To some, LinkedIn is the red-headed stepchild of social media platforms, but what many bloggers don’t realise is how effective it can be at generating traffic back to your website, especially if you work in the B2B (business to business) realm. While Facebook is the unquestioned king of social media at 1.59 billion users, LinkedIn’s 400 million is nothing to scoff at. With a properly tweaked profile, a blogger can entice a huge amount of LinkedIn traffic back to his or her website.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is the only major social media platform where users talk business 24/7. In other words, they aren’t there to watch funny cat videos. If your blog content is great, but people aren’t finding it from LinkedIn, there’s a good chance that your profile – how can we put this politely – reeks. Here’s how to build that sucker out for maximum effect.
Change the Focus
When we start filling out social media profiles, it’s natural to focus on ourselves, especially when we want to encourage people to do something. Look at me! Look how great I am! See what I can do! But when it comes to selling yourself, you need to be more clever than that.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Would you want to read a recitation of accomplishments or find out how they can help YOU? If you’re honest, it’s the latter. That’s easy to say, but how do you do it? It’s all in how you phrase your sentences. Rather than say, “I managed a team of 10 people,” try something like, “I attracted top talent for my team and was able to increase sales by 25 percent.” See the difference? Try to infuse a similar focus into your profile writing.
Get a Headshot
In case you were wondering, no, it’s not okay to use that righteous photo of you getting smashed at the local bar during your senior year of college for a profile picture. You need something professional. Have you heard of headshots? If not, look it up and then get one. You don’t have to spend big money doing this, but a nice, professional (smiling) image of yourself is the price of admission to being taken seriously on LinkedIn. These are business people looking to cultivate business relationships, not find their next drinking buddy.
The image you post to your profile could be the first impression a potential employer or client has of you. You never know what opportunity might be lost by failing this one simple task. Maybe Richard Branson is trolling LinkedIn in search of a new website designer. Would you want to lose him as a client because you didn’t take the time to sit down for a single freakin’ decent photograph? ‘Nuff said.
Grab ‘Em By the Throat
When you create a LinkedIn account, your main headline is already populated with your current company and job title. In a word, b-o-r-i-n-g. You can change this default headline to something more exciting, and you should. For searchability, include keywords, but keep the whole thing to 10 words or less. We would also suggest you stay away from worn out industry jargon phrases. Be fresh, be unexpected and, more than anything else, be real. LinkedIn itself has a quick guide to crafting a knock-em-dead headline. Here’s the short version:
1. Figure out your value proposition and flaunt it. In other words, why do you want people to hire/employ you? It might seem redundant to say but put it in the headline.
2. Use the right keywords. We’ve mentioned this already but here’s a concrete example. No one wants to hire you because you’re a vice-president of some company they’ve never heard of. But they might be interested that you have a background in “arbitration clauses,” or whatever your speciality is. See how that works?
3. Be interesting. Maybe more than anything, consider this a point of supreme importance. Think about it. If you have the choice to learn more about a boring person or an interesting person, which will you choose? We rest our case.
4. Split testing. Yes, the vaunted A/B split testing is a marketing standard, and don’t for a minute think it’s not for you. It’s simple. Run one headline for a week, then switch it out for another one. If the second performs better, let it run for a week then try a third. Always be refining. Always be improving. Always be testing your headline because the search for perfection never stops.
What Do You Do With the “Summary” Section?
Maybe we should have mentioned this at the outset of this article, but we’ll do it here. There’s nothing complicated about filling out your LinkedIn information. Just take it one section at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be the owner of a fat and sassy (and complete) profile. The summary section sometimes gives people fits, but it doesn’t need to. Here’s what you need to do.
Pick five or six of your biggest professional achievements and list them in bullet point style. This would be a perfect place to practice that thing we told you about putting yourself in the reader’s shoes. Every achievement you list should be laser-focused on how you make Mr Reader’s life easier. If you’re a good speaker or awesome presenter, don’t be afraid to include audio or video files.
Speaking of Media
It’s been proven so many times that it almost seems a waste of time to mention, but people love to watch videos online more than reading text or staring at simple images. Use this nugget of information when building your profile. We just mentioned how you should consider doing so within the confines of the summary section, but don’t feel constrained to using media in that area alone. Anywhere LinkedIn offers the option to jazz that profile up with a video or audio clip, or even imagery, which is better than straightforward text, consider doing so.
An often overlooked option is to include documents such as examples of work, product papers you’ve written, etc. Anything that goes above and beyond the confines of a standard (and often limiting) traditional resume is a good thing.
Fill Out ALL the Profile
It’s tempting to leave out some sections. Does anyone care about volunteer associations, education, skills? Umm, yes they do. It’s not so much the fact you served Thanksgiving meals to the homeless will snag you a job over another candidate, but it does present you like a more well-rounded and real person. Maybe you wrote a book or like to dress up as King Arthur at Renaissance festivals. This makes you a more interesting person than someone who comes home, sits down and stares at a blank wall until it’s time to go to work again.
Don’t Leave Out the Links
LinkedIn allows you to list three links along with your profile. If you have suitable online real estate that promotes your brand, this is the space to use them. Keep it targeted though. Linking to a professional blog or portfolio is a good thing. Linking to your other blog full of expletive-laced political rants, or the aforementioned cat videos are not.
Recommendations vs. Endorsements
LinkedIn offers the opportunity to build your profile’s recognition through endorsements or recommendations from your network. Both are nice, but the latter is what you really want. A recommendation is when a member of your network writes glowing words of praise for you. Think of it as a review. These things carry a lot of weight in LinkedIn World and should not be ignored. And, yes, it’s okay to be proactive and ask someone to write one for you. Of course, it would be nice if you returned the favour.
The Bottom Line
Do you want to know the secret to LinkedIn success? The one single action that will make all your wildest dreams come true? It’s simple. Stay active on the website. Work on growing your network and then interact with them. Though business oriented, this is still SOCIAL media, and it only works if you get in there and mix it up.
Did we miss anything obvious? Here’s where we would love to invite you to share your favourite LinkedIn trick that drives traffic to your blog or website.