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?