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Recently LinkedIn has undergone some dramatic changes that have transformed it from a business contacts site into a viable networking and promotion tool.
The site now gives you direct access not only to your customer base, but also to fellow professionals, meaning LinkedIn has forum capabilities sorely lacking from sites like Facebook.
LinkedIn’s profiles are directly aimed at the business market, they are likely to be open and honest, giving you great information on your allies (and occasionally rivals) in a complicated marketplace.
If you’re setting up a business empire then you need to be in touch with the movers and shakers out there and LinkedIn is a great way to do it. Despite this, a huge number of new users still primarily use it as a job search and employment site.To make sure you get the jump on your competitors by avoiding the mistakes they are making and properly utilising the site, here are ten quick tips to get your profile ahead of the pack:
Don't rely on default settings
Every second profile I come across on LinkedIn has the same problem: settings left at default. With the URL it’s a fixable problem but with My Company it’s a nuisance.
If you haven’t taken time to enter your current business or employer name in this field do it right now (Click websites, then ‘other’ in the options to fill this out), otherwise people have to scroll back up to see who you are and what you’re pushing, then scroll back to click it.
Remember the old maxim: if content is not reachable in 3 clicks then people won’t bother.
Above all else, eliminate extra effort for people trying to find you.
Set your URL.
Make sure you take the time to change your URL.
Much like Facebook’s much publicised move in 2008, you can set a personalised URL in LinkedIn, so make sure you exploit the branding and marketing potential this offers.
Head up to the Edit Public Settings button at the top of your profile and change the Public Profile URL to your personal or business name.
Complete your profile.
You may have a face more suitable for radio, but that doesn’t mean you can afford not to have a clear, businesslike photograph on your profile
Likewise, don’t be tempted to cover up with a logo or a gravitar. LinkedIn is about people, so brush yourself off and smile. Recognition and personality is key in generating new business.
Also, make sure you’ve really thought about that job description keyline. Nobody is typing ‘CEO’ into their search boxes, so think about your job title and how it relates directly to the service you provide.
‘Copywriter’ will work, ‘Internet Guru’ won’t.
Keep your friends close..and their friends closer
You can currently join up to 50 groups on Linked in. Quite a few right?
And how many people are there in the larger groups? And perhaps more importantly, what do they do?
The average Google employee has about 50 -100 connections on LinkedIn but a group may hold hundreds, even thousands of talented people interested in what you are doing, all of whom you haven’t contacted previously.
Not joining up is a massive failure in your networking plan, so get out there and share. Even if you can’t keep an eye on all the groups you’ve joined your name will still be out there.
It’s called social media for a reason. Google offers live and social searches, so make sure you’re profile stands out and is counted.
LinkedIn is great for this because you can offer specific business information, and not worry about it being watered down or undermined by pictures of you feeding a dog cider at last year’s Christmas party.
Don’t set your profile to private, but DO take care what you put on it. If it isn’t public then you may as well not bother in the first place.
Too Much Twitter
The easy option when linking Twitter is to set it to automatic and let it run itself. The smart way however, is to take five minutes a day and update manually.
Post relevant tweets and links. Your customers don’t want to know that you’re meeting Steve for a pint later, they want to know “Ten great ways to find the perfect mangle.”
Whatever you’re selling, keep it relevant if you want to drum up extra business.
All your tweets go on Twitter, things worth talking about and promoting go on LinkedIn. In essence you should strive for a balance, don’t put out too much noise.
Instead let people know what you are involved in, your interests or projects you’re helping on, not your laundry list.
Again, LinkedIn is all about business, so having a separate page clearly detailing yours is just common sense.
The added bonus? You’re automatically tied into your employees' networks, giving you broader influence and opening up new marketing opportunities.
Initially businesses may have been concerned about receiving bad word of mouth from ex-employees because of this, but given the reach social media has these days then any negativity will find its way out, so you really can’t afford to miss out on the positive side of a full business site because of any hesitation you might have about this.
And hey, you aren’t the kind of business that treats people badly anyway are you?
Only 100,000 links on the clock, honest mate…
Don’t be a salesman. Yes, the bottom line is you’re here to promote your site and your business, but don’t go at it like a market trader.
LinkedIn is not the place for your sales pitch. If you do, you’ll end up looking like a spammer.
Send out thanks for connecting notices, but don’t add a salesline. It’s crass and off-putting especially when the people connecting to you are already taking an interest in who you are and what you do.
Don’t go for the heavy sell.
Again, social media is about connecting, and while it’s great that people have a list of your stats on hand, talking to them is the best way to make sure they remember you and your business.
Take part in relevant discussions whenever you can.
In addition to great opportunities to promote yourself, you’ll end up with valuable information and the people you are questioning will remember your name.
Get talking as often as possible. Getting feedback is free and sharing your own viewpoints and expertise will help you build an industry reputation.
Even if you’re a relative nobody, you can still tell Bill Gates on how your product will unblock his sink.
Are you listening to this?
Not responding. If someone comments, get back to them in a timely fashion.
You wouldn’t ignore emails at work, so don’t forget to comment on comments.
Exactly as you would with a blog, if someone is checking your profile out and questioning or suggesting something then get involved and create a dialogue with them.
Let them know you’re listening by responding to or making recommendations, although be sure not to dole out opinions too readily or you’ll end up seeming overly self-satisfied.
It’s fine to give the odd recommendation to join a group, and hopefully your connections will be savvy enough to offer them back so that you both benefit. It’s not a direct approach but it’s a friendlier one that will work better if you’re playing the long game (as any good business should be).
Follow these simple steps and you'll have a straightforward and useful LinkedIn profile that will help you connect with the most valuable people in your industry quickly and easily.