The LinkedIn platform is free and is an invaluable tool to help people keep in contact, build and connect with your network, find potential business partners, position yourself as an expert and win new business.
So here are our 5 steps to getting started with a LinkedIn profile.
To get started, go to www.linkedin.com, and simply provide some basic information: name, email address, location and current employer / business name.
2. Optimise your profile:
Before you start completing your profile detail, you should think about who you want to attract and also connect with, and additionally understand what people are likely to search for
- Use an attractive headline using keywords, for example, “Supporting other business owners with bookkeeping services” says more, not just in the number of words, than “Bookkeeper” alone.
- Upload a professional profile photo. This helps create a first impression and increases the likelihood of being found in searches as your face will be recognised.
- Create a summary that focuses on your strengths and experience, which is in effect your credibility statement.
- Like your online CV, look to include your most recent positions with full descriptions. This gives you credibility and enables those viewing your profile to know, like and trust you, which they need to establish before buying from you.
- Include all the contact details that you wish to have available to access online, including your Twitter accounts, web sites and standard contact information.
- In the Skills and Endorsements sections, add those which you want others to endorse you for.
3. Build your contacts
Start by searching for your key contacts, those that can influence the goals for your business such as clients, referrers, advisers and advocates. You can easily upload your email contacts to LinkedIn and the platform will then identify those that are already on LinkedIn, who you can invite to connect, or highlights others that you may wish to invite to join your online network. You can also search for individuals by typing in a company name, simply typing in their name or viewing members of groups. The advanced search feature can help you search using other criteria, such as job roles and location.
When inviting someone to connect, consider using a short statement that is more than the standard default phrase and gives the person a reason to connect with you.
4. Endorsements for your expertise
The objective is to get your contacts saying how good you are, which is always much more powerful for your marketing than having to say it yourself.
There are two sections that will support your profile and credibility to readers. They are ‘Skills and Endorsements’ and ‘Recommendations’.
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations or endorsements. Your contacts on LinkedIn have agreed to connect as they know, like and trust you already, so they should have no objection to your request.
Aim to receive three recommendations first, as they are your online testimonials, and to be honest endorsements are also much easier to obtain.
As with any request, the timing is everything, but it is easy to make contact via the LinkedIn platform with a message to request such a recommendation. You can also consider giving recommendations yourself, but it is no guarantee to receive one in return and sometimes it looks like the only reason you received the recommendation is because you gave one to them.
Then look to include your education that is relevant to your profession. In addition, if you have produced any publications you can list these.
5. Update your status
Like many social media platforms, status updates drive LinkedIn, so a regular update keeps you in connection with your network and keeps you in their mind.
Ideas for your status update could include: What you are working on; sharing what you have read/industry news; give your advice or opinion on a hot topic; share your expertise; or pose a question.
Everything you say should be relevant to your work and not just a sales message.
So now you have a profile, what next?
Join groups and contribute to discussions
You can search for groups to join. Type in what you’re interested in, follow the groups and demonstrate your expertise by making comments in existing discussions or creating your own. But be careful not to get involved in any ‘hot potato’ topics that could have the opposite effect on your reputation. Groups to follow may be around your industry or a niche area that you work in.
Build your network
Make more connections. The stronger your network, the more likely you are to be found by others you already know or who are looking for your services.
Undertake regular activity
Activity that takes just a minute a day
- Write a status update
- Comment on another contact’s status update
- Endorse someone’s skills
- Click on “Who’s viewed my profile”; see who’s seeking you out
- View someone else’s profile, so you show on their LinkedIn as having an interest in them
Those activities that take just a couple of minutes a day
- Choose one discussion from one of your groups and comment
- Review one target client’s company profile to stay up to date with them
- Send a message to a contact you haven’t spoken to in a while; suggest a meeting if appropriate
- Write a recommendation for someone
And lastly, keep your profile updated, relevant and attractive to your network.