The New LinkedIn For Business: How To Define Your Brand

The New LinkedIn For Business: How To Define Your Brand
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LinkedIn is growing in membership, and has added both cosmetic changes like larger photos and new features such as Endorsements, dubbed by Forbes magazine “the Stove Top Stuffing of recommendations.”

Many businesses use its powerful tools to build professional networks and market themselves. So can you, with less time than you think.

To repeat a metaphor, tend your LinkedIn pages like a gardener, feeding and pruning your networks and attending to where the best growth is occurring to maximize your efforts.

Here I focus on making your profile and business pages stronger and more visible to search engines so you’ll be found. But this is only half of it.

Even if your profile is a beautiful and wondrous thing, if you don’t actively use the features provided to reach out to others, you’re missing out on the networking that defines LinkedIn.

Networking is a two-way street, so in a follow up post I’ll stress how you can use LinkedIn’s expanded features to increase your influence. Unfortunately, “Reading List by Amazon” and “Events” are gone, but many ways to promote yourself still exist.

A common mistake on LinkedIn is to throw something up haphazardly just to have a presence, and wait for people to come to you. If you don’t want anybody to find you other than people who already know you, you can stop reading here. Otherwise, here are ways that you can be found.

Becoming Visible To Search Engines

For basics about constructing “a killer profile,” check out Cindy Rack’s article.

Your pages, especially your profile page’s headline, should be optimized for search. Use keywords that the whole world isn’t posting, but people are searching for.

For example, “Linkedin For Business” (in the title of this post) is a keyword phrase that isn’t used a great deal, yet has many Google searches.

Make sure that everything you want visible is checked on your customize page. You can make sections of your profile visible to everyone or just your connections.

Your business also needs a company page with your logo and branding. Describe what your company does, briefly. In the specialty section, keyword optimize so you can be found by people looking for your services or products.

You want others to follow your company. Link to your corporate blog’s RSS feed, if you have one. Link back to your website and blog.

Your profile and business pages should be dynamic. Update them regularly, as you do with your website.

Post status updates on a regular basis on both pages with company news, and links to your own blog posts and relevant news articles about your industry.

Refining Your Personal Brand

Input your keywords in the Advanced People Search and see who else comes up. That’s your competition. What makes you unique? Don’t strip out any individuality from your profile. It should sound like you–not someone who never met you–wrote it.

Excessive jargon will make you seem inaccessible, but speak the language of your industry. (remember: keywords, keywords, keywords)

The new, expanded picture frame at the top means you’ll probably need a better quality shot. Ditch that blurry one that shows only half your face. I’m surprised how many pictures on LinkedIn show someone doing some hobby or looking as if they’re on vacation, which belongs on Facebook, not on a professional networking site.

Please proofread. A sloppy profile or incomplete is worse than none at all. I’ve seen sentences that trail off into nothing and other errors on profiles. You wouldn’t turn in a unfinished report, so don’t embarrass yourself this way.

Endorsements Help Paint the Whole Picture

I admit, when I first saw those teensy thumbnails next to my skills that are so small you can’t even make out who they are, I wondered what they were smoking at LinkedIn when they thought of that.

But I’ve changed my mind.

The company says one reason for Endorsements is to allow busy people to give a thumbs-up without the time and effort of writing a Recommendation. I’ve noticed that for the time I’d spend writing one recommendation, I can endorse the skills of multiple connections, using the box appearing at the top of my profile when I open it. Yet, how meaningful can such a quick hit be?

When I considered it statistically, however, it seemed to provide a rough, quantitative snapshot of skills, or at least positioning. It’s imperfect, but paired with the flawed anecdotal Recommendations that suffer qualitative shortcomings, it has a kind of logic.

It’s like the “wisdom of the crowd,” illuminating if you want to understand the big picture of who somebody is.

Sometimes Stove Top Stuffing is good enough!

Because some impressions may end there, make sure your endorsements coincide with your own desired positioning in the marketplace.

If you are being frequently endorsed for a skill that you aren’t trying to market, don’t hesitate to use the Manage Endorsements tab, under Edit Profile, to hide either the skill itself or the endorsements you don’t want.

Next time I’ll explain how to find people, businesses and leads on LinkedIn, using Groups, People Search, Signals, and Answers. Your comments and questions are welcome. What do you like or dislike about the new LinkedIn?

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Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli

Linda Rastelli is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter, publicist and co-author of "Marketing: Essential techniques and strategies geared toward results" (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). She enjoys helping businesses sharpen and communicate their marketing messages and the challenge of making complex or technical ideas accessible. Journalism taught her to ask the right questions and to get to the point, scriptwriting taught her to think visually, and writing books taught her patience (but not quickly enough).
Linda Rastelli
  • Donna Merrill

    Thank you Linda!
    I must admit, I have been not so active on Linked In. I used to call it my “secret weapon” and it still is, but reading this article has given me the incentive to get back on that platform.
    More and more people are using it and I know that, but I need to refresh my branding, and do some work on it. It has become one of those things that I tell myself “I’ll do it tomorrow” and that is procrastination. Something I don’t like within myself.
    Thanks so much for giving me that little push I needed.
    Donna Merrill

    • Linda

      Glad to help, Donna. Let me know if there’s anything I can add for next time.

  • http://twitter.com/robgoss RobGoss

    Hello Linda,this is my first visit here on your blog, I use LinkedIn and it;s great to make some great connections, I know it for more business and professorial to share they backgrounds and work but it’s also a great way to drive more traffic to your websites,

    I have come across some very interesting people that use LinkedIn and for the most part I enjoy their friendship.

    Thank you so much for a great article I hope you have a wonderful day my friend…

  • http://twitter.com/SylvianeNuccio Sylviane Nuccio

    Great article Linda.

    I haven’t really take too much interested in Linkedin until now, but this article is motivating me and I should read the article that your linking in here too.

    Carol, I always wanted to tell you that when I try to tweet a blue link it tells me that I have too many character. So I took of the “via” and a coma. Just in case you’re not aware of this.

    • linda rastelli

      Thanks, Sylviane, I hope it motivates you to use this growing platform. Just writing about it has motivated me to make several changes.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      I know, it seems to count all the characters in the url too which is weird because it shouldn’t matter. Maybe I need another plugin!

  • Hale

    Great Post Linda. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
    You might be interested in this post on Ranking in LinkedIn’s Search Engine
    Thanks again
    Dr. Hale

    • Linda

      Yes, thank you for elaborating on the steps. If anyone doesn’t know where to find the features I mentioned, this video has screen shots.

  • linda rastelli

    Hey,
    You’re right, and LinkedIn is great for driving not just traffic in general, but the right kind of traffic to your sites.Let me know if I can clarify anything or add anything useful for you.
    Hoping to see you here again.

  • Vicki Gaddy

    Great points, Linda, for both individuals and businesses. LinkIn is so powerful and offers so many interesting opportunities for us to perfect our brand image…..I appreciate learning more about the secrets of this tool from pros like you! Thx!

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Plus LinkedIn has gone through a bunch of changes lately which means we all have to keep up! I know I should be using this tool more… now I have some incentive!

  • http://twitter.com/BarbaraCharles Barbara Charles

    HI Linda. LinkedIn is such a great tool to use and it is highly under utilized. You have hopefully brought LinkedIn into the forefront of others mind and provide them with great opportunities. Thanks for the information.
    Barbara

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      I’m guilty of under utilizing it, Barbara. Good thing I have Linda to crack the whip :)

      • linda rastelli

        Yikes, Carol Lynn, I prefer to think of it as “offering suggestions for your consideration!”

  • http://suejprice.com Sue Price

    Hi Linda
    Thanks for this great article. I keep promising myself to learn more about LinkedIn and you have now inspired me to do that.

    I have not used it much in the past and am guilty of just throwing something up there.

    Thanks again.

    Sue

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Wow, that seems to be going around. I bet a lot of people look at LinkedIn as some corporate professional network but it’s got some great stuff for any type of business. Good luck checking it out, I’ll meet you there!

  • http://twitter.com/creativeoncall Chuck Kent

    Good post, but have to disagree on endorsements. People want a reliable portrait of what people can do professionally, and endorsements are stick-figures at best, misleading at worst (a problem exacerbated by the incessant popping up of the “endorse them” window, making contacts feel almost obligated to endorse for skills they have no personal experience of)

    • linda rastelli

      You raise a good point, which is how do you decide which endorsements to give. If you don’t know the person (which means you are connecting with people you know nothing about, which is another question for another post) I think you should refrain from endorsing. When endorsing, you can typically only consider the person’s general knowledge because it’s unlikely you have worked that closely with all of your connections, right? So it is only a superficial piece of data, as I say, that must be combined with other more qualitative data, to be useful. I agree it’s not completely valid by itself as a measurement of a person’s skill level, but it does tell you what they have experience in. Thanks for your comment.

  • Adrienne

    Good post Linda and an area I haven’t spent much time in I admit. I’ve seen some of the changes over on LinkedIn but I just don’t use that site like a lot of people. I don’t have as many contacts as the other social sites because it’s not a big winner for me.

    I like some of the changes they’ve made though and I like how they are doing the recommendations now. So much easier then before.

    Thanks for this heads up on the changes to it. I just haven’t taken the time to read more about them so I appreciate this.

    ~Adrienne

    • linda

      LinkedIn is not for everybody, I agree. It is growing exponentially, however, and if you’re looking to network with other professionals and keep tabs on other businesses, it’s invaluable.
      More on this next time.

  • http://twitter.com/PaulineBennett2 Pauline Bennett

    Hi Linda
    I’m afraid I am like many others and have not spent much time at LinkedIn, I signed up and set up my account ages ago but have not done much, I know I should make the effort as it is a good site.
    I see they have made a few changes recently so I really do need to head on over and stay a while :)
    Thanks for the reminder!
    Pauline

    • linda rastelli

      Of course, it depends on what your goals are, Pauline. I would think about what you are seeking, professionally speaking, and decide whether it makes sense for you to put in the time. There are still many more people on Facebook. But I do think if you have a profile up, you should try to make it shine. I appreciate your comment.

  • http://www.liza-shaw.com/ Liza Shaw

    Thanks, LinkdIn confuses me, so all help is great help

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Good luck with it Liza, I hope you have some new ideas for using it now!