Using LinkedIn for new business by Keith Smith, Managing Director of new business platform The Advertist.

Have you tried NOT using LinkedIn recently? It’s almost bloody impossible.

How did that happen?

Since Reid Hoffman and his team launched the service in 2003, LinkedIn has attracted 756 million members and generated about $8 billion in revenues (as of January 2022).

Stunning stuff

And it underlines just what a great idea it was, is and how useful its going to be, as we all try to make sense of this remote world we now live in.

I must admit, when it launched, I ignored it. In 2003, I was still driving to meetings, sometimes an entire day for one meeting, or taking the train – same timescales, and generally being so much less efficient than I am now.

I now use LinkedIn all the time. Our businesses use LinkedIn all the time. Some of our folks are power users, but for my own personal LinkedIn account, I just use the basic free version.

I’m constantly being told by business acquaintances that I have a pretty good LinkedIn profile and they admire how much effort I put into it. During the week, I’m plugged into it all day. That little red notification icon is what I live for. It’s my endorphin trigger.

It may sound a bit sad. In fact, there’s no MAY about it; it does sound sad, but I’m not giving it up. To paraphrase Charlton Heston, you’d have to pry that mouse out of my cold, dead hand.

Because I’m a believer! I find LinkedIn the single most useful business platform in my arsenal. It’s where I generate contacts, friends, and business. It takes work, but it’s worth it.

LinkedIn is like a 3D business card, where you can manage your own message. It’s a Godsend.

So why are so many people not making the most of LinkedIn? If I had a pound for every meeting I’ve had where people say something like “ Yeah I know I need to build up my LinkedIn profile, but I just haven’t got round to it,” I wouldn’t need to work for a living.

In this article I’m going to give you some simple quick wins that you can use to take your profile from super loser to super user.

Why me?

I also have the benefit of The Fuel Podcast, where I’ve been able to interview some of the people I view as most effective users of LinkedIn. The experts, the Linkerati.

People like John EspirianNeil Schaffer and Ella Orr. If you want to really get into LinkedIn social media marketing, you need to speak to John or Ella and sign up to their courses – all great value.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my collected wisdom and ideas that you can use to enhance the free version of your LinkedIn profile – to make sure you maximise your time on the service.

So let’s get down to it.

Let’s start with your profile picture.

Avoid party shots, wedding shots, ‘cropped from a group’ shots, or anything where you are holding up a half drunk glass of booze – unless booze is your job. We’ve all got wonderful cameras these days, so use it to take a nice, sensible, work-related profile shot.

If you are creative, then by all means add in animals, animation or digital effects. They can make people smile and as they say a picture can paint a thousand words, so utilize this in your profile pic.

Your name. Here’s where you get to tell people how you’d like to be known. “James (Jim) Spaghetti” You also have the option to indicate your pronouns and other bespoke features of your nomenclature.

Also, if you have an exotic or often mispronounced name (I’m SO jealous!) then – if you download the mobile app, you can record a 10-second audio clip of you pronouncing your own name. Very handy. And this is another branding opportunity, as you’ll hear from my example.

Now we get to your headline. Just below your name

Here’s mine:

New business prepper. Host at Fuel podcast, MD, The Advertist new biz platform. New business as easy as ABC!

You have 120 characters to make an impactful statement. John Espirian advised me to use up all the characters and to break it down into three parts. Your mission, your company and then a memorable pay-off line. I used to have “probably thinking about bacon” but now I’m vegetarian, that doesn’t work, so feel free to borrow that!

You also have the opportunity to let people know what subjects interest you by adding in hashtags and talking points.

To the right of your headline, is your company URL and web site. Do not waste this opportunity to promote your latest web launches. You can change this around to fit whatever your latest campaign might be, so make use of it.

Directly under the headline section is your ‘Providing Services’ section where you can detail all the different skills you bring to the table.

Underneath this is your Featured Content. Your shop window. Use this to let people see your latest posts and points of view.

Beneath that, is a chronological view of your latest posts. Here’s where you need to pay attention to what you post. If you like delivering snarky one-liners or trolling people, then they will show up here. Alternatively, you could use this window to show new visitors how insightful and informative (and witty) you are.

Underneath this is the meat of your profile – ‘About’, Here you have 2000 characters, so go crazy and use them all. It’s a great opportunity to promote all the neat features of your career – accomplishments, a summary of your view points and attitudes and here’s where John Espirian really helped – add a key phrase or ‘secret word’ that people could use to prove they’ve actually read your profile. I think John says something like “mention the word Pineapple to prove you’ve read my profile”. I put “Get my attention – Mention the word “Bauhaus” in your LinkedIn invitation.”

To date, literally no-one has mentioned the word Bauhaus when they speak to me. Ho hum.

Also use the ‘about’ section to detail some interesting, little known facts about you. Some fun elements that give a sense of your personality.

Then we come to your career history.

Fill these sections in with as much detail as you can. You are in control of your past here, so use it to present the best side of your jobs and responsibilities. But please fill it in. Give readers a great opportunity to find out as much about your experience, your careers arc and your ambitions, goals, special projects etc.

The above should give you a shot at optimizing your profile. Obviously, I would strongly urge you to seek the advice of an expert like John Espirian & Ella Orr to cover off all the low-hanging fruit that tells people more about you.

Part 2

Stay on top of your LinkedIn activity because it is simply the easiest way to control your brand online.

However, there is one more – highly important factor to bear in mind with LinkedIn that will really make you stand out, and that’s your engagement.

How you interact with others on LinkedIn is critical to your visibility. From a new business perspective, this is your opportunity to engage with prospects in new areas or companies, with insightful and knowledgeable comments and posts, so don’t just hit ‘Like’ and hope they see it and offer you a pitch. It will never happen.

Here’s a tip that can both work for you and against you. Commenting on a post gives it oxygen. It lets the algorithm know that a post is worthwhile and engaging. So if a prospect has posted up something you want to respond to, then respond with a few sentences of praise, additional info, support, endorsements etc. It will give the original post life and it will be circulated to your contacts and followers. However, if you get dragged, or someone shades you on LinkedIn, don’t respond, because – for the very same reason, you’re literally trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

I guess the biggest thing that I’ve learned is to engage. Like voting, it’s best to to it early and often. Stay on top of your LinkedIn activity because it is simply the easiest way to control your brand online.

There is another facet to LinkedIn that I get asked about a lot and that’s advertising. Specifically “Is LinkedIn advertising worth it?”

That, I’m going to leave for anther day and another podcast because my good friend Ben Salmon has a few choice things to say about that and it’s all good.

LinkedIn has been one of the most significant inventions in the business community in the last 20 years. Don’t squander the chance to promote yourself and your business.

This newsletter is only the briefest of how-to’s and if I get enough feedback, I will do a more in-depth, blow-by-blow instruction, for those who really want to tune up their profile.

Thank you for letting me marvel at the brilliance of LinkedIn. I hope that you too get to maximise your LinkedIn activity because in my humble opinion, it is a key asset in the new business and sales arsenal, and you should ignore it at your peril.

And finally, thank you Reid Hoffman for inventing LinkedIn. I love your work.

To me this is an innovation as momentous as sliced bread. In fact, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

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