How to make the most of your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media sites for small business owners. So it’s vital to maximise the impact of your profile page if you want to make the most of the opportunities it offers. Christina Richardson has eight tips to help you pep up your LinkedIn profile.

The key to building a successful online profile is thinking from the outset about what your goals are. LinkedIn connects 187m professionals around the world, including 10 million in the UK, but it’s more than just a 21st century rolodex.

So — why are you on LinkedIn? Is it to find new business opportunities, to stay engaged with existing ones, to find new staff, so you’ll be found by clients — or all of the above?

Start by focusing on what your profile says about you and your business. Having a poorly-managed profile can do more damage than not having one at all. It screams a lack of attention to detail. So, starting from the top down, here are my top tips for helping your profile sell you and your business:

1. Put emphasis on your profile photo

LinkedIn has recently increased the size of your profile picture, making it even more important to make first impressions count. The cropped photo of you at a friend’s wedding doesn’t cut the mustard, it needs to be professional and likeable. If you don’t have a professional image then consider the benefits of arranging one - a shoot will usually cost between £300-400 for a half day.

2. Be the master of your own headline

The 120-character headline is the most valuable and highly search-optimised property on your profile, so be sure to use it to explain your brand. LinkedIn is just like any website, using keywords for search, so approach the content for your profile strategically, including keywords and phrases throughout your profile. Don’t just state your job title and company, use it to build a picture of who you are, what you do and why you are a valuable connection.

3. Be succinct in your summary

The reduced size of the information block now means that your summary section is above the fold. Keep text to between 200-250 words, in four or five short and punchy sentences that clearly set out your business objectives and relevant experience and articulate your credibility.

4. Treat contact information like a business card.

LinkedIn has collated all contact information into a single drop-down off the top information block; treat this like a virtual business card. Include links to every touchpoint where your contacts engage with you, including professional and personal websites, Twitter, email and phone numbers.

5.  Add your company page

Every business should have a company profile page on LinkedIn and it takes just seconds to create. On the top navigation bar, click on Companies and in the top right-hand corner you will see the option to Add Company. Ensure you have a company logo, bio and contact details. This section allows you to add content such as video and links, so be sure to post regularly to provide followers with insights about your company.

6. Get your ducks in a row — re-order your profile

Many entrepreneurs will have multiple business interests, and when setting up your profile these are ordered chronologically starting with the most recent first. However, if your new project isn’t your main business venture it is best to drop this down the ranking. Do this by selecting Profile, then Edit Profile from the navigation, scroll down your page and drag entire sections to reposition them in the order you want. Consider also bringing your endorsements section from the footer to a more prominent position under the summary.

7.  Recommendations are out, endorsements are in

Establishing your credibility on LinkedIn is a two-way street of giving and receiving references. Whilst writing a recommendation may take time, the more popular and effective route is to offer endorsements to connections. Endorsing others without them having to ask you demonstrates that you are engaged with their profile and is an effective way to start conversations.

8. Use Signal to monitor and engage your network

Under the News section is LinkedIn Signal, a timeline of all activity involving your network. Using Signal is an effective way to follow your clients, prospects and competitors. Remember, however, that it's important to spend just a few minutes each day keeping on the public radar by liking, sharing and commenting on your network's statuses — and, of course, don’t forget to share content yourself!

Christina Richardson is a business marketing specialist and founder of The Nurture Network

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