Certainly, LinkedIn is a great way to find employee candidates. But the question remains, as an entrepreneur, how does LinkedIn benefit YOU?
Why use LinkedIn as an Entrepreneur?
LinkedIn is not just a resume site. It provides important opportunities for meeting business collaborators and joint ventures. It is a place where you can find suppliers, editors and so on.
The best part about LinkedIn is that it is a safe place to start because this social media platform has mastered the work/life balance we all strive to achieve. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Google+, LinkedIn doesn't blur the lines between your personal information and your professional image.
Additionally, LinkedIn has created an extensive profile for you to complete.
Okay sure, this can feel annoying; however it is ultimately a fantastic tool for an emerging entrepreneur or business.
Because in completing all of the profile questions you clearly demonstrate where you've been, what you're good at, and how you are now. Marketing 101 – you need to be able to answer all three questions with ease. LinkedIn provides you the space to get clear on your strengths and your mission.
So, how do you use LinkedIn to its Full Potential?
1. Improve your connections by creating a complete and compelling profile.
It will be harder for others to find you on LinkedIn without a complete profile
For your profile you will need to:
Add a headshot
Remember, LinkedIn is more professionally focused than Facebook, so a picture of you at your family's summer barbeque is not appropriate for LinkedIn. Use a clear, professional headshot. I would also avoid avatars or business logos as it gives off the impression that you are hiding.
Current position summary
Consider this your 30second elevator pitch. You want it to be clear and memorable. Check out the profiles of other Entrepreneurs that you admire for ideas and inspiration.
Also, read it out loud to a longtime client or customer to see if they would agree with what's written or if they would change anything. Often your client's and customers can better describe what you do.
Don’t forget to include keyword phrases here.
Share your past work experiences
Share only those that relate to your current business. While it's fun to go down memory lane, the summer you spent scooping ice cream at the local dairy stand is not pertinent information. Instead, write a blog post on how your experience scooping ice cream started your dream of becoming a business owner one day.
Show off your education
People love to connect with their alma mater on LinkedIn. It is a great way to bond with a potential joint venture partner or future client. Also, don't be afraid to share fun details like the clubs you were a part of or the volunteer work you did then.
Provide links to your Website(s) and Facebook Fan Page
You can supply up to 3 website links in your profile. You may need all three for websites; however, you may also choose to include a link to your Facebook fan page.
Provide your Twitter username
LinkedIn provides a special space for your twitter Username and URL: take advantage of it.
Claim your unique LinkedIn URL
To increase the professional results that appear on Google when someone does an online search for you, set your LinkedIn profile to “public” and claim a unique URL for your profile. For example: http://linkedIn.com/in/YOURNAME
This also makes it easier to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature or on a business card.
Collect at least 5 Recommendations
Great testimonials are still (and will always be) the key to the kingdom! Prospects are more likely to buy from someone that comes recommended than someone that does not. In fact, people will even go out of their way to work with someone who comes recommended simply because of the endorsement.
You need at least 3 recommendations to complete your LinkedIn profile. Try to build a diverse range of recommendations, from clients and customers to joint venture partners and other industry experts. And, by all means…don't stop at 3!
Send out friend requests
When you visit LinkedIn to update your status, continue to send out friend requests. LinkedIn has a feature that shows you how closely connected you are to another person. For example, a close friend of yours will have the number “1” in the top right hand corner while a person you know through a friend of a friend may have a “2” or “3” next to their name.
The more people you are connected with the more prospects you can get in front of.
Joining groups and displaying the group badge on your profile is a great way to show that you care about interacting. It is also another great way to connect with JV's and prospects.
2. Create a Business Profile!
To do this, you will need to login and then click on the “companies” tab. In the top right hand corner you will see a link titled “Add a company”, click on that link.
Then, fill in your company name and the company email address. At the end of the page, verify that you’re the official representative of the company you are creating.
From there you can customize your company information and include other details such as logo, company description, specialties, type of the company, year established, industry, Twitter account and your blog among others.
Once you are done, you can start adding products and services. Click the button for “Add a Product or Service” and start entering the required information.
Lastly, you can create your homepage for your products and services. One of the advantages of creating a business page is that you have the opportunity to make various versions of your landing page so you can custom tailor according to your specific audiences.
Have you visited your LinkedIn profile recently? Is it up to date, compelling and complete?
What about a business profile? Do you have your blog feed attached? Have you added your products and services?