LinkedIn is just another business tool, but set up in the right way and with the right activities, it can help you, explains Tony K Silver
LinkedIn is just a tool. I have been saying this a lot recently, and I believe that it is just that, a business tool. The important thing, though, is that it is a particularly valuable tool, used and trusted by millions of business professionals all over the world. LinkedIn is now at one billion members and (LinkedIn claims) continues to grow at approximately four new members a second. LinkedIn also claims it is in most countries in the world. Currently, there are 35 million users in the UK and 200 million in the USA.
Your potential prospects/clients/future employers are likely on the platform. I often discuss this with clients and say that if they are looking for business owners, directors, managers, and office-based personnel, chances are that they have a LinkedIn profile. Many will also have company pages, but I still believe that it is mostly a personal professional platform and people are looking for people.
LinkedIn was set up by five people in the HR space. It became an online CV, and you filled in the sections in that way to engage with your ideal employer, which of course you can still do. However, the platform is very misunderstood by many people, and I certainly understand two things as being responsible for this.
- When you joined, you never received a user manual.
- Ever since you joined, you have never been sent any messages letting you know about updates.
We have all set up our own profiles, asking a friend or associate to help us or looking it up online. Then we have “had a go” at the activities and tried to understand the platform, often with mixed results at best. I have been looking at LinkedIn profiles for 14 years now and have seen hundreds of thousands of profiles. I would say that less than 5% are using the platform to its fullest extent – and that is being optimistic!
Some sections are particularly important to getting engagement: firstly, the bit people see when they first view your profile (known as the Top Card), which consists of a banner, headshot, and headline, and secondly, the “About” section.
Common mistakes are based on not realising that your profile needs to speak to your ideal viewer, much like a good website (your profile is a page on a website, after all).
Mistake 1: The Banner
A bad profile has a banner that does not tell the viewer what you do. It is either the pastel one your profile came with or sometimes just an image. A good one will combine images with logos and keywords around how you can help the viewer.
Mistake 2: The Headshot
For best effect, use a professional headshot.
Mistake 3: The Headline
Another mistake is to just have your job title and your company name as your headline. There are 220 characters available in this area, so you can let the viewer know how you can help, put in some credibility, or answer a question that your ideal viewer would engage in positively.
The “About” Section
The “About” section has 2,600 characters available, but many profiles are only a few lines long. You can use it as a summary of your profile and inform the viewer what you do, how you do it and the benefits you bring. You can also include a call to action. A good “About” section can encourage people to reach out to you.
The most common reasons people use LinkedIn are:
- Career move/job hunting
- Lead generation
- To have a profile that is at the forefront
The last year has seen some great updates to the standard LinkedIn search engine, which is great for outreach. There have been more filters added, which means you can get consistently targeted results even when the initial numbers of the search are in the millions.
Once you have set your profile up correctly, and your activities are on trend, your profile can be at the forefront. By using LinkedIn in a highly efficient way, I help my clients’ ROI (return on investment).
In summary, LinkedIn is just another business tool, but set up in the right way to engage and with the right activities, it can help you.