Are you an entrepreneur or involved in the corporate business world? You absolutely need a LinkedIn account. Not just that, you need to have a personal brand on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is not your conventional social network. Other social media platforms were built on the idea of connecting people – family and friends – so that can be able to interact and never lose contact with each other. In this sense,LinkedIn is not a social network – or at least it is a social network with a twist. A massive one.
It is a business oriented social networking service. So, yes, LinkedIn does seek to connect people but for a different reason. This platform has been utilized by millions across the globe since its launch in 2003, to promote themselves and their businesses. And really, that is idea on which this platform was developed.
While other social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram have taken steps in recent years to optimize their products for business and professional purposes, none of them is close to LinkedIn.
This is a large platform of entrepreneurs, veterans, investors and professionals in every field of endeavor imaginable. LinkedIn boasts about 106 million active users and counting.
So if your aim with a LinkedIn account is to take selfies and post them online, you’re in the wrong place. No friends, likes or shares here; just connections and endorsements. If you really want to put yourself out there and promote your capabilities, here are a few ways you can build your personal brand on LinkedIn.
1. Choose a picture that aligns with your role
Your profile is everything recruiters and people looking for your skills need to know about you. It is your curriculum vitae and your pitch rolled into one. The more complete your profile is, the more likelihood you have of being found.
One of the main components of your profile is your picture. Using a suitable can help to increase the possibility of you being found. It helps people to put a name to the face. You can have all the experience in the world, but without a profile picture – a good one – chances are you will be overlooked.
There are key aspects of your profile that you should pay attention to: your profile picture, headline, experience and summary.
For your profile picture you should use a square picture and stay under 10MB. Your picture is your digital handshake, so choose a picture that is friendly and approachable, while still being professional.
2. Optimize your headline, experience, summary and skills
Beyond your picture, these are equally key components of your profile. Your profile picture is very important, but will ultimately achieve nothing if that is all your profile has to offer.
Your headline, by default, is your current employment position; however, you can edit it to reflect your expertise and vision for your role. It helps you describe yourself the way your friends do. Use phrases such as ‘trusted PC Expert’ or ‘reliable Safety Instructor’. Bottom line is that your headline is the first description most people see about you, so make it count!
Like in my case, I projected myself as a freelance writer, and the president of a startup business blog.
Use, your experience and summary sections to tell a little bit more about yourself – to tell your story, some will say. It doesn’t hurt to include a little information about extra-curricular activities.
Your experience section should include a tidy brief of previously held key positions. You’ll need at least three jobs listed to attain All-Star status. If you’ve had only one previous job, chances are that you’ve moved around within the company. Use this section to detail all the positions you have held.
In the summary section, you have 2000 characters to play around with so do so constructively. Write about what you do and what your company does. You are trying to make people see that you understand your sector, are credible and have a good track record.
Also do so in natural language, keep it as conversational as possible and always refer to yourself in the first person.
You need at least five skills to become a LinkedIn All-Star. If you do not have as many skills to put up, then add variants of the skill that you do have. Say your skill is ‘recruiting’, also add ‘Talent Acquisition’, ‘Executive search’ and other like phrases to your skills. This will help with SEO within LinkedIn.
3. Include a way for people to reach you and spread it across all platforms
You have adhered to all the above mentioned guidelines and people have found you as a result of it. Then they hit a dead end when they try to contact you and see no reasonable means of doing so.
Nobody wants that.
So make sure you include the primary way that people can get across to you be it via email or any other social media platform. Everyone on LinkedIn has a personalized link that leads to their profile. You should do well to put this link on all your other platforms. LinkedIn may be the go-to platform for finding certain skills, but it is not the only place that you can be found.
4. Grow your LinkedIn network
Now that your profile is impeccably optimized, what next? Grow your network. The larger, the better
The next step is to begin to connect with people and build your strategic brand association. Your LinkedIn contacts may include people you know, have met or about to meet. Start by adding the people you know. LinkedIn allows you to import your contacts from Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Windows Live and AOL.
For people you do not know, make sure that you add a personal note along with your contact request explaining why you’d like to connect with them.
And of course, connect with them. Share their posts, like their posts and wish them well.
It is wise to accept every contact request and have continuing conversations with them. On LinkedIn, people tend to feel more at ease with accepting your contact request if they see that you have a lot of contacts yourself. Besides, you never know which one of these contacts will be of assistance to you down the road.
5. Position yourself as a thought leader
The next step is to position yourself as a leader in your niche. You can do this by sharing content on LinkedIn; whether it is original to you or not. You should focus on doing both. Liking a post on LinkedIn works the same way as sharing a post on Facebook. So scour for content relevant to your industry and consistent with your brand and like away!
It is easier to come across content that is tailored to your brand when you follow and are connected to the relevant influencers in your industry.
You do not necessarily have to go overboard and like every single post that you come across on your news feed because you ‘feel’ is relevant. Just one or two a day can put you in the direct eye line of your network – which is precisely where you want to be.
To come up with your own content, you should participate in relevant groups on LinkedIn, ask and answer questions on such groups. You can also write a post. The best way to approach this is by first thinking of what people need help with. Then proffer solutions to these problems in your post and write from an original voice.
When you share and come up with posts, you are building a massive level of credibility. This is because people in your field will begin to perceive you as an authority in your industry.
6. Claim and use your Vanity URL
Every account on LinkedIn comes with a link that connects to your profile. However, by default they all look long and usually have a bunch of random numbers and letters at the end of it.
An example of a default URL reads something like this: www.linkedin.com/pub/john-doe/25h71093
Thankfully, LinkedIn allows you to change that to something short and snappy and to include it on your profile. Claim your vanity URL for preferably your firstname/lastname or vice versa.
A vanity URL looks like this: www.linkedin.com/in/johnnycampbell
You see the difference don’t you?
Check out my before and after url
With this version of your URL, you will feel more comfortable printing it on your business card and putting it on your email signature. This way you have created an opportunity for people who are not currently on LinkedIn or online at all to connect with you.