Editor’s Note: Our Connect Beat 101 series provides tools, tips, and strategies for helping you connect with those you most want to reach, using social media, story, branding, and other tools.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social media network, and what that means is that it can be a great place to prospect for new clients and customers. But you can’t approach LinkedIn the way you do your other social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter. For instance, the light, frivolous fun-filled fare you post to Facebook just may not work on LinkedIn. People investing time there aren’t interested in how you spent your Friday night, your kid’s latest antics, or the epiphany you had about the difference between two cereals — unless those details can help them work better. So when posting status updates to LinkedIn, look to create updates that add value to your reader’s life or show what you can add to an organization. They can be updates related to your business or industry, if you are focusing on a particular area, or they can be updates of general career or business interest.
Here are three quick ways to improve your LinkedIn profile
1. Create an appropriate profile title.
Don’t make the mistake of throwing up a generic title that could apply to every other person in your industry or that doesn’t really set you apart. For instance, I could have just said “Writer” as my profile title, but that doesn’t tell anyone much. Do I write poetry or short stories? Do I write ad copy? Am I an amateur or professional? Instead, go for specificity. In my case, my profile title is “Author or Ghostwriter of More Than 30 Books | Founder of RootSky Books | Book Ghostwriter.” It’s easy for a viewer to see, at a glance, that I am a professional writer and that I specialize in ghostwriting books. So put some thought into your profile title.
2. Be focused in your profile title and summary.
Whether it’s your profile title or your summary, try to focus on one or two job areas you do well. Many people create a whole list of jobs or positions they hold, listing them all prominently in their titles or summaries. This doesn’t make them more attractive, but rather, less. That is because they look like unfocused jack-of-all-trades types. Jack-of-all-trades types often dabble a little in a lot, but aren’t excellent at any. So choose to focus on what makes you excellent, not what just makes you look like you are spread too thin, still trying to find your way. This isn’t to say you cannot list disparate skills. You can. Do so in your work history or resume. But when it comes to your prominently displayed profile title and the first paragraph of your summary, go for the one or two skills or abilities that set you apart and that can help you land that next client, customer, or job.
For instance, if you are looking for work as a social media strategist, then focus on a title and summary start that best showcase your abilities in this area. Later in your summary, you may mention other, seemingly unrelated skills, but try to tie them to your social media work. A stint as a waiter, for instance, may seem unrelated to your quest to be hired as a social media strategist, but if you show how your server experience helped you connect with people in a unique way or taught you about human buying tendencies, then maybe it’s suddenly related to your social media work, because that server experience actually helps you connect with people in a more genuine way.
Just recently I received a LinkedIn connection request from a woman whose profile was all over the place. She said she had four or five positions, she was working on this and that, and the rest of the profile talked about a new career path she was “trying” to get off the ground. It was not very impressive. Instead, it just looked as if she had no clear view of what she wanted to do, and from a hiring standpoint, it wasn’t someone I could consider hiring in any capacity.
3. Reach out to your contacts.
Take the time to add a quick note when you accept a LinkedIn request. Thank the person for connecting with you and say something favorable toward the person. You can do this by reviewing his or her profile and commenting on something specific about this person or you can be a little more generic by saying you look forward to this person’s updates or learning more about their work. Then take time to write a brief bit about how you can help this person. Make the bit about you just one or two sentences. The point here isn’t to sell anything; it’s just about acknowledging the person, connecting with him or her, and raising awareness about how you may be of service.
I’ve gotten several leads for business using just this one tactic. In fact, just this past week, we landed a client after I sent such a note to a LinkedIn contact who reached out to me to connect. When I accepted his request, I thanked him for reaching out, acknowledged his work, and dropped a line about the editing and ghostwriting work I do. He messaged back that he actually knew someone who needed my services. A few exchanges later, I had the contact information for the person he was sending our way and the woman and I made a deal.
Another way to reach out to your contacts is to comment on their status updates that show up in your stream. Commenting raises awareness of you and a thoughtful comment that adds to the discussion can help show that you have expertise or knowledge in a particular area. This can cause your contact or your contact’s contacts to take a look at your profile and even reach out to you for for business. This also works well for group comments. Join relevant groups and comment on appropriate posts. I’ve gotten LinkedIn connection requests from people who have seen my group comments and wanted to reach out as a result.
All of these are actions you can take now to improve your LinkedIn experience so you get more out of it.
What ways have you improved your LinkedIn experience?
Monica Carter Tagore is the author of the forthcoming Connect and Conquer: Grow Your Business, Organization, and Career Through Online and Offline Relationships. Join our mailing list by clicking here to be among the first to hear when it is published. Visit ConnectBeat.com for more information on connecting to your audience through social media, story, branding, and more.