When you go to a networking event, you’re likely going to get in front of potential prospects. You put forth the time, effort, and money to purchase entry, travel to a location, and get in front of people over the course of an hour or two, handing out and receiving business cards. You’ll make connections, and with a little follow-up, those can turn into great leads. Good networking events are full of quality contacts at the right prospect companies.
LinkedIn marketing works the same way, but with a huge advantage: with over 610 million professionals on LinkedIn, it’s the perfect place to network with exactly the right contacts at the right prospects. By leveraging the functions LinkedIn has to offer, whether free or paid, you can get in front of the right stakeholders with your message without having to spend the time or take in the empty calories of attending a face-to-face event. Just like networking events, the purpose of LinkedIn is to make valuable connections that start conversations. Some of those conversations then turn into great leads over time.
The very first priority on LinkedIn is optimizing your profile. It’s absolutely free, and crucial to getting value out of networking on LinkedIn. We’ve optimized hundreds of profiles, and have learned what really works:
Start with a recent, and high-resolution profile picture. If someone meets you in person after connecting on LinkedIn, they need to be able to recognize you. If you are in a professional position, then you should have a professional profile picture, not something that looks like a High Art project, vacation selfie, or pet portrait.
Take the time to add a visually enticing background image, like a cityscape from where you live, or depicting something you are passionate about, or working in – seriously, don’t just leave the default dull blue background. Profiles with background images get up 11X more views.
The headline is the most important text on your profile because it’s what everyone sees first, and it’s the only thing besides your name that appears in a connection request. Instead of just your current job title, add what you’re passionate about, the problems you solve or your niche. In other words, why someone would want to connect with you. Remember to consider your audience – who are you trying to attract and connect with? This has the most impact on increasing your accepted connection requests, crucial for making your efforts on LinkedIn pay off.
Take the lead you’ve created in the headline, and complete the picture with the summary. You’ll see a lot of summaries that just read like a traditional bio, but it’s a better idea to instead put depth on the problems you solve and how your experience relates.
If you’ve captured someone’s interest, they’ll then dive into your Experience, seeing your current and past positions. LinkedIn now nicely groups different positions at the same company together as long as you use the same company name each time. In the description for each position, relate the problems you solve and why someone would want to connect with you. You may need to rethink descriptions of prior positions with fresh perspective that tie to what you’re doing today.
Then, it’s a matter of maintenance: keep your recent job experience up to date, and make sure the current position and company you are with is listed first. Add relevant education, volunteerism, awards and honors, and references. More than just an online version of your resume, your profile should be a living representation of the professional you are today, designed for the audience you are trying to attract.
One last pro tip: not many people know that you can change the URL for your LinkedIn profile.
For example, instead of something like: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-bice-6c3a1a22
My custom profile URL is: www.linkedin.com/in/billbice
That looks a lot better when I send it around in an email!
It’s also easier to do than you think. Learn how to personalize your LinkedIn profile URL, so your contacts can find you.
Once you have a great profile, it’s time to take advantage of it. Next, we’re going to talk about running LinkedIn connection campaigns to build your network and grow your business. You can also learn more on our podcast episode on B2B Marketing on LinkedIn.
All the best,