LinkedIn was recently dubbed ‘the most underestimated and underused social network online today’ on our favorite web 2.0 blog (in a comment on their post about how to set up your business profile on Linkedin). This might explain why more than 200 small business owners and free-lancers poured into the recent LinkedIn Training for Small Business led by Linkedin approved trainer, Dave Stevens and start-up founder Sunil Saha.
Maybe it is not as obvious how to use LinkedIn or what to put in your profile? Or maybe it hasn’t caught on yet, and you will be hearing as much about this social network in 2010 as we did about Twitter in 2009. Here are my favorite how-to’s from the event (and some of my own) to help you properly set your profiles up to take advantage of this trend. My own profile on their network illustrates many of these strategies, and the video at the end of this post shows exactly how to do some of these things.
Using Personal and Business Profiles Effectively on LinkedIn
In order to use LinkedIn at all you will need to first create a personal profile. If you have your own business you can also create a profile for your business. Keeping this in mind, focus the details of your personal profile on telling a story that folks will remember, touching on personal passions as much as business success. Since people do business with folks they know, like, and trust, you want to use the “summary” section of your profile to convey something interesting about yourself that will attract people with similar interests. A great story on how you landed a big business deal while volunteering at your local animal shelter, for example, lends a human interest touch to your boasting and helps others get to know part of you that builds towards trusted relationships.
Using Keywords In Your Personal Profile on LinkedIn
Once you have a good story in your summary, you can certainly follow with a short paragraph about the various areas of expertise you have, but avoid long lists and refer people to your resume or list of past jobs, instead of going on and on. Try to use strategic keywords that you would put in the search field of LinkedIn if you were looking for someone who does what you do.
Next build your tag line, the two to four keywords or phrases that summarize you under your photo wherever you post on the network. One strategy is to include a summary of what type of professional you are known as, or want to be known as. Another approach that seems effective is to make a short focused statement about what you help your clients do, your immediate value proposition. It also helps to include some intriguing hobbies or passions that help distinguish you from others. Imagine you are looking through a list of Project Managers, and one of them also lists “Rock Climber” or “Political Blogger” in their tag line; these personal details help you stand out and draw like-minded people into your network.
FACT: LinkedIn Profiles With Great Photos Work Better
Last but not least, upload a really GREAT photo of yourself. This is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile, and should be consistent with the branding of your website and any other business-oriented social network profiles you maintain. If you don’t have a great picture, hiring an expert at social media profile portraits can be a very good investment.
How To Set Up Work History on LinkedIn Properly
Fill in your work history carefully, starting with the oldest positions you want to list, working forward towards the most recent. Keep in mind that if you list two positions that have overlapping time frames, the one you add last will appear first. Use this info to set the order that you want others to see. You must put in a position at any business you want to make a profile for, if you intend to do that. While company pages don’t get as much attention on LinkedIn as they do on Facebook currently, there are some advantages to having one now, so you should set one up for your own company. See my personalprofile and our company Bardic Media on LinkedIn for example.
Setting Up Your Business Profile Effectively on LinkedIn
When you are ready to set up your LinkedIn business profile, you will need a graphic that is 120px wide by 60xp tall, ideally a version of your logo that matches your website. Choose the category for your business by searching for similar businesses and noticing what category is most often used. You will also need a 400 character or less description of your business. If you have a company blog, import it in the news section by adding the RSS feed address of your blog (to get this right click on the orange Feed Subscribe icon on your blog and copy the link location) and turn on the option to “include news” in the business profile edit screen.
If you want to learn the very basics about how to get started on LinkedIn, we found the tutorial video below to be a great resource. We’ll be adding more tips to this blog on how to enhance your profiles and use groups, keywords, answers, and the most significant advantage they offer over other networks: the advanced search, in future weeks. Please subscribe to our RSS Feed or twitter.com/bardic so you can find out when we post on this subject again.