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LinkedIn®.  Such a great professional networking platform.  It has a sleek appearance and there are so many great features that you can use to really flesh out your online marketing endeavors – for yourself and the business you represent.

To many users, LinkedIn is the “grownup” version of Facebook. Indeed, without an intentional strategy, the true potential of LinkedIn may be entirely untapped.


First Check: Your Personal Profile


Throughout all the plethora of options available to a LinkedIn user, the number one most important feature is your personal profile.

Without a well-built profile, your actions and interactions on this platform will have very little weight.

Make sure that your profile reflects what you want others to see you as professionally.


PROFILE PHOTO:

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The profile image on LinkedIn should not be the same one that you use on Facebook.

Ask yourself this question: If you had to put a picture of yourself on your resume, what would it look like?

Choose a classic headshot with a neutral background.

PROFESSIONAL TITLE:

The title sits just under your name.  It is 100% customizable, giving you quite a bit of room for artistic liberties. Utilize it to reflect your current position and industry.

As in everything you publish professionally, double check for spelling errors!

The description should be clear, easy to read, and well-written.

BACKGROUND PHOTO:

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Background photos are a fairly new addition to LinkedIn.  Serving as little online billboards, they enable specific branding flourishes – a logo, motto, etc.

Since header photos are such a great way to add some life to your profile, make sure to utilize them. If you own or represent a specific business, finding a great photo should be fairly simple. Choose a high-resolution photo that will add to, rather than detract from, your professional appearance.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION & LINK TO WEBSITE

Few people, maybe, know of this great option, but you can edit the contact information that is displayed to your contacts and the general public.

 

Adding the URL of your company’s website in this section is a great way to increase traffic and SEO rankings. Utilize it!

Linkedin5ATTACHMENTS

In the “Summary” and “Previous Work” sections, you have the ability to upload attachments.

Anyone can claim that they are great at something – you have a chance to prove it.

Attach links to blog posts you have written, applicable photos, files, etc.

PREVIOUS POSITIONS

If you are currently employed, your past work experience may mean very little to you now.

However, to a third person with a professional interest in your career, the amount of description and pride that you put into your previous experience sections is monumental.  It may mean the difference between perceiving you as a well-rounded individual (“Look at this great trail of accomplishments he/she has left behind!”) – or a lucky someone that just happened to land a pretty good job (“Nothing of note in his past – maybe his dad got him a job…”)

As in the previous section, make sure that you enhance your work experience with tangible examples via attachments.

SKILLS & ENDORSEMENTS

In this section you can claim skills that are relevant to your industry.  Connections are encouraged to add an “endorsement” – moving the skills from “because I said so” to “I told you so.”

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Don’t do this: When I first built my profile, I made the mistake of adding everything that I was interested in – with very little professional experience to back it up.  The unfortunate consequence: my professional skills (added later) have much fewer endorsements.


Interacting on LinkedIn

ADDING CONNECTIONS

At this point, your profile looks great. Now it’s time to extend your network. For a free account on LinkedIn, you are somewhat limited in the amount of people you can connect with.  Each person that you “add” becomes a 1st connection.  The more 1st connections you have, the more 2nd and 3rd connection (those are the “he knows someone I know!” people)

In a specific industry, building your connections is a great way to lay the foundation to build your reputation.

It can be a good idea to connect with someone you’ve briefly met in the past – a speaker at a conference you attended or an acquaintance from a business meeting.

Note: Filter out the spam

DO NOT accept the spammy connections (typically people you don’t know from foreign countries).  Accepting an unknown person into your network will signal to LinkedIn that you would like to see more of this person’s connections.  To other professionals, you will be seen as someone who simply adds a large number of connections to appear more important.

PARTICIPATING IN GROUPS

Joining and participating in groups is possibly the most important interaction on LinkedIn.  Pay attention to what the people you are connecting with are doing/posting/commenting on.

Some groups are incredibly active – everything related to industry-specific. Oftentimes people will approach a group with a problem that needs to be solved – you can offer a solid resource to answer their question.

Use your group interactions as a tool to cultivate professional connections.  There may be no immediate value, but the steady strengthening of your status and knowledge can pay off greatly in the future.

BUSINESS PAGES

Although 99% of the value of LinkedIn lies within your personal profile, a business page that represents your company is a nice feature.  It can be used to enhance a job posting for your company – or simply as a link for your employees to list on their profiles.

To create a business page, your profile email must be connected with the specific domain of a company (@companyname.com) rather than a generic @gmail/yahoo/hotmail.com.  After the page has been created, you can add other people onto it that do not have a specific domain email address.

HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I SPEND ON LINKEDIN?

How much time should you devote to LinkedIn? It depends on your business and industry.

In general, try to participate in groups a couple times a week.  Maintain a relatively active presence by spending 10-15 min every couple of days to check up on your news feed, leaving a comment or two as you see fit.  Once a month, make sure your profile is up to date and still looks good.

Adding LinkedIn to your phone can be a good way to maintain awareness of articles, contacts, etc.

PURCHA$ING A PREMIUM ACCOUNT

Dishing out a little extra money for a Premium LinkedIn account will get you additional search options to fine tune your networking abilities.  An enhanced account also enables you to connect with people who are not in your network (1st, 2nd, or 3rd connections). In a free profile, you are limited in the number of searches you can search for people – a Premium account enables you to perform more searches and send more inMail.


Best Practices

When in doubt, do the best you can – and be true to your (professional) self.

Contact Art Unlimited for help with your online presence to turn your company into a successful company.

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