Build your business and brand on LinkedIn

How You Can Build Your Business and Brand on LinkedIn

As I’ve built my business, two digital tools have been invaluable: my blog and LinkedIn. I was heartened to learn in a recent survey that of the Fortune 500 CEOs who use social media, 70% choose LinkedIn as their one social network. So LinkedIn is definitely where I want to be active and maybe you should be, too.

Can You Get Business?

linkedin-58Almost everyone I encounter who is finally getting serious about LinkedIn asks me the same question: Have I gotten business directly from LinkedIn?

The short answer: Yes. My participation on LinkedIn does bring in queries and revenue that continues to grow. Mostly, members ask for my help in defining their brands and updating their Professional Headlines and Summaries.

The longer answer: Yes, but my active involvement on LinkedIn has been equally important in making connections and building my brand. Do those things, and I believe the revenue will follow. My targets are B2B companies, an audience where LinkedIn shines. Some 92% of B2B companies have a LinkedIn profile, more than any other network.

But simply tossing up a profile and a bare-bones resume isn’t going to do it. You’ve got to be actively making connections.

Here’s how to leverage your participation in LinkedIn:

Your Profile

LinkedIn personal photograph in ProfileI cringe when I see so many profiles with simply a name and blank head where a photo should be. That can be terribly damaging to your professional image. If you don’t want to take the time to flesh out your profile, you would be wise to drop your membership. Really.

Your Professional Headline and Summary are the most important elements of your Profile. They should contain the key words that people are searching and define your personal and/or corporate brand. LinkedIn keeps adding new features that enable you to toot your own horn, like Posts where you can publish your own content.

You can also upload slide presentations from SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn), your resume, videos, and other important documents. There isn’t any other social network, in my view, that enables you to build such a robust profile of who you are and what you offer.

Making Connections

LinkedIn is all about connecting with other professionals for your mutual benefit. You can import your address book and begin to invite people you know to connect. LinkedIn supplies a default invitation that reads; “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

But it’s considered bad form to use the default invitation without giving the person you’re inviting a reason to connect. Many members automatically delete these invitations. Here’s a post I wrote about How to write a LinkedIn invitation that can help you get started. I encourage you to use a personalized invitation going forward if you’ve already started making connections.

Updates

You should actively post updates to your profile, which are distributed to your 1st Connections. These updates can be original content or links to your blog posts and other articles. I check my network’s updates regularly.

When I learn that someone has been promoted or taken a new job, I send a note. I even comment when connections post new images in their profiles. That always gets a happy response: You loved my new photo?!  Each new contact is an opportunity to exchange ideas, set up dates for coffee, and talk business.

Not too long ago I congratulated someone on her new job. I had worked with her years ago as co-chair of a committee in our association. She wrote back that we should get together in the New Year because she could use my help.

To Contributor LinkedIn

Groups

I belong to almost 50 groups. Depending on the topic, I share my blog posts with the appropriate groups to spark conversations and to help drive traffic to my website.

When I started my blog, LinkedIn was my greatest source of traffic. Over time, I’ve risen in Google rankings so search now drives most of my traffic, but I still receive dozens a visits a month from LinkedIn users, and some have become subscribers and clients.

One caveat: LinkedIn Group owners are becoming stricter about what you can post, as they are getting too much spam that is masquerading as content.

One IT consultant in the WordPress Group was so helpful when I was having a problem with my blog that I that I eventually retained him as my webmaster — that was about four years ago and we’re still together.

So don’t consider LinkedIn as simply a source of business. You can also identify consultants and vendors — and they, in turn, can refer clients to you.

Bloggers Helping Bloggers, yet another subgroup, is a community of bloggers. We share tips and comment on one another’s blogs (which is good for SEO). I’ve collaborated with members of this group on projects and exchanged guest posts. I’ve known several of them for years and consider them friends as well as colleagues.

Discussions

Start and comment on Group discussions. I innocently started a discussion about how companies terminate employees in the largest human-resources group on LinkedIn and it generated an explosion of comments — which got me ranked as one of the group’s Top Contributors for four straight weeks. I’ve achieved that ranking in several groups.

Posting comments in discussions can be very helpful in building your visibility and brand. Because then what happens? Bingo: new connections, new business inquiries and possible job leads.

Company Accounts

LinkedIn started Company accounts a few years ago. They were slow to take hold at first.

But now most major companies have fairly robust accounts where they can share updates and employees/alumni can connect. I have a Write Speak Sell account, but I direct visitors to my Profile page where I am most active as an entrepreneur. Depending on your business, you can decide which will work best for you.

Job Board

LinkedIn no doubt has the most successful job board of any social network. Recruiters from the largest to the smallest companies post their jobs on LinkedIn, as do recruiting firms. If you’re looking for new position, start with LinkedIn. I can name colleagues who have gotten great jobs through LinkedIn

If you need to hire someone, you will have a rich field of candidates to choose from.

You can also get business from LinkedIn as many companies advertise well-paying projects.

Advertising

Of course, we can’t forget that LinkedIn is also an advertising vehicle. It’s a publicly held business, like Facebook and Twitter, with a fiduciary responsibility to provide a return to investors. So we will see more ads on LinkedIn over time. Right now, paid job listings are their principal source of revenue.

You can test drive their Targeted Advertising program which offers Sponsored Updates (similar to promoted Tweets on Twitter), text and image ads, video ads, and/or text only ads.

Give to Get

Many LinkedIn users abandon their accounts because there isn’t an immediate payoff in business. That’s a mistake. You’ve got to give first. Join a group and become part of the conversations. Start making friends. I’ve referred members to my connections, and I’ve referred my webmaster to several colleagues, who have become his clients. I know he’ll do the same for me.

I think of my LinkedIn connections — many of whom I didn’t know before I joined — as my business family. We all pitch in to help each other. It’s like planting seeds in a garden: eventually they’ll grow into new business or a better job.

But first you’ve got to establish yourself on LinkedIn before you can reap the rewards.

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    • Pat — yes, indeed, we did meet on LinkedIn and published an ebook together which I’m using a subscriber incentive. Glad to know you!

  1. This is all pretty sound advice about how to use LinkedIn. While the service has put a lot of effort into making it a go to place for all types of content, what it really is good at is making connections. I never go to LinkedIn for news or to browse my home page to see what my connections are posting, I really used it to connect with people who I may partner with in some way or otherwise do business with.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..Americans Discover Vacation: With an Agency Itinerary and a Guidebook in HandMy Profile

    • Ken — making connections is at the heart of the LinkedIn experience. That’s one reason why it’s my preferred social network.

    • You’re welcome, Lenie. I think it’s important to choose the social network that works best for you and not try to be active on all of them or you will drive yourself crazy!

  2. As you know, I agree with you Jeannette and am also doing what you are doing, apart from having a company account. Why don’t I? For the simple reason that my company name is the same as my name. Have to add that I don’t accept connection requests from companies for the simple reason that some shady people hide behind a company name.

    People find me on LinkedIn for all kinds of things and it works very well. Recently a top global businessman found me. Turned out we have friends in common and he introduced me to a businessman in Sweden that could be of interest for business. Headhunters frequently find me. But I have to say when it comes to getting assignments I have never got anything from LinkeIin. Believe, maybe wrongly, that for that it’s best to be in the US. Have had a multitude of proposals to do business from members of LinkedIn all over the world. But if I had accepted it’s 99% sure I would have been taken to the cleaners:-)
    Catarina recently posted..Do you turn customers into promoters?My Profile

    • Catarina – thanks for sharing your experience. I, too, receive many dubious sales pitches. Unfortunately, as you know, there is a lot of spam now on all the social networks that is a continuing problem. That’s why it’s important to select your connections carefully.

  3. Linked In has been a great resource for me…Indeed we met here Jeanette, and I have become such a fan of your blog. I became a subscriber. As an author, I am still struggling with the appropriate ways to make it work better for me, but then authors, while having a product, face different kinds of challenges. That said, my Google analytics tell me that most of referrals to my blog posts are from LinkedIn. As usual, I enjoyed these tips immensely:)
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted..A Cold… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Thanks, Jacquie, and I enjoy your blog so much, too. My second source of referrals after search engines is LinkedIn, too. When I first started blogging five years ago my LinkedIn traffic — even though there were far fewer members — was huge. But there are so many more members and such a flood of information and so many groups that my traffic from LinkedIn has slowed down, which is not surprising.

  4. I’m finding it hard to add anything new to what you’ve already said. As you know I have big participator and believer in LinkedIn. I too cringe when I see the black avatar on a profile. it makes me wonder what they are hiding or what they might be afraid of. Fo me it all about positively participating and communicating. When we do that well the benefits are huge. Just my thoughts. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Summer of Dragons: #StoryMy Profile

  5. Thanks Jeannette for all that good advice. Whenever I read a post like this it helps me to double my efforts and refocus in the areas that will be of most benefit to me. Thank you.
    Tim recently posted..Population OneMy Profile

    • Tim – I know it’s hard to focus. It seems like there is something new every day that we just have to try out.

  6. Nearly all the invitations I receive to connect on LinkedIn are generic. I have rarely received a personalized message. In fact, more recently, I have started receiving invitations from folks whose businesses are not even remotely related to mine, nor do they offer services that are useful to me. Of course, I did not accept those invitations and, this is not always the case. I have also found some work and some clients using the LinkedIn platform. I have three preferred forms of social media and LinkedIn is one of them.

    • Michele — I receive many generic invitations, too, from people that I can’t imagine connecting to. But even people I know well have sent me the generic invitation, which I think is still impolite. Not so much as a “hello, how are you?”

  7. My LinkedIn profile has been decent for a couple of years, but I recently gave it an overhaul along with my new blog theme. The LinkedIn BHB group definitely played a role in some decisions I’ve made as I’ve morphed into a freelancing career, and this year I plan to spend more time on the site focusing on possible business prospects. I too delete the generic invites. LI is still one of the last social media sites where I am super-picky about adding people. Am I crazy for actually wanting professional connections that know a thing our two about me? Haha.
    Jeri recently posted..#WriteTip: 5 Sites for Creating Word CloudsMy Profile

    • Jeri — I think LinkedIn will be a good source for your editing business. I just searched freelance editing jobs and quite a few came up. Everyone needs their content edited!

  8. Good advice. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a long time, but admit I haven’t made much use of ii. Since joining the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group, I’ve become a little more active and have joined a couple of other groups as well. I’m learning more about the ways to use LinkedIn. I don’t see how you manage to be active in 50 groups though.

    • Donna — While I belong to 50 groups I’m not active in all of them. I post my blogs to the appropriate groups depending on the topic. I’m careful not to “spam” groups with unrelated content because group owners are cracking down on that.

  9. Great article. I know many who still believe that LinkedIn is just a place to dump your online resume. When I tell them that the majority of my clients come through LinkedIn they do not believe me until you explain groups, connections, responding to each other, etc. Than the quarter drops into the machine and you hope it rolls out the right selected action plan. Anyway, this is a great read especially for those new to the platform.

    Cheers!

    • Alice — I’m glad that you, too, find LinkedIn so helpful to your business. For me, it’s definitely the place to be.

  10. Very nice advice to use Linked In effectively and make something out of it.

    It is nice to know that you have developed a lot of connections from Linked In groups.

    I believe that BHB is an amazing group.

    All the best with your business.
    andleeb recently posted..Let’s Practice Patience.My Profile

    • andleeb -.- I think the BHB group is amazing, too, and I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve received.

  11. Great post Jeannette. You know I’m a fervent fan of LinkedIn! I’ve got lots of business from it too. One thing I’ve been lazy about is to build a company page. I’m doing well in my one-man online business – a travel website. Do you recommend to initiate a page for the website or continue as I thrive with the profile page? IS it professional to do that while company page is there?
    Rahman Mehraby recently posted..Happy New Year & Destination Iran’s Resolution for 2015!My Profile

    • Rahman — You might consider doing what I’ve done. I had a LinkedIn profile for years before LinkedIn initiated Company pages. I decided to put up a Company page with my basic information and then direct people to my Profile for my updates. If you’re doing well with your Profile page then I’d stick with it but you’re also covered if someone searches your company name.

  12. I’ve been on LinkedIn for quite awhile though I pulled back for a few months when it seemed every connection I approved immediately pitched me on their opportunity. Personally I like to participate in groups where there is more discussion than blog posts and there are some groups where the only activity is blog posts. Overall though I have to agree I’ve made some great connections and learned in the process.
    Marquita Herald recently posted..The Good, the Bad and the Stupid of Being Relentlessly PatientMy Profile

    • Marquita — I agree that some groups have more discussions than others. I’ve found that to be particularly true of the HR groups. And I have engaged in some of those conversations but other groups seem to only be filled with blog posts (including mine). But I still get traffic from LinkedIn so someone must be reading them.

    • Beth — I agree that the conversation are more robust on LinkedIn. I, too, have met terrific people on LinkedIn.

  13. Linked In has been great for me in terms of all the great people I’ve met through BHB. I would be in a sorry state without that group to have helped me get started. I’m also in a myriad of other LI groups. But what I find about writers groups there, is that people may comment on the post within linked in, but to my knowledge I haven’t had one comment directly on my blog from there. I think in your situation and for any business person, it’s much more relevant. And yes, it’s really not worth putting yourself up there if you can’t be bothered to include a photograph. You make some really good points here Jeannette. Thanks so much:-)
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..P.D. James – A #Writing Life of CrimeMy Profile

    • A.K. — I’ve had the same experience. People comment on LI but not on the posts on my website. I, too, am so grateful for the BHB group. Great bunch of people!

  14. Hi Jeannette; i love linked in, so thanks a lot for this post. I do have a couple of questions. is there some way i can change my settings so i go back to getting complete email notifications instead of just the first few lines. as a blind computer user having to go to the site every time is a major pain. also, is there a way i could set up a listing on the job board for myself as a coach and speaker? i don’t think i have a company page. I do have a business level page for my profile but that’s it. I really don’t want to do like i did on g plus and have two pages one for the blind blogger and the other for mr. midway. would appreciate any suggestions. thanks and take care my friend, max
    Maxwell Ivey recently posted..16 Benefits of Being Blind — Number 14 is HILARIOUS!My Profile

    • Max — I’m not sure if I’m understanding your question. If LinkedIn forwards a message to your inbox from another member it should show the entire message. You have the option of replying within LinkedIn or simply responding to the email without using the LinkedIn reply function. Here is the link that describes this in LinkedIn’s Help Center http://linkd.in/1KOQWp9. Here is the link about posting a job http://linkd.in/159T5ed. What I’ve done is create a business page with the basics about my business and then direct visitors to my personal profile for more information and my updates. I don’t post updates to my business page. Hope this is helpful!

      • Hi Jeannette; I don’t think i was explaining myself properly. I’m not talking about emails in general but the email notifications from groups. when you get an email alert there is no longer an option to post by replying to it. also, i have done my best to adjust the settings on notifications but my group email alerts only show the first couple of lines. This means I have to go to the group page then find their post and navigate to the link they added there. it was so much easier when i could just click the post link in the email alert. some people have made this easier by putting their site or blog url in their profile so i can go to their site and then click their blog and look for their most recent post. i may be missing something. It wouldn’t be the first time something just wouldn’t click for me. its why i don’t play guitar or speak fluent spanish. lol thanks so much for your help my friend. xoxo max
        Maxwell Ivey recently posted..Calliope Corner episode 4 a malcolm cummings park trainMy Profile

        • Max — I understand now. Do you receive Group updates every day? If so, you might want to change your settings to weekly digests instead of daily. That way you’d only need to go through that arduous process once a week and reply to all the comments that you care to at one time.

          • Max — You must be going bonkers with all those notifications! I’m with you. I need to review my groups, too, and weed out the ones that don’t work for me. Inertia for me, too.