LinkedIn groups provide the following benefits:
Ability to connect with leaders and potential customers in your industry
Discussions and news on what’s trending in your trade
Showcase your expertise and experience by answering questions
Enhance your online networking skills by allowing you to connect to others
Message members of the groups you are in, even if you are not connected
To bring your LinkedIn game even further, you can consider creating your own LinkedIn group.
Like any social network, LinkedIn works better if you engage actively with the members of your network.
Here are some things that you can do to deepen relationships with your LinkedIn connections:
Like and comment on the posts of your connections
Share their LinkedIn posts on your own profile
Comment on a discussion in one of your LinkedIn groups
Start a discussion on a LinkedIn group – yours or others
Congratulate someone on a new job or anniversary
Comment on someone’s new profile picture
#8 Write and publish on LinkedIn Pulse
Like any social network, content marketing is the lifeblood of LinkedIn. With LinkedIn’s own news and blog sharing network Pulse, thought leaders now direct channel to share their articles with their followers.
From my experience in writing articles on LinkedIn Pulse, I find that how tos, trends, news, research and insights work quite well. Posts that ask questions are also effective.
The important thing about writing on LinkedIn or any social network is to keep trying and experimenting. You can see from my own experience that not all articles receive the same levels of engagement.
#9 Avoid hard selling or spamming
Last, but certainly not least, you should treat your LinkedIn followers and contacts with respect.
Nobody likes to be hard-sold to on LinkedIn. Neither would they enjoy being interrupted by an unwelcome intruder trying to sell snake oil.
Here are some cardinal rules that I personally adhere to:
Avoid adding somebody on LinkedIn just to immediately send them a sales message
Avoid using the LinkedIn Pulse platform to write advertising or sales messages disguised as helpful articles
Focus your posts on helping others rather than promoting yourself
Reciprocate with a like or a comment on the posts of those who have engaged with your content
Beyond LinkedIn, social media marketing covers many other areas. You need to understand how each social channel works, know what content format to use, and learn how to measure and track success.
Drawing from 10 years of experience in blogging, social media and content marketing, I will share what I know in a social media marketing workshop beginning in February 2016. Done with Equinet Academy, this rigorous two-day workshop will equip you with practical hands-on experience in social media marketing.
At the workshop, I will share interesting case studies of brands which have successfully used Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels. I will also teach you how to set up a social media calendar, work with influencers, and create buzz worthy content.