LinkedIn is a must-have platform for professionals and the businesses who want to connect with them. Whether you're an individual looking to find a new job, a social media practitioner looking to start their own agency, or even a business owner or HR rep trying to find the next best hire for your company, LinkedIn can offer you immense value.
It's not uncommon, however, for people to struggle to get results with LinkedIn, no matter what it is they're trying to get out of the platform. This is largely because LinkedIn is so different from other platforms, with a huge focus on professional networking, that many people aren't using it 100% correctly.
We want to help you change that. In this post, we're going to take a look at NUMBER different things all LinkedIn profiles need to be successful and help you attract whatever audience it is you're hoping will find you on the platform.
1. Know the Difference Between Personal Profiles & Company Pages
This is important, so we want to stress it: you can have both a personal profile and a Company Page on LinkedIn, but you should never create a personal profile for your business, even if you're a one-man show and a solopreneur.
People don't trust connection requests that show up with a business logo and brand name instead of an actual person, especially given all the security and privacy issues happening online. It feels like there's an issue of transparency; people would rather follow a Company page than have one able to see everything they are posting and sharing.
Want to do both? Great! You can learn more about how to set up a Company page here.
Personal profiles are meant to be exactly that. You can still talk about your business, but make sure that you're using your name and a picture of you.
Which brings us to the next must-have on our list...
2. Choose Professional LinkedIn Photos
Some of the biggest mistakes you might see happening on LinkedIn will be made when it comes to the pictures.
We can't stress this enough: always choose a professional LinkedIn photo that represents your work persona.
For personal profiles, this should be a high-resolution headshot of what you might look like when taking an important client call. The following criteria should be followed:
- You should be wearing professional attire. It can be casual, like a nice shirt and jeans, or you could be going for the full suit, as long as you'd wear it to your place of work. This means you should not be wearing a wedding dress, a tux, or clothes so casual it looks like you're headed to a day of hiking later on, unless you're a hiking tour manager perhaps. No matter what, skip the sunglasses or hats that block your face. (This does not include hijabs, which are welcome.)
- You should be the only person in the picture. No couples pictures and no friends pictures; this is all about you.
- You should be smiling. This perhaps won't surprise many people, but users on LinkedIn typically respond more favorably to those who were smiling in their profile pictures, likely because it helped them to look more friendly and approachable. Direct eye contact with the camera is also a plus.
- You should focus on the upper body. Typically a head-to-shoulders or a head-to-torso shot will look best on the platform, especially since images are cropped.
When you consider that your picture may be the first impression an employer, client, or potential job applicant has of you, it's easy to see why choosing a professional LInkedIn photo is so important.
If you're setting up your Company Page, opt for your brand logo as its profile picture. This is simple, and it's likely your profile picture for other social platforms, making it easy for users to identify and trust.
The ideal LinkedIn profile picture will be 400 x 400 pixels, but it will have a circular crop immediately; take this into consideration when choosing your picture. When uploading it, you'll have the option to crop your professional LinkedIn photo, along with adjusting the brightness or adding filters to the image.
3. Place Links In Your Bio
Did you know that you can add links to your LinkedIn bio? A lot of people miss this entirely.
This feature is particularly important if you have extra content you want to showcase to establish credibility or send traffic to a specific site off-platform. A few examples of best uses for the feature include:
- A business owner or salesperson trying to turn profile visits into actual sales or conversions, and they use the link to send people directly to their site or landing page.
- Creative workers who can showcase their work online, either independently or through a portfolio. This is a great option, for example, for graphic designers and writers who have visual content to share easily.
- Industry leaders who have appeared as an expert source, either in television interviews, articles, or more. Go ahead and link to those media appearances to show them off.
Adding links in your LinkedIn bio is actually pretty easy. Click to your profile, and then choose to edit your intro. Scroll down until you see 'Media," where you can either upload documents, images, or videos, or attach a link. Copy and paste the link, and it will appear on your bio for users to see (and hopefully click).
When you're adding links to your profile, keep in mind that you want to flaunt your stuff but that you still need to be selective. Very few people aside from internet stalkers (and possibly an ex or two) will actually click on every single one if you have too many. Try to keep your links to five or less, and make sure that the most important and valuable link is listed first (meaning you need to add it last).
4. Optimize Your Bio for Keywords
Both your Company pages (if applicable) and personal profiles should be written with keywords in mind, including both your title and your full bio. Ideally, after all, people who are interested in what you have to offer will actually be able to find you when they're searching for you.
Do a little reverse psychology here. Think about what you have to offer, and what terms people might use to find you.
Let's say, for example, you specialize in graphic design but also do children's books. If you only highlight the graphic design part of the equation in your bio, people searching for the second half of your services won't be able to find you. Adding "illustrator" to your title and bio will help you pop up in their searches and show them right away that you offer services that match their needs.
If you aren't entirely sure what to optimize for, there are two things we recommend.
The first is to take a look at the profiles of your competitors with a lot of followers and plenty of reviews. What terms are they using for their job titles, business descriptors, and services? Make sure to look for adjectives, too; "WordPress site designer" might be a skill people are looking for instead of just 'site designer."
The second option is to look at what searches you're already appearing in, and see what roles you're showing up in searches for. You can do this here. If you're showing up in relevant searches, you're likely on track, but if the search terms are completely different from what you offer, it may be time to switch up the terms you're using in your title and bio.
When you click on the titles of searches you appear in, it will take you to a new page showing
you multiple job titles related to those searches. These can give you some new ideas.
5. Get Specific About Your Services & Job Roles
This ties in with the tips above. Be specific about the exact job title you do, your skill set, and the services you offer if applicable.
You can just say "social media manager," for example, or you could list out specifics, like "Social media manager offering full service ad management, social strategy development, content creation, and engagement management."
These could each help you show up in relevant searches, but just as importantly, they'll show your clients or employers that you have what they need right from the get-go. This is valuable, because if people don't see what they're looking for at a quick glimpse, they'll move on to someone else.
Don't be afraid to highlight what makes you unique, too. Share the background experience, because it may be exactly what your new clients are looking for. The profile above, for example, features her background in multiple distinct areas; a wedding planner may find her particularly appealing as a social media manager because she has experience in event management, meaning she'd be able to understand their business well. You never know what your audience might find valuable, so while you don't want to include anything that's unnecessary, highlight the value you offer clearly.
6. Ask for Recommendations
No matter what it is that you want to accomplish, recommendations on LinkedIn will help you do it.
Social proof is always valuable on social media, so having some likes and engagement on your posts are great, but having permanent recommendations on your personal profile take it to another level. People can see what your peers have to say about you, and the reviewer's relationship with you.
Ask your past and current colleagues, peers, supervisors, and clients for reviews on the platform. We prefer to ask directly, either in person or over email, and then send the nudge through LinkedIn.
LinkedIn allows you to send an automated request to someone asking them to leave you a review. This is the easiest way to ensure that this will happen, especially since many users would struggle to figure out how to leave one on their own if they aren't familiar with the platform. Go to your own profile, look for the review section, and then click "Ask to be recommended."
When you do this, you'll be able to search for a specific person you want to review you, and then you can fill out a more personalized request to make it easier on the future reviewer. Enter in your relationship with the individual, and then the position you were working in at the time.
As a good practice, it's often helpful and considerate to offer to write a review for the person you are requesting one from in exchange for their time. As a business owner, you can also offer a discount for their effort, but only if you make it clear that you aren't trying to buy a positive review outright.
LinkedIn is an exceptional resource, no matter what it is that you want to use it for. We've personally known people who have used it to grow their businesses from the ground up, finding everyone from clients to vendors to contractors to help them with the work. We've also seen people who have been recruited for great jobs, even if they weren't looking, and we've used it to connect with potential employees and contractors we were interested in working with ourselves.
From a user's perspective, LinkedIn has so much to offer professionals, especially because everyone on the platform is there for professional purposes. In order to get the most out of the platform, though, make sure that you're engaging on it regularly and not just when you need something.
Active profiles will be the most effective, all else being equal, so be proactive. Share great content (bonus points if you didn't create all of it yourself), interact with other users' posts, and make sure you're willing to make the first move by reaching out to those you'd like to have as connections. With a fully optimized profile and some effort into creating relationships, you'll be able to accomplish your marketing goals in the blink of an eye.