LinkedIn offers a goldmine of opportunity for business savvy professionals who want to capitalize on the benefits of high-powered social networking. A 2012 HubSpot study found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost three times higher (277%) than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%). These statistics demonstrate that LinkedIn can provide a competitive advantage and help you to escalate your business goals if used effectively. Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a better business network and increase your marketing footprint using LinkedIn.
Here are three strategies that will help you maximize the benefits of LinkedIn:
1. Build a stellar profile. Every great profile begins with a fantastic headshot. Even if you’re not in the market for a professional photographer just yet, avoid using photos that could diminish your professional credibility.
Create a compelling headline. It shares the real estate with your headshot and will encourage (or discourage) people from further examining your profile. Additionally, be sure to complete the critical components of your background such as summary, experience, certifications, skills, languages, education, and organizations. These segments provide key information for potential clients and colleagues alike, so be thorough and highlight your skills and experience in a meaningful way. You want to present the best version of yourself and stand out in a sea of highly qualified professionals. And, of course, update your profile whenever necessary to keep it fresh and relevant.
Tip: Draft your content and let it marinate a day or two. Come back and edit to streamline for wordiness, errors, and voice.
2. Add credibility. After you’ve built the basics of a stellar profile, you’ll want to explore ways to raise your visibility with stakeholders. LinkedIn provides several mechanisms for increasing your professional credibility beyond your knowledge, skills, and experience. One way is through recommendations. Ask clients, supervisors, and colleagues—people who have firsthand knowledge of your work—to share their results, opinions of your work ethic and thoughts on how working with you can benefit others. People view recommendations as further indicators of your competence and value in the marketplace, and as evidence of a happy, satisfied clientele within your network. Most people are happy to provide.
Tip: Draft the recommendation for the person you ask, and allow them to tweak. This is a time-honored tradition in the professional community which extends across industries.
Another great way to increase your credibility is to become a “LinkedIn Influencer” and share your expertise in the form of articles. Professionals are always looking for insight and strategies that can help them be more effective. This is a smart way to expand your reach and demonstrate expertise. You can also post answers to question boards and achieve the same result in shorter order.
Check out a few more great ways to increase credibility on LinkedIn here.
3. Connect with others. LinkedIn, like any other social networking site, is all about the business of connecting. Once you’ve created a stellar profile and added credibility, you’ll need to begin expanding your reach and connecting to others. Join relevant groups in your industry (you can join up to 50), and increase your connections by uploading your contact list, connecting with others following networking events, and appropriately requesting professional connections (with a formal introduction if possible) with those who pique your business interest and with whom you can create relevant synergies.
Tip: Don’t send out LinkedIn requests indiscriminately, especially to people you do not know. Your requests can be tagged as “someone they don’t know” or “blocked,” and these metrics are reported to LinkedIn. LinkedIn can then place a block on your account that will prevent you from making further (unqualified) connections.
Building a quality LinkedIn profile takes time and effort but is well worth it. If you’re a savvy business professional, take advantge of these strategies and build a better business network today!
To your success!
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.