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Can Your Customers Find You on LinkedIn: Getting Started With Your Profile

Linked InRecently I have met with people looking to start their own company, an attorney leaving a firm and branching out on his own and a new company bringing a new product to the market.  All of these people need to begin setting up their social media accounts for their business so they can get the word out about their company and products.

Social networks are a great way to connect with new clients. LinkedIn has over 400 million professionals looking for connections. You can use LinkedIn to build an online presence as well as a professional identity. Anyone who wants to extend their reach and connect with potential clients should be using LinkedIn to do it.

Types of Accounts

On LinkedIn, you are a person, first and foremost. When you signup, you create a free personal account and profile, which includes background and professional information relevant to your potential clients.

LinkedIn offers two types of accounts, free and paid. The main difference between the two is that the paid account does not limit the number or frequency of your actions, like the free account does. With a paid account, you can join more groups, send more messages (InMail) and introductions, view more profile information, see everyone who has viewed your profile, and check references, among other things. Most people begin with a free account and only upgrade if the need arises.  So don’t get out your credit card till you need a paid account.  Use the free one to you outgrow it.

Whether you have a free or paid account, your profile is the foundation you build on. Let’s go over the parts of a profile so that you can have your information and details ready to add to each section. It’s important to include as much information as possible.  Remember,  you want people to read your profile and want to connect with you.  You want them to like, know and trust YOU!

Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has set up each personal profile to include information that is similar to a resume. Here, you can include links, images, videos, slide shows, and more. Most of these sections can be repositioned to your liking; however, the headshot is always the first section.

  • Headshot – You’ll need a professional looking profile photo. You should stick to the professional images in order to get the best results. But don’t worry; you don’t have to spend a lot of money for this. Just get someone to take a high-resolution, high-quality headshot or torso shot.
  • Profile Headline – Look at profiles. You can see a headline area under each member’s name. In this area, write a headline that identifies and describes you. This helps others to find you, even if they don’t know you on a personal level…yet.  Don’t get too long-winded here.  Say as much as you can but do it succinctly.
  • Summary – This area should include a well-written summary of your experience, education, and knowledge. Consider using bullet points for easy readability. Use power words to grab attention and include keywords. Keep it professional. Your authority, credibility, and reputation are at stake.  Make yourself look good, but be honest.
  • Professional Experience – Here, enter in each job you’ve had, or if you’re a business owner you can create one job and put all the various things you’ve accomplished in the list. This part is important because if you worked on a specific project and you want a reference, it’s a good idea to list them separately. This allows the people you worked with to link their references to that particular project or task.
  • LinkedIn SkillsSkills & Endorsements – In this area, check off everything you have experience with including software programs and more. Your connections can then endorse anything that you’ve said you can do in order to validate your experience.  You will be surprised at the people who will come along and endorse you.  Every endorsement gives you increased credibility.
  • Education – This area is where you should include any education you’ve received. Even if you didn’t finish your course of study, include it so that you can connect with fellow alumni. If you received some type of recognition or excelled at something, include the specifics.
  • Recommendations – This area is where people can recommend you. LinkedIn provides an easy way to request recommendations from people you’ve worked with and are connected to. Send personalized, individual requests for the best results. Mass messages tend to be frowned upon by those who receive them and are less likely to take the action you’d prefer.
  • Groups – Any groups you join will show up in this section. You don’t have to do anything but join. However, try to keep the first 8 to 10 groups related to your target audience or business.
  • Add Media – You’ll notice that under Summary and some other jobs, you’ll be allowed to add a document, photo, link, video, or presentation. This is a great way to introduce yourself and help viewers get to know you.  Remember a photo speaks a thousand words.  Multiply that for video.
  • Publications – If you’ve written any books or published works, you can list and link to them in this area. This is a wonderful way to show your professionalism. Plus, you might sell a few books.

LinkedIn constantly improves the profile area. Whenever there is a change, take note of it and make use of the improved or added functionality. The more areas you complete in your LinkedIn profile, the more likely you are to make meaningful connections.  The goal of your profile is to make people like, know and trust you so they will want to connect.

Your Turn

So now it is your turn.  Time to go and start completing your profile.  Short on time? Try one or two areas every morning.  In a week or so,  you will have a completed LinkedIn profile.  The most important thing is to complete as many areas as possible and start connecting.

In our next post,  we will start looking at your business page.   See you then!