LinkedIn Made Simple
A Winning LinkedIn Profile
To be successful in business, you must go beyond delivering value to your existing clients. You need to continually nurture relationships with new prospects, peers and clients.
To achieve business and personal growth, you need to reach new audiences and new markets – essentially connecting with new people to start conversations.
Once this initial step has been established, you can build a rapport to understand their pain points, before offering solutions and adding value.
A winning LinkedIn profile is the starting point.
LinkedIn Profile Tips For Small Business Owners
New Way Of Working
In the days gone by, business development lay at the door of the marketing, sales or business development departments.
Attending networking events, cold calling and direct marketing were often effective, but now there is a new way of making introductions – LinkedIn!
LinkedIn offers a new way of networking for business development purposes and career progression. With over 600 million registered users worldwide, LinkedIn has the potential to open many new doors.
Tip 1 - what is a linkedin profile?
Your LinkedIn Profile
So whatever you do, never treat LinkedIn like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Making a strong first impression has never been so important. That is why your profile is the first area you should concentrate on.
This guide focuses on the key elements you need to implement.
Tip 2 - Create a profile in 8 easy steps
Profile Key Elements
Your PhotoUse a professional headshot which is in focus and presents you at your best.
Background PhotoThink of this as a virtual billboard, a quick way to highlight your skills, services or brand identity.
HeadlineThis is your online elevator pitch, so make sure it is attention-grabbing.
SummaryYou need to pack a punch with the first two lines so viewers will read more. Your summary should sell who you are and how you can help.
Articles & ActivityAn ideal area to showcase your industry knowledge by creating relevant articles.
ExperienceIn here you can demonstrate what you can do and validate the results you can achieve for potential clients or employers.
RecommendationsThis is where you establish trust and credibility by providing social proof from satisfied clients.
Tip 3 - Attract More LinkedIn Profile Views
Visible And Easy To Find Profile
To have any chance of achieving this, make sure your profile is visible on LinkedIn and on search engines such as Google or Bing. To check these settings are enabled:
- Click the Me icon at the top of your profile homepage
- Under the Account section, select Settings & Privacy
- Under the Privacy tab, select Edit your public profile
You will be shown a screen similar to below.
- Set Your profile’s public visibility to On
- Select Public then set each of the sections to Show
Setting your profile to public allows people who search on LinkedIn to view your full profile. It also allows your profile to be found on search engines.
Tip 4 - Forget the pets
Your Professional Photo
The general consensus is that you should use a professional photo which is representative of the way you dress and appear in face-to-face meetings.
I recommend you upload a well-lit head and shoulders profile photo. Ensure that it is in focus and it clearly shows your face.
Remember, this is the first time new connections will see you, so it is important to present the correct impression.
Leave the photos of your pets, kids or of you socialising for Facebook.
Here are some best practices for your photo:
- Image dimension 400 x 400 pixels
- JPG, PNG or GIF file format
- Head and shoulder shot
- Neutral or non-distracting background
- Dress in clothing which best represents your business life
- Do not include pets, children or other irrelevant props
Tip 5 - Your Own Personal Billboard
It is the largest visual element of your LinkedIn profile. Alongside your profile photo, it is generally the first thing people see when they view your profile. So it has to stand out to help attract more views.
Think about the message that you want to get across. What can you include in your background photo to inform prospects about what you do and how you can help them?
You only have a few seconds to impress, so choose your background photo carefully.
That being said - you can always update your background photo as you evolve your personal or business offerings.
Keep in mind, many users view LinkedIn profiles on both mobile and desktop devices. This means that your background photo will shrink when viewed on a mobile – so avoid using too much text.
Your profile photo also overlays on top of the background photo, so be careful not to locate text which will be hidden behind your profile photo.
More importantly, do not leave the default “plain blue” LinkedIn image, as this gives the impression that you are not active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn statistics suggest 50% of people ignore incomplete profiles, so prospective clients or employers may look past you.
Here are some best practices for your background photo:
- Don’t clutter the design - keep it simple
- Communicate one or two key messages
- Refrain from using small font sizes
- Image dimension 1,584 x 396 pixels
- JPG, PNG or GIF file format
- Test how it appears on mobile and desktop devices
Your profile headline is not any different. It is one of the first elements of your profile a reader will see. It is arguably one of the most important elements of your profile.
By default, your headline is automatically formed by extracting your current position and company name from the career history section. Unfortunately, this rarely produces a compelling headline.
It is up to you to craft an attention-grabbing headline.
Your headline is an introduction to your personal brand. It must communicate, in 120 characters, what your expertise is, how you differentiate yourself and how you can assist the reader.
Your potential prospects are likely to be interested in what you can do for them, not what your job title is or how successful you have been.
Place yourself in the shoes of a prospect, when they read your headline, what will compel them to read on.
Consider highlighting areas such as:
- What you do and who you help
- How you deliver value
- Geographical locations you service
- Proof that you will deliver on your promises
Also, keep in mind, when your profile appears in the LinkedIn post feed, your headline will be truncated.
So make sure the most important aspects are positioned within the first 70 characters.
Very few LinkedIn users take the time to optimise their headline. This means that you have an opportunity to stand head and shoulders above them.
Your headline can be the difference between someone viewing your profile or not. It is that important!
Search engine benefits
You should be using LinkedIn as a sales and business development tool or as a platform to stand out from the crowd if you are seeking a new role.
When your profile appears on search engines such as Google, it is often your headline which appears on the search result pages (as in my example below).
To boost your search rankings, include keywords that your prospects may search for in your headline, summary and other profile sections.
It is prominently located towards the top of your profile and just like a newspaper headline, you only have one or two sentences visible to entice a prospect to read on.
Remember, your goal is to attract new prospects (clients or employers). This is the place to reiterate what you do for them. It is not the place to boast about your personal achievements or to discuss your career history – you can use the experience section for that.
This is the point when you start communicating with your prospects and begin to build a virtual relationship.
It is OK to inject a bit of your personality and passion. Write in the first person and outline what motivates you so your reader can start to feel a connection and if you would be “a good fit for each other”.
Here are some ideas to help shape your summary:
- Use the first two lines to talk directly to your prospects, enticing them to click ... see more
- Summarise your expertise in one or two lines to demonstrate that you have “earned the right” to offer your services
- Explain how prospects will benefit from working with you
- Outline the type of clients and companies you help
- Write one or two paragraphs on the products or services you offer
- Highlight what is unique about your offering(s)
- Include a call to action, encourage interested readers to make contact
- Provide contact details, like those you would include on a business card
You have 2,000 characters available for your summary – make them count!
Tip 8 - How To Showcase Yourself
Many users think of the LinkedIn experience section in terms of their career history on a CV. Do not think like this. We want you to create a winning profile – so you have to focus on “solutions and results”.
Start off by including searchable keywords in your current title. This will enhance your search engine optimisation (SEO), so don't simply list your job title. There are 100 characters available for the title, so please use them.
Please keep in mind that your prospects may skip past your summary (About) section and start reading your experience first. So take the opportunity to position yourself appropriately.
Here are a few ideas to use:
- How you help peers (or clients) work together to solve issues
- How you help clients improve their business and achieve goals
- How you build friendly ongoing relationships with clients
- How you increase efficiencies and deliver results
As with your summary, you have 2,000 characters available for your current experience – I recommend that you use all of them!
For each past position which you have held, think about the successes you achieved for clients. Interweave these with your responsibilities and the services you delivered.
For these historical positions, reduce the amount of content that you include. You don’t want potential prospects spending too much time reading older details which are not as relevant as the current day services that you offer.
I also recommend that you only list years in the Start Date and End Date fields of older positions. Prospects will not be concerned about the months you were employed. You may wish to leave out the months in all your positions if you wish your profile to appear tidier.
For each of the companies, make sure you enter the company name as it is listed for the relevant company page(s). By doing this, LinkedIn will automatically pull across the company logo to your profile.
As previously mentioned, the experience section on your LinkedIn profile is not a mirror image of your CV, so leave off any part-time positions or temporary roles unless they support your current offering.
Include rich media
To further attract and engage your prospects, I recommend that you add appropriate rich media to your summary and experience sections.
Your media can consist of a host of files including PDFs, PowerPoint files, Word documents, images and links to videos, Slideshare etc. The maximum file size is 300 MB. Enhance each media item by drafting an eye-catching title and description.
Make sure your media looks professional and supports your objective - otherwise you may “turn-off” your prospect. Consider adding 3-5 items to your summary and 2-3 items to your current experience.
Tip 9 - Social Proof
LinkedIn recommendations will help establish trust and credibility for you.
To support what you list in your summary and experience sections, ask satisfied clients for recommendations. These will help boost your profile.
In your LinkedIn recommendations section, select “Ask for a recommendation”, then search for the person you wish to contact.
Write a personalised message to them, focussing on how you worked together and achieved success. They are more likely to reply with a glowing review.
Keep in mind - prospects may view the reviewers profile too, so make sure you ask credible people to provide a recommendation for you.
Tip 10 - Help improve your Visibility
Everything else in your profile should come relatively easy for you to write. After all, you have lived and breathed your experience, and you know what services you provide to clients.
Writing articles is part of a longer-term strategy to create a winning profile. However, it is still a very important element of your profile, as it is located between your About (summary) and Experience sections.
Articles can also help establish you as an industry thought leader. And, they are searchable on search engines - so you have more opportunities to be found by prospects.
When writing articles there are a few key points that you should keep in mind to get a return on your “time” investment and to help convince prospects that you are suitably experienced to help them.
Here are a few best practices for you to consider:
- Your headline is critical to attracting readers. Make it engaging, just like a newspaper headline, but keep it short.
- The quality of your article matters, which translates into length. Longer, well written articles are more likely to retain readers and be shared amongst your network. Try to aim for between 1,700 – 2,000 words.
- Use an eye-catching headline image which closely represents the topic of your article.
- Split the main body content into sections with sub-headings. Include images to help illustrate points and make the article more readable.
- Write in your own style. As you write more and more articles, you will discover your natural voice and personality. Readers will appreciate your sincerity.
- Focus on articles which will resonate with your prospects. Writing about walking your dog or completing DIY tasks is unlikely to convince a prospect to make contact.
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