Are you missing out on leads and business prospects because your LinkedIn branding is stale and uninspiring?
LinkedIn is used by more business professionals than almost any other network and has become a top channel for marketers to find new prospects, employees to find new jobs, and researchers to take the pulse of an industry.
At 470 million users, you’re facing an uphill battle when it comes to creating a profile that stands out so people are willing to connect with you and so you open new doors to grow your business.
But, that’s exactly why you’re here. We’ve dug through the research and practical work to figure out what works and share it with you.
So, here are 8 of the biggest things you can do to simply, easily, and effectively boost your LinkedIn brand for more successful connections.
Why LinkedIn Branding Matters
Before diving in, it’s important to take a moment and realize that your personal branding on LinkedIn has a lot to do with your reputation and how much you’re trusted.
In the old sales days, you built your reputation in your territory with face-to-face interactions, phone call follow-ups, and a note asking how the kids were doing or a card saying, “Happy Birthday!”
Today it takes different work to stand out, and most of are working on a nearly global market, so people tend to first meet you online. And, they often meet you before you ever interact.
So, your LinkedIn profile is a way you’re going to make a first impression — and we all know those count.
Even if you’re reaching out through InMail and messaging to cold and warm prospects, they’re more likely than not going to look at your profile before responding to your note. If your profile is flat, blank, or overly dull, that prospect’s door is never going to answer.
A smart LinkedIn profile is the best way to wedge your foot in the digital door and start up a conversation with your next lead.
Now, let’s get to improving that profile of yours.
1. Don’t Skimp On The Visuals
There are two main visuals on your LinkedIn page that will set it apart from others: your headshot and your profile’s backdrop.
Your headshot is present everywhere you go, from search results and posts to group lists and even how you appear on other people’s profiles. For marketers, remember this also shows up when you message someone.
LinkedIn says you’re 21-times more likely to be viewed if you have a LinkedIn photo. Here’s a quick little visual aid to understand why:
There are a few elements of the profile photo that seem intuitive — we all know a bad headshot when we see one.
Your goal is to come off as competent, likable, and influential. That tends to mean a bright photo where you’re the main focus and it is easy to see your face. Smiling is good, but not necessary, and you need your best duds.
If you’re stuck in this somewhat subjective process, it’s a worthwhile investment to hire a professional photographer to get a great shot.
Struggling to know which of your best shots to use? Try signing up for photofeeler, a community project where you vote on people’s LinkedIn photo options, and then they’ll vote on yours, helping you pick the one that’s best.
Your profile’s backdrop is less stringent and has fewer requirements to be successful. The best thing to do is to make sure it is a landscape photo so it isn’t resized oddly or made to look out of focus. Keep it relevant to your industry and company.
And, if you’ve got the space, it makes a perfect place to put a company logo, slogan, or your #1 promise.
2. Avoid Boring, Unimpressive Headlines
It’s great that you’re a project manager at BigNewThings Inc, but it shouldn’t be the focal point of your headline because it doesn’t mean much to a lead who has never heard of your company.
The headline is a place for you to immediately share what you can do for the prospect who is looking at your profile. (Hint: they can see your job title just by glancing down, so don’t waste the space by repeating information.)
Tell your prospect what you can do for them and why you’re different. You can also incorporate keywords in your headline.
There is some debate over keyword usage, so we actually recommend you include a description or keyword of your target market, as opposed to the best descriptor of your business.
3. Show Us What You Can Do
It turns out those LinkedIn pop-ups about endorsing the skills of connections are a pretty big deal.
LinkedIn says that users who put at least 5 skills receive roughly 31 times more messages and are viewed 17 more times than people who don’t have such endorsements.
For your prospects, it is an easy way to signal to them that you understand their industry and their need. You have a quick, visual option to say: “I get your problems, I can solve them, and other people agree.”
And hey, look what pops up when you recommend someone — yeah, it’s that profile photo again, and it looks so much better to have a real photo than that default silhouette.
The latest LinkedIn update has made these even more important because it adds some qualifiers around the people who endorse you, including skill levels and connection.
4. Have Other People Tell Us What You Can Do
Building on the endorsements is another extremely valuable piece of real estate: The Recommendation.
This lets other people speak highly of you and gives the impression of an unbiased opinion because know we wouldn’t begrudgingly recommend someone we didn’t like to work with — there’s no upside to it.
Nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. You’ve done this when you check out the Amazon reviews before you try something new.
LinkedIn recommendations are essentially the Amazon reviews of your business acumen, so start asking for them right away.
Statistically, the best time to ask for a recommendation is about 6 to 10 business days after the completion of a project.
5. Turn Your Slide Deck Into A Visual Sales Journey
LinkedIn’s purchase of SlideShare means you now have a completely integrated platform to upload your best presentation deck to share with others.
As an added benefit, search engines like Google are pulling information from these decks and returning them often on the first page of results because they’re targeted, timely, and are seen as coming from an authority site.
Your existing work can become a smart tool that shows you know your stuff and are doing well enough to present on important topics, data, and more. This section won’t necessarily get a lot of clicks, but having it on your profile gives you an immediate credence and credibility boost when people see it.
6. Publish On LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s Publisher blog platform is open to just about anyone and it is the best place to showcase yourself and your company as a thought leader. Your posts are shown on your profile, and a quick scan also shows if people are engaging with them.
The more you post, the more likely you are to drive higher engagement and get people familiar with you and your network. It’s an important part of being active on the service and making it easy for others to engage with you.
This section creates a snapshot of who you are and what you do on LinkedIn, which often translates into how helpful you are.
Again, Google is grabbing these posts as well, so you’ve got a clever way to introduce yourself and your company to potential connections that wouldn’t normally see you.
7. Don’t Forget Other Relevant Media
Does your profile tell us how great of a speaker you are or how you’ve mastered all the leading equipment in your field?
Words often don’t equal proof. Connections and prospects want to see it to believe it.
LinkedIn now supports a variety of other media, like photos and videos, that can give your connections the proof they want.
If your skill is easy to demonstrate, grab a few photos of you doing it or record a video and share — videos are especially powerful for skills like presentations and team leadership.
They’re simple to add and allow prospects to judge what you say you can do fairly.
8. Build Out Your Group
While we often get advice about being present in other groups, it can quickly add up to a big commitment that leads to burnout. Groups aren’t always useful, and you don’t want to give up because it feels like you’re shouting into the void.
So, what’s a brand to do?
Start your own group and provide fresh content regularly. We always recommend crafting a group that targets your best audience and just aims to provide information.
You want to be the person with the answers, not the person with the annoying sales pitch.
If you spend just a few minutes each morning or each week to create something useful, people will appreciate it.
You’re not going to create a 100% conversion rate of group participants to customers, but you’ll likely answer someone’s question today and be on the top of their mind when they’ve got a question tomorrow.
Bonus: Create A Call To Action
Think about what you someone to do after they look at your profile.
Now, take a look at your profile and see if you’ve asked them to do that anywhere.
To get messages, connections, calls, website visits, or whatever else you need, you must ask. LinkedIn profiles are a personal landing page. And we all know that the #1 rule of a good landing page is to have a clear, direct call-to-action.
If you don’t have a CTA, you’re missing opportunities at every view.
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