LinkedIn was first introduced 14 years ago as a platform for job-searching capabilities. Since then it has rapidly grown into a significant social network for professionals which provides a valuable opportunity for brands to connect with consumers.
Just between 2011 - 2017, LinkedIn's user base grew from 140 million to 500 million users. As of 2019, LinkedIn has over 645 million users worldwide. Evidently, companies and individuals should be harnessing the power of LinkedIn, as it provides an unparalleled chance to promote themselves to a powerful network of professionals.
Very few people have managed to do this successfully, even though there are easy steps anyone can take towards improving their ability to increase sales through their LinkedIn network.
Maximise your profile
The starting point lies in maximising your personal profile, as this is the first thing a client or associate sees about you on LinkedIn. You need to ensure you stand out in order to make a good impression and appear credible.
A professional headshot is imperative for your profile picture. LinkedIn is filled with 'spam' accounts, so putting a face to an account adds credibility. In addition, when used with professional activities, a photo represents your brand and personal logo.
A good headline should help explain 'this is what I do, and this is who I do it for'. Ideally it should be approximately 120 characters long and contain around three industry keywords. Like Google, LinkedIn has a specific algorithm for the search engine, and this makes SEO and keywords extremely important. William Arruda, an expert on personal branding, suggests that
headlines should use this proven formula:
Job Title / Company + Keywords + Zing
He describes 'zing' as a 'special sauce', or a component that makes someone interesting and makes others want to get to know them.
This is arguably one of the most important sections as it's an easy way to set yourself apart from the other half a billion users worldwide. In addition, when a recruiter clicks on your profile, your summary is one of the first things they read, because LinkedIn shows the first 300 words of your summary.
Your summary is an easy way of adding a bit of personality into your profile, enabling you to let associates and clients see who you are and what you really care about. Furthermore, your summary is used for LinkedIn's search results, so when people search for you, summary content plays a role in the results. Although not as powerful as the headline, keywords should be strategically placed within the summary to strengthen your searchability. Your summary or 'about' section should always be written in first person and state who you are, what you do and how you can help.
Towards the bottom of a LinkedIn profile page we are introduced to the 'skills and endorsements' section. This presents a good opportunity for recruiters and clients to recognise your expertise within a specific field. To help maximise your profile, 15 - 20 key skills should be listed, with your top three appearing first.
Endorsements are a highly debated area on LinkedIn. Research by Avid Careerist found that you will rank more highly in LinkedIn search results if you have a greater number of endorsements for the skills the recruiter is seeking. However, many people argue the opposite, claiming that
endorsements are futile because anyone can give them out and receive them.
In summary, this shows that LinkedIn acts as an invaluable online resource to help build your profile and grow a network around your key skills and experience. In order to get the most out of it, it is imperative to to regularly update your profile and job information, enabling you to present the best profile to prospective clients and colleagues.