LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social networks around. Despite that statistic, I find a lot of small business owners aren’t using it. I have to believe the reason for that is two-fold. One, they don’t know where to get started on ANOTHER social network and two, they don’t think they have the time to maintain another account.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is not a social platform that you have to devote attention to everyday. Of course it is best practices to visit your LinkedIn account daily, see what’s going on in your network, interact with your contacts and join in group discussions…but let’s face it, not everyone has time for that. While there are some people that use LinkedIn for recruiting and lead generation who need to be on it daily, there are others like myself, that use it to stay in touch contacts. For me, it’s like a virtual Rolodex. I have found that checking in a few times a week, posting updates occasionally and interacting with my network when I have time has been enough to make LinkedIn a successful platform for me.
LinkedIn has many benefits for small business owners. If nothing else, you never know when you’ll need to tap into your network so keeping in touch is critical. Here are 4 steps I recommend to get started using LinkedIn for business.
Step 1 – Get a Professional Head Shot Done
If you do not have one already, invest in a professional head shot. While I’m sure you looked really nice at your cousin’s wedding last year, reserve shots like that for other social media sites, like Facebook. You want your LinkedIn image to be as professional as possible.
Step 2 – Use Your Resume as a Guide
I don’t recommend copying your resume word for word as you should write your LinkedIn profile differently than you would your resume, especially the summary section. Instead use your resume as a guide for all you’ve done in your career. If it’s on your resume, it should probably be in your LinkedIn profile. Then take advantage of the special sections LinkedIn has to offer and add samples of your work or pictures of products.
Step 3 – Think About Search Engine Optimization
As you think about what you’re going to write in your headline and in your summary, think about the terms someone may search if they were looking for your products or services. Include those terms in your headline and summary but make sure they flow properly with the information you’ve included. Don’t just include them to include them.
4. Step 4 – Have Someone Proofread Your Profile
Once you get your profile populated, I highly recommend you have someone else proofread it, not only for grammatical errors but also for content. Tell whom ever is proofing it what your objective is in creating a LinkedIn profile. If you are in direct sales and you want to use LinkedIn to grow your sales team, make sure your profile speaks to the benefits of being in your company and shows how successful you’ve been with it.
Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, you need to start connecting with people. Trust me, people will start coming to you before you know it, but in the mean time, start connecting with your most important professional contacts. Remember to return to LinkedIn and connect with new people you meet along the way to continuously grow your network. Then, post an update from time to time to remind people you are there!