Head of Social
LinkedIn is a great social platform for professionals and business owners. In fact, it is by far the world’s largest professional network. This makes it an incredibly important tool for a wide range of individuals across every sector. Your personal LinkedIn profile can serve numerous purposes and it should be something that you’re both really proud of and something you’re using regularly.
LinkedIn should prove to be a lean, mean lead-generation machine if used correctly so we’ve compiled a short LinkedIn tips checklist to ensure you’re getting more out of your presence.
1. Utilise your ‘professional headline‘
By default, LinkedIn puts your headline as your position and company, i.e. ‘Managing Director at JC Social Media’. Note, however, that this space allows you up to 220 characters to write whatever you like so if you’re leaving it like that, you could be missing an opportunity. Think of your headline as more of a strapline and use it to really articulate what you do. You can still include your title and company, if necessary.
Things to avoid in your professional headline:
Being too vague – ‘entrepreneur’, ‘manager’ or ‘designer’ don’t tell people enough information.
Using jargon or ambiguous terms – examples include ‘enabler’, which could mean anything, or ‘CRO specialist’ – those who know what CRO is probably don’t need to hire one. Put things in terms that show you can communicate with people effectively, try “improving your bottom line by making your site convert its visitors” in the case of the CRO.
The overuse of symbols – symbols do have their place – they’re more eye-catching and clearer than full stops but don’t go over the top. It might suggest you’re more interested in the way things look than real substance or that you have too much time on your hands. A great compromise is the | symbol. Not too flashy and a more visual breaker than a full stop.
Over Using Capital Letters – we have a really bad culture of capitalising the start of every letter in almost anything, these days. Capitalising your position is fine as well as proper nouns, of course. But apart from these, stick to lower case letters – Social Media Expert is so wrong it hurts my eyes.
2. Create your own profile URL
Not that many people have made use of LinkedIn’s tool that lets you customise your own profile URL. Your default URL will be something unsightly like www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name/33/54/83, but with a few clicks you can transform it into something wonderful like www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name or www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name-and-title. It will look far more professional when you use your LinkedIn profile as your online CV and direct people to it from your email signature or business card.
To achieve this for your own profile, click ‘edit profile’, ‘edit public profile, ‘Customise your public profile URL’, and choose a name. Keep it simple and clear – nothing you’re going to cringe at in 18 months time.
3. Don’t be anonymous, but don’t stalk
Stalking is strictly for Facebook. On LinkedIn, you have the choice of whether someone knows you have viewed their profile or not. Some people who don’t realise you can remain anonymous are actually put off viewing people’s profiles and even using the platform altogether. In reality, letting people know you have viewed their profile is a good thing:
LinkedIn profile viewing may be overtaking imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.
People like feeling important, valued and noticed. Keeping up to date with your connections’ updates can mean that the next time you run into them you chat for longer, and build up a rapport, and get started on a great business project with them… all because you took the time to see what they were up to. It’s also the perfect way of getting on the radar of a prospect or potential collaborator – there is even software out there that automatically views people’s LinkedIn profiles from your profile, just to get your name in front of them!
To ensure that you see when people are viewing your profile, and vice versa, go to ‘Settings’, select ‘See what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’, and tick ‘Your name and headline‘.
4. Get more recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn are really powerful. Virtually everything on your profile YOU have written and created and is completely unverified. Recommendations are the one place other people can create content for your profile, making you look infinitely more legitimate.
There is no secret to getting lots of great recommendations – you have to have done something worth being recommended for and then you have to ask for them! Your recommendations can come from your current and previous roles and there’s nothing wrong with exchanging recommendations with people who you’ve worked or collaborated with.
Two quick tips for getting more recommendations:
1. Give more recommendations – people are far more likely to give you a recommendation when they see you’ve given them before.
2. Pre-write them for busy people – if you’re trying to get a recommendation from someone really busy (often the case!) think about the work you did for them and what you’d like them to say. Write a couple of (non-gushing) lines that they can’t really argue with and send it to them with a link to your profile. Since you’ve gone through the hard work for them, they’re much more likely to actually go ahead and do it.
5. Choose a small number of key endorsements
Undoubtedly, endorsements look great. However, if recommendations and the pounds; endorsements are the pence! They’re very easy to give and LinkedIn frequently prompts you to endorse your connections. Is the fact someone has 25 endorsements for strategy rather than 50 going to stop you working with them? No.
Where most people go wrong:
Adding every single skill they could possibly be endorsed for, even variations on the same thing!
This is an issue for three reasons:
You look like a Jack of all trades
You’re diluting your endorsements across 20+ skills
It’s unnecessary to have endorsements for ‘strategy’ and ‘business strategy’ and ‘strategy creation’
If you’re just starting out, start with five core skills you’d like endorsements for and ensure they don’t overlap too much. If you already have a strong base of endorsements, choose up to 10 skills and only add new ones once you have 99+ of some of your core ones!
6. Your past positions count
If your current position involves getting companies to hire you for your skills in creative marketing and PR, make sure that you demonstrate that you used related skills in your previous roles. This is about gaining credibility and demonstrating your transferable experience. Whether it’s anything from helping businesses save money, coaching or training individuals, or providing a customer service function; bring out those skills you have used in your previous role that mean you do your current role well.
It’s the attention to detail here that counts, and it builds up a picture of you as a professional in your chosen field. It also shows you’re committed to those goals and your current role isn’t just the flavour of the month!
LinkedIn profile optimisation Q&A
Is LinkedIn Premium worthwhile?
There were a number of questions all relating to LinkedIn Premium, but we’ve wrapped them up into one question here. The simple answer is unfortunately not that simple. The LinkedIn Premium packages (and there are a number of different packages available) are great for some people looking to use LinkedIn in a specific way, but it is by no means essential for everyone.
LinkedIn does like to sometimes imply that certain features are not available to free users, but this is often not the case. For example, with the free version, you are perfectly able to search for users outside your immediate network, filter them down and reach out to connect with them. However, if you don’t have Premium then you will have restrictions on the number of searches you have each month and the number of filters available to you.
My advice is to get familiar with the free version first. Use it to its limits, and then give the 30-day free Premium trial a go. If in that 30 days you find yourself doing a lot more, and getting a lot more out of it, then maybe Premium is for you. If not, then the free version should serve you just fine!
How do I position myself if I own multiple businesses?
LinkedIn, of course, allows you to list multiple current jobs in your experience section, however, this doesn’t change the fact that your headline is still limited to 160 characters. So what do you say? Do you just pick one business to focus on, or do you want to try and cram them all in?
The answer depends on you and what you want to use LinkedIn for. If you’re looking to use the platform as a lead generation tool for one particular business, then focus the headline on that. Or, if you’re looking to generally network and build your presence in a community, then present yourself as an entrepreneur, and mention briefly the sectors you’re involved in.
Don’t forget, you can change your headline as often as you like, just make sure it stays relevant to what you’re trying to achieve.
What strategies can you recommend for attracting new customers?
As with every other part of your business, the strategy that you employ here has to be unique to you, your audience, and what you’re offering. Some businesses very successfully gain customers simply by posting about what they’re up to – their existing network engages and shares this content, and that brings in new business. Others will go for a more direct approach, using lead generation techniques to seek out and directly engage with prospects.
Whatever you choose to do, it should be consistent with your business style and approach elsewhere. Play to your personal strengths, and you’ll start building up a network of genuine value.
How do you position yourself if you’re unemployed?
If you’re currently between jobs or looking for something new, LinkedIn can still be a valuable asset. Fundamentally, seeking a new job is no different to seeking new business or clients, and the approaches that you take for the latter can generally be used to help with the former.
Amend your headline so that it clearly states that you’re seeking opportunities, but be specific with the kind of role or industry you’re looking for. Continue to post content that highlights your expertise, and (if you’re comfortable to do so) be direct in your approaches and intent.
What does ‘post views’ actually mean?
Underneath your posts, you’ll see a statistic – the number of post views you have for that piece of content. This number is often significantly higher than the number of likes or comments your post has, and for good reason.
A post view is counted when your post loads up on someone’s screen. Therefore, if someone is scrolling through their news feed, and your post appears, that will count as a post view – regardless of whether or not they read or engaged with the post.
It also doesn’t count unique views. Therefore, if the same user came back to LinkedIn an hour later, and saw your post again, it would count as a second view, even though it’s the same person.
Post views are a great indicator of how far your content is spreading, but don’t get too hung up about the specific number – keep an eye out instead for the general trends.
How useful are hashtags on LinkedIn?
One of our most frequently asked questions is about hashtags on LinkedIn, and how useful they are.
Just like with other platforms, hashtags on LinkedIn are a useful way to filter and label content. Hashtags can be followed, just like pages or profiles, meaning that any content that contains that tag can appear in your news feed. There are still a lot of people suspicious about how popular hashtags are, but as an example, #socialmedia is followed by over 19.7 million people.
Hashtags are also useful for LinkedIn’s own algorithm – the tags help LinkedIn to identify what your content is about, and show it to the most relevant people in your network. Therefore, it’s worth giving them a go and including one or two in your post. Try to avoid using too many though, as this does tend to irritate other users and reduce engagement.
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