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How to use LinkedIn for businessPicture this… You just bought a brand-new vehicle. You did hours of research, figured out exactly what kind would meet your needs, and then you made a huge investment in that just-right one.

Now, it’s time to fill the tank on your new beauty — Do you use the more expensive gas that’s right for your car (high-quality and keeps your new investment running strong for years to come)? Or do you choose the cheap gas from the guy who sells it at the station around the corner — you know, the one with the broken-down, rotten pump?

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

If you’re in business and want to keep it running smoothly, you need to start thinking about your LinkedIn profile (and company profile) like your “dream vehicle”: If you put in the right gas (the right connections), take care of it, and keep up with slight “maintenance” improvements — you’ll be able to go AMAZING places.

Now, I can’t take all of the credit for this car/gas analogy for LinkedIn profiles. I attended Wayne Breitbarth’s LinkedIn seminar this past week in Milwaukee, and it was — in a word — EXTRAORDINARY!

I learned so many amazing tips about LinkedIn. I just have to share some of Wayne’s gems with all of you…

Your LinkedIn Profile

When viewers look at your profile, it should answer two questions right away:

(1) Why should I hire/interact with this person? and

(2) What can this person do for ME?

Does your profile answer these questions? If not, check out some of Wayne’s tips for maximizing your LinkedIn profile:

  • The guiding principles while building your LinkedIn profile should be a focus on two things: Keywords and Stories. Do these two things well, and you’ll be off to a good start!
  • Clearly describe what you do. Sell office furniture? Say, “We sell office furniture” not “We are constantly filling your space with comfort.”
  • Don’t waste characters. Be smart and choosy with your words. Make each one count.
  • Add exactly what you do to your name: President & Owner {Preferred Haworth Office Furniture Dealership}. Also know that bold words are viewed as being more important in a search.
  • Your headline needs to say exactly what you do — it’s your sales pitch.
  • Ramp up your “Skills” section (and cut out words like “leadership” and “motivated”). This is your LinkedIn pantry that needs to be filled with your 50 best keywords — brand names, product names, services you sell. Even though it’s not a skill, it’s still a keyword!

Groups

Groups are one of the most underutilized “secret weapons” of LinkedIn.

Here are some tips and information on groups that will help you use them correctly:

  • You’re allowed to join 50 groups, so join 50.
  • Being in groups improves your search ranking.
  • You can direct-message people you are in a group with (otherwise, you can only do this with first-degree connections, assuming you’re using the free version of LinkedIn).
  • Use groups as a listening and interaction tool — What are your customers talking about?

Connecting on LinkedIn

As I mentioned above, connections are the gas in your LinkedIn tank. Connections are the most important part of your LinkedIn page and will either keep things running smoothly or will stop your LinkedIn car from running properly.

Here are some tips for connections on LinkedIn:

  • DO NOT connect with prospects or strangers with the automated Connect button. Take the time to make a more meaningful connection with a personalized message.
  • Use mutual connections and “get introduced.”
  • Don’t just “sell” — Try to build relationships.
  • Connect with people whom you see as “good” gas for your tank (those who can help move you and your business forward).
  • Sales people should have 500+ connections. (They should have the most gas because they need to go further.)
  • Relationships and connections trump everything on LinkedIn when it comes to doing a search on LinkedIn. Your relationships and connections speak volumes for you.

Posts

If you aren’t posting on LinkedIn, you should just delete your account right now. Seriously. Posting content on your LinkedIn page is one of the most important components of a LinkedIn page. If you don’t post, your competitors will! And remember: Your potential clients probably follow both you and your competitors in the same day. They’re looking to see who knows the most — so you’d better show your stuff and prove to them that it’s YOU!

Here’s some vital information and ideas for posting content on your LinkedIn page:

  • 6-3-1 Rule: For every 10 status updates, 6 posts should be industry-related content written by other people that you read and found interesting, 3 posts should be educational/helpful information written by you and your company (click here for ideas), and 1 post should be information actually promoting your company. Remember: Sharing useful content should be a privilege, not a chore.
  • Your employees need to share content on their LinkedIn pages. When someone likes, comments, or shares a post, all of their connections see it (a.k.a. more eyes on your content!).

Employee Profiles

Employee profiles are as important as your company page. Why? LinkedIn is a social network; it’s about PEOPLE and CONNECTIONS. Those are what show up first in a search and what people search for.

So how do you get your employees’ profiles optimized and utilize best practices? Here is a list of steps you should take:

  1. Make sure your employees are correctly linked to the company page.
  2. Be sure there is a unified team brand on employee profiles.
  3. Require all employees to have a professional and tasteful profile photo.
  4. Create a list of keywords for each employee to put on his or her profile (especially in the Skills and Summary sections).
  5. Ensure that one paragraph in the employee Summary section is about your organization and includes a list of services (keywords). First sentences need to be exactly what the company does (this comes up as Company Preview on employee links). Follow this with 2–3 paragraphs on your employees’ skills and expertise and more details about themselves.
  6. Provide examples for their professional gallery (whitepapers, eBooks, videos, links to your company blog).
  7. Create a policy: You do not write recommendations within the company to each other; recommendations are for customers to write.
  8. Apply best practices. Example: If you see something from our company page, you should share, like, or comment on it.

A lot of great information from Wayne, right? The most mind-blowing part is that this is just 1/10th of what goes into LinkedIn success.

LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful social networks for businesses — Make sure your company is utilizing this platform to its fullest potential. And if you’re a CEO, be sure to check out “A CEO’s Guide to Networking Using LinkedIn.”

What other social networks would be beneficial for your business? Check out our post “Which Social Media Platform is Right for YOUR Business?” to see what other digital communities might be right for YOU.

And if you have a specific question about what I learned at Wayne’s seminar, you can always connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

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