Keyword-Driven and Upscale, LInkedIn Has Now Become the Established Home on the Internet for Finding New Business-to-Business Clients… And Establishing Yourself As an Expert in your Field
If You Haven’t Moved Beyond Filling In Your Profile, However, This 40-Minute Strategy Will Substantially Boost Your Ability to Find High-Paying Clients
Virtually everyone is familiar with the Internet’s most established social network for businesspeople — LinkedIn — now with more than 100 million members worldwide (up from just 8.5 million in 2007). It’s literally the world’s largest professional network, so not only does it provide opportunities to connect with people who can help your business, it’s the ideal recruitment platform for new clients and customers.
Below, I’ve assembled a LinkedIn short-course to get you started, connected and recognized in just 40 minutes or less. Ready?
Step One: Decide How You Want to Represent Yourself and Who You Want to Attract as Clients
While this may seem basic, you’d be surprised how many people add information to their LinkedIn profile that doesn’t really serve their new business recruitment effort. For instance, if you’re now a successful executive coach or top management consultant, do we really need to know that you studied yoga or became a certified massage therapist in 1982?
Similarly, once you decide which kinds of clients and customers you want to attract, you can sift through your past experiences and work history and emphasize those talents which will attract other professionals looking for people like you.
One good example is a professional I know who has done virtually everything you can think of in the advertising, marketing, publishing, training and info-product industries. While there are so many things he could highlight from his past experience, he’s chosen to emphasize what lots of people are looking for right now:
My Friend’s LinkedIn Summary
Internet marketing specialist in education and consumer marketing. Conversion strategies, website design, blogging, social media, SEO, PPC and product launches.
My Friend’s Specialties
Conversion, Database marketing, CRM, SEO, email marketing, Internet marketing strategies.
Knowing which types of potential clients you want to connect with helps enormously in writing a profile that is keyword-driven to address what other professionals are looking for today.
Step Two: Create as Complete a Profile as Possible
Many people simply list their current company or employment, even though insights and experience from a past project or companies may actually be more appealing to potential clients.
To create an appealing profile:
Add a photo — not a company logo or picture of your pet or family. Keep in mind that this is a network of professionals who are expecting to connect with others who are equally professional. Photos other than recent headshots in business attire are off-putting. To upload a photo, click Settings, then Profile Photo.
Use keywords in your headline. The space just below your name is your headline, and it’s searched by the search engines just like all the other content in your profile. You can make yourself easier to find by Google, Bing and others by knowing which phrases consumers and prospective clients might type into the search window in order to find you. Add these keywords or phrases in your headline.
Use a “vanity” URL. Once you create your profile, LinkedIn assigns a URL for it, such as http://www.linkedin.com/pub/your-name/series-of-numbers-and-characters. This long, complicated URL makes it difficult for potential clients or connections to find you again after a past search. To increase connections, opportunities and the chances of being found, change the complicated URL to a “vanity” URL such as http://www.linkedin.com/in/your-name. Click on Edit Public Profile Settings on the right side of the screen or click Edit next to the Public Profile in your blue profile box.
Limit the clutter on your profile. Lots of connections, lots of pending invitations, connections that aren’t aligned with your professional area of interest can all clutter your LinkedIn profile, create confusion and give a visitor reason to pause. While it’s tempting to gather as many “friends” as possible, remember that this is not Facebook and you should accept only relevant invitations that make sense for your professional life and business. Your profile is your brand…make the most of it.
Step Three: Add Contacts That Align With Your Skills and Experience, In a Wide Range of Companies
Search for people in companies that you have worked with, sold to or purchased from — or had contact with in the past. This starts your tree and forms a relevant base of contacts aligning with your real-world network. Your physical network will allow you to expand your contacts exponentially.
Step Four: Ask for Recommendations and Give Recommendations
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts and ask for a recommendation. People generally will give you one, and it serves as a “testimonial” on your profile. LinkedIn recommendations add credibility to your profile. Keep in mind that you don’t need a lot. Try to get 4-5 minimum, 10-20 maximum. I tend to be skeptical when I see someone with hundreds.
Once you’ve built your profile and started seeking recommendations, it’s time to get recognized as an expert.
Step Five: Participate in LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn has fostered all kinds of groups of like-minded people in similar fields, areas of expertise or line of work. You can participate in these groups and become known amongst others in the group who could be potential clients or customers for you. Find group(s) of professionals that match your interests and/or industry, then from the group’s main page, you can share links and start discussions. It’s a great way to make new professional contacts.
Step Six: Help Out in the “Answers” Section
Not only will you be showcasing your knowledge for all to see, but it’s also likely you’ll be helping out a potential future client.
In his blog, Guy Kawasaki (author of The Art of the Start) gives 13 additional ways to use LinkedIn for professional advancement. You can read his blog post here. It’s an older post, but still great information.
While LinkedIn is not the only marketing method available to you (though it’s one that many people solely rely on), LinkedIn can bring you new connections, new recognition and new business. But just in case you need extra convincing, here are two final reasons to upgrade or start a profile at LinkedIn…
Google’s Love Affair With LinkedIn Gets Your Website Ranked Higher
LinkedIn lets search engines like Google view and rank the data in LinkedIn profiles. As part of your profile, you should always list your own website or blog (along with descriptive copy that helps the search engines find them).
Google gives LinkedIn profiles a fairly high ranking when it comes to returning search results for end users. (Hint: Be sure to set your public profile preferences to “Full View” so your website/blog shows up in the publicly viewable profile. That’s what the search engines will see.)
The Somewhat Creepy “Who’s Reading About Me” Feature
LinkedIn also lets you see who been looking at your profile. It’s kind of creepy, but it can be very useful to know what kinds of people are interested in you, whether that’s a new market niche you might pursue, and whether you are making an impact on readers of your profile.
If you’re a management consultant and you find that dozens of restaurant owners have viewed your profile, you know that something in your profile is attracting this unique niche of potential clients. However, if none of them communicate with you about your services, re-read your current profile to see whether you can add some language that will compel a restaurant owner to contact you for help.
Did You Like Today’s 40-Minute Marketing Strategy?
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Plus, I’ve added (as a bonus gift) a comprehensive Internet marketing plan designed to give you the soup-to-nuts task list and tutorials for converting your website into a marketing “path” that resolutely migrates visitors from opting-in with their email address to buying an entry-level product or service to buying even more expensive products and services later.
We’re finalizing the Internet bonus guide and individual monthly campaigns now. Stay tuned.
Until next time,