With so many more social media platforms than just LinkedIn to spread yourself thinly between, you may be asking:
Should my business be on LinkedIn?
Yes! LinkedIn is a must for business to business selling (B2B). There are 570 million users worldwide, and 23 million in the UK. Business customers (and sometimes individuals) search on LinkedIn for people and companies who can solve their problems or fulfil their needs. But you need to do LinkedIn well to get noticed and get found. Here are some tips.
Signing up/your email address
You can sign up with any address, and you can change it whenever you want.
This email address is your login name, and where your notifications will go (eg “x replied to your comment”, “y wants to connect with you”).
It doesn’t have to be the same email address that you want the public to see on your profile.
If you sign up with a business email address, remember to update your account before you leave your job or cancel that email account. Otherwise you won’t receive your notifications or the all-important “forgotten password” reset emails if you forget your login details.
Note that there’s a separate LinkedIn URL to create a company page.
Setting up your Profile
Your headline shouldn’t be your job title, but a description of what you do or how you help people/businesses. Keep it snappy yet chock full of keywordy goodness. If you do something that isn’t easily understandable, explain it in a way that is, perhaps by comparing it to something that people do get. You only have 120 characters here, though you can sneak more text in by editing from your mobile.
Your summary allows you to go into more detail, but only the first two lines are visible without clicking on ‘read more’ so make your first sentence count to entice people to click. Again, tell a story of how you help, perhaps by answering a common question or solving a common problem. Be engaging and influential rather than using a hard sell, but do include your contact details and a Call to Action (phone now, quote discount code XYZ, download free guide etc).
Your experience shouldn’t be your entire CV, just the key aspects of your work history, or for a business page, what you do. Use STAR to describe the Situation/context, the Task/issue you addressed, the Action you took to carry out the task or tackle the issue, and the Result.
Make sure your profile picture is a serious one and you’re wearing your usual business attire. It should be a headshot so you can be seen clearly in miniature. Make eye contact (look at the camera, and smile). If you really want to stand out, consider using a creative business portrait photographer, such as Silkwood Studio.
It’s free to use a background image too, so make use of the facility. Pick an image that helps tell your story (not necessarily your products). Add text to it first in an editing program if that is appropriate.
Your location should be where you want to do business, not necessarily where you are based. Put UK in the postcode box to have that appear after your town or city (so you’re clearly not in Birmingham, USA for example).
In the skills section you can add up to 50 skills. Make sure you re-order them so that the main ones you want to be found for are at the top.
Recommendations are a good way to prove your successes. LinkedIn algorithms prioritise ones from genuine connections. If you want to remind someone you exist, endorse them for something and hopefully they’ll return the favour!
Use the Projects function to add three projects/successes. Again, use STAR to describe them.
Ensure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously so you can see who’s viewed you (unless you upgrade to a paid package). Though do ensure you’re anonymous if checking out the competition.
Ensure you don’t post profile changes when you’re just making editorial tweaks to improve it so you’re not bombarding your network with trifles.
You can import your existing customers and other contacts eg email addresses from Outlook using a .csv file.
You can follow keyword hashtags. From the content posted, you may find thought leaders you can follow who will teach and inspire you. Their content may also provide opportunities for you to comment to make yourself visible. You may want to connect with peers with whom you can share knowledge. And, of course, you can target prospects.
Look for groups to join eg local ones, industry-appropriate ones. The rule for these is usually no sales pitch. They are there to help fellow members or as a discussion forum. But by being helpful or taking part in the discussion, you will get noticed. Sometimes people do post on there that they are looking for someone with a particular specialism, and that is your chance to jump in to recommend a connection, or yourself.
You can also perform searches to find appropriate people.
It’s a good idea to follow people you’re targeting, and/or comment (insightfully) on their posts, or send a connection request before making any ‘sales’ approaches.
When you do send a connection request, always include a message as to why you’re asking if you don’t already know them (from my experience, this isn’t available on your mobile device, so use your laptop/PC).
You may also want to follow (not connect with) your competition to keep up to date with what they’re doing.
Maximising Visibility and Effectiveness
LinkedIn rates you more highly for being an active user so you are more likely to appear at the top of people’s search results. You need to engage regularly.
Create your own posts. Having a blog on your website provides a good opportunity to alert people to your new, helpful, content. And you can extract soundbites from it which you can post regularly.
Post short tips to help prospective customers, or solutions to their problems.
Tips or customer experiences in the form of short (30 second) videos are very ‘in’ at the moment across all social media platforms. Make sure you upload these directly into LinkedIn, rather than providing a link to another platform such as YouTube. None of the social media tools want users to visit another platform, and “penalise” content from elsewhere with reduced display functionality.
If you need some tips on making and editing professional looking videos on your phone in just a few minutes, check out Ryan Mulhern, video expert.
Whatever type of content you’re posting, you can schedule your posts for free on Buffer or other social media management tools such as Hootsuite. I’d say time of posting is perhaps less of a factor on LinkedIn than other social media platforms. Nevertheless, if you want to post regular content but don’t want to go on to the platform every day, these tools can be help you be more efficient.
They aren’t a substitute for manual review, however. You still need to go onto LinkedIn and interact with your network.
Re-post other helpful content you encounter (whether on LinkedIn or other platforms – Google search alerts are a great way of finding content), especially where you can add your own insight.
Liking other people’s posts may get you noticed by them. But commenting on them allows you to demonstrate your own knowledge and be visible to other readers. A good tip is to tag the author’s name so they definitely see what you’ve said. If th poster gets lots of comments yours will be lost in the general notifications, but a tag means you get separately flagged to the author.
Add LinkedIn favicons to your website and mailshots to your personal and/or company LinkedIn page. Even better, add a direct “follow” button, so people can follow your LinkedIn posts with a single click.
There are various paid upgrades to suit all budgets that will allow you to create adverts for tailored audiences. LinkedIn also offers sales solutions, recruitment and learning solutions you can use.
Measure your progress by checking your social selling index at linkedin.com/sales/ssi.
Your Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. It is updated daily.
“I am not a hero. I am a mere defender of the office.”
Dwight Schrute, The Office (US), 2005
I can write, and write well, so if you need help with what to say, and how to say it, give me a shout.
If you want to know more about the mysteries of LinkedIn, there are plenty of specialists out there. I have first-hand experience of the inspiring sessions run by professional LinkedIn jouster, Nigel Cliffe, who runs insightful courses and provides consultation services.
Over to you
Do you have any tips for using LinkedIn effectively for business that you’d like to share? You’re welcome to add comments.