Despite being a rapidly developing social network, many small business owners are intimidated or confused by LinkedIn. If you’ve heard that you should be using LinkedIn to promote your business but aren’t sure how to go about doing that, our four part series will guide you through the basics so you can leverage this resource into new relationships and new business.
Polish Your Profile
If you’re not already signed up for LinkedIn, you’ll need to register a free account to create your own personal profile. Your profile will allow you to get the word out about your services or products and provide a platform for connecting with others. It’s a snapshot of your career achievements, your business purpose and your business identity.
Creating a great profile is the first step to getting the most out of LinkedIn. Once you fill out the basics about your career, you need to pay close attention to three key areas of the profile – your photo, your professional headline and your professional summary. These are the areas that visitors to your profile will pay the most attention to and they deserve the most attention.
A Winning Profile Photo
The Internet is a visual medium and your profile photo can speak volumes. Unless you’re absolutely opposed to it, you should use your picture on your profile rather than your company logo. People like to know who they are meeting or working with. Make sure your picture is personable and friendly. Don’t take a mug shot style photo where you are staring stone-faced at the camera!
Craft a Professional Headline
Your headline appears right below your name and is like a calling card for who you are and what you do. Your headline will be four or five words and, more than anything else on your profile, it will define who you are. It will also be provide search terms for your profile. Be sure to use a title that is reflective of what you want to accomplish on the site. Most people use their title and the company that they work for, but it’s better used to define your unique selling proposition. For example “Owner at ABC Web Design” doesn’t really tell a searcher much about you or your company (besides the name). Try something like “Experienced Web Designer | Web Development | Graphics” or “Web Design Solutions for Small Business.”
Summarize Your Experience
Your LinkedIn profile has space for details on your work experience, but the professional summary is where you should summarize your skills, highlight your accomplishments and, basically, toot your own horn. Your experience should be presented in a scanable format. No huge paragraphs detailing the last 10 projects you worked on! Summarize your background experience in a few sentences. Then turn your most recent accomplishments into bullet points, using the asterisk key for a bullet and putting each point on a new line. End your summary with a brief call to action that invites the reader to connect with you.
In the next part of this series, we’ll look over how you can expand your network and connect with others.