LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing social networking sites for professionals and businesses – and perhaps the most useful. It has grown to become the social media site of choice for small business owners, professionals, and executives who are looking to create gainful business relationships.
And with its recent redesign, LinkedIn is gradually transforming itself into the only social networking site that business-minded individuals need to network and consume information that matters to them most.
If you’re looking to create value and establish relationships with people that matter to your professional and entrepreneurial growth, here are some great tips for you to get the most out of LinkedIn.
Create Trust by Sprucing Up Your Profile
Entrepreneurs and employers you wish to reach out to may not know you very well. That’s why many prefer to get comfortable dealing with you initially by learning more about you through your LinkedIn profile.
The most important thing to do if you are to build trust with your target audience is to complete your LinkedIn profile.
Remember that your LinkedIn profile is essentially your online resume, which can be made publicly available.
First, the photo. Your photo should present the natural you. If you feel like presenting yourself as someone people can trust, a little smile can help.
But don’t force your smile! Smile as though you are very happy to meet someone. Think of a time when you were introduced to someone you found yourself very pleased to meet for the first time.
If you’re uncomfortable smiling while posing for a head shot, just be yourself. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t get caught with that deer-in-the-headlights expression.
As for what to wear for your photo, select formal to semi-formal attire that you’re comfortable wearing. Remember, you’re not putting a photo on your Facebook profile. You’re putting your mug in a professional “place.”
For more help on choosing the best photo for your LinkedIn profile, here’s a great resource for you.
The Professional Headline. You want prospects to know what you have to offer, upon seeing your profile. The best way to catch their attention is to create a relevant headline. The profile headline is located right below your name on your LinkedIn profile.
You can add a headline to your profile by editing the name field on the Edit Profile section of your account.
Tip: Be creative when writing a professional headline for your profile. Devise an inviting headline such as “Helping your company get found with the best ad copy” or something like that. BE CREATIVE!
Employment details. Put in as much related experience or employment details as you can that add substance and weight to your prospects. If you are gunning for a freelance job as a content writer, for example, include as much relevant experience as possible on your profile to showcase your writing experience.
Be very specific when putting the name of the employer and the job and the description of the previous jobs you’ve held. Make your job history as descriptive as possible.
Contact details. With a great-looking profile and a tempting professional headline, recruiters and businesses will be more likely to get in touch with you.
Keep in mind, however, that only your 1st-degree contacts are shown your contact details. However, many folks actually include their email address in their professional headline so others can see that they welcome outreach.
You can have your professional headline read “SEO Expert – Helping You Get to Google’s No. 1 Spot – For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org”
Finding the Right Clients for Your Business
First, a note on adding contacts on LinkedIn. You can add contacts on LinkedIn right after signing up by utilizing their invite forms which mine your existing email address lists.
Be careful not to add people you don’t know or who don’t know you. If you attract too many “I don’t know’s” from people you’ve invited, that can get your account manually reviewed for spam.
There is a way, however, to invite people to connect with you, even if you don’t know their email addresses and they don’t know you – by way of LinkedIn Groups.
As soon as you’re done sprucing up your LinkedIn profile, join groups that are related to your business, or where you think you can find prospects. If you’re an online content writer, for example, you want to find people who work in the SEO industry; the best LinkedIn Groups to find them in are those that relate to marketing, SEO, social media marketing, etc.
Take note that you may only join up to 50 LinkedIn Groups, so choose the ones with which you want to be associated carefully. Also, take note that you may not be allowed to immediately join every group you apply for, but don’t fret. There are plenty of LinkedIn groups to go around.
To target the groups related to your target audience, you can do a quick Groups search using the search box shown below.
Say you want to join groups relating to “retailers.” All you need to do is type in “retailers” in the search box above. There are currently 1,263 groups related to “retailers” on LinkedIn. See below.
Targeting Your Prospects with Laser Precision
Now you want to target your prospects with absolute accuracy, but remember: you can’t invite people to connect with you unless you’ve already established some form of connection such as being in the same groups or working with them at a company previously.
To find exactly who you want to connect with on LinkedIn – who you think would find your service to be valuable – take advantage of LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
Advanced Search allows you to filter your searches so you can find the people with whom you wish to connect.
Assuming you don’t have anyone on your contacts list yet, but you’re already a member of several groups related to the business of your target audience, click on Group Members under the Relationship field.
The search results will show all LinkedIn members who are owners of businesses connected with the retail industry. However, you can’t get to them or even send them messages unless you’re connected in some way within LinkedIn. But remember, we filtered our search to include only those who are fellow members of a group you’re a member of.
Look at the sample profile below:
As you can see from the example above, I’ve got two shared connections with the person who owns the profile. If I wanted to get in touch with him by sending him a message, all I’ve got to do is click on either of the groups above and find the person using the Members tab on the group’s page.
When you click on the Members tab, you’ll be taken to another page where you can find a search box on the left side where you can enter the person’s name and company.
After hitting search, you’ll then be taken to a search page result. As you hover over the person’s profile, options will come up on the far right side of the profile such as below:
Click Send message to reach out to the person. Remember, this is the only way you can message someone on LinkedIn when you’re not directly connected with each other.
Messaging your prospect
I find that messages that are highly personalized, short, direct, and to the point get your prospect’s attention because:
• It doesn’t sound spammy
• It allows your prospect to feel that you respect their time
• It engages them by creating a specific point of interest
I keep my messages as short, direct, and to the point as possible. Most of the time, I hear back from prospects asking me for more information, and some have ended up being my clients.
When I get inquiries, I always thank the prospects for their response, and then proceed to show them how we can work together.
A few take-aways here as we wrap up:
• Remember to keep your LinkedIn profile as descriptive and complete as possible.
• Target only prospects that are qualified for your types of products or services.
• Don’t spam! Always personalize your messages and keep them short.
• Use LinkedIn to its full potential to grow your business online.