If you think LinkedIn is only the domain of corporate climbers like sales reps and CEOs, think again!
The world’s most popular professional online network is useful for everyone in business, from online retailers and software developers to nannies and gardeners.
Use it to connect with suppliers and potential business partners, develop new business and grow your own brand. You can even publish your own articles.
And it’s free. So let’s get cracking.
Set up your personal profile
If you haven’t created a LinkedIn personal profile yet, your first step is to visit www.linkedin.com and make one. Grab a few materials to help you with this, like your CV and a decent photo, and follow the simple step-by-step instructions.
Here are a few tips:
- Use your headline to describe what you do. You can be creative if you work for yourself, so if you want to be “head honcho” then go ahead.
- Upload a smiley professional photo. You don’t need to pay for a formal shot, but make sure the one you choose reflects you as a trustworthy professional, not a surfer girl or party boy (unless that’s your brand!).
- Fill in as many fields you can on your profile. You don’t need to list everything you’ve ever done, but do be proud of your achievements! Include as much information as possible about your business as well to ensure people using LinkedIn to search for information can find you.
- Write about yourself in the first person, not the third (ie: use I, not “Clare”) and don’t be stuffy or officious-sounding. Write how you talk and let your personality shine through.
- Use the words and phrases you’d like to be found for online, like your products and your store’s name.
- Check your account privacy and settings to control the finer details of your LinkedIn account, like who sees what. Roll over your tiny photo, top right, and choose “Privacy and Settings”.
Connect with other professionals on LinkedIn
Connections are the key to success on LinkedIn. When you’re set up, invite other professionals you know to join your network.
LinkedIn makes it easy to do so with an automated tool during the set up process. Once you’ve done that, you can search for other suppliers and business partners to connect with using the search bar.
Ramp up your LinkedIn presence
There’s so much more you can do than just list your professional history on your profile page and build your connections.
Try these next activities on a regular basis to help raise your profile.
- Like, share and comment on interesting content that drops into your newsfeed from your connections and the companies and groups you follow.
- Ask connections you’ve worked in the past, like employers, clients and suppliers, for a recommendation of your business skills to display on your profile. You can easily do this via a simple request form you’ll find under “Privacy and Settings > Profile > Manage Recommendations”. It’s helpful to give out recommendations where you can, even if you’re not asked first.
- Follow companies you’re interested in and their LinkedIn posts will show up in your newsfeed. It’s a great way to keep an eye on your competitors! Find companies to follow using the search bar at the top of your LinkedIn page.
- Join LinkedIn Groups to expose yourself to conversations in your niche. Look for existing groups that interest you and join them to contribute ideas, answer questions and post your own. Search for groups to join under “Interests > Groups” and click the blue “find a group” button.
- Find and follow influential LinkedIn users in the Pulse section of your profile. You’ll find their posts under “Interests > Pulse”
Get into a routine of checking your LinkedIn account often and growing your connections. It could lead to new business, suppliers or referrals. Next up, I’ll look at how to launch a LinkedIn Business page. Stay tuned!
Next up, I’ll look at how to launch a LinkedIn Business page. Stay tuned!