If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of LinkedIn is cookie-cutter corporate messaging and shameless self-promotion. Well, let’s debunk those out-of-date perceptions! LinkedIn is actually extremely useful for small (or large) businesses looking to expand their reach and increase website referral traffic – all it takes is a little bit of TLC.
- Every second, two new professionals join LinkedIn. That’s more than 10,000 people per day!
- The site is the largest professional network, with more than 175 million users from over 200 countries. This number is still growing – in 2011 the membership increased by 45 percent worldwide.
- 40 percent of all LinkedIn members reside in the United States. India comes in second place, with 8 percent of all LinkedIn members.
- More than two million companies have LinkedIn company pages.
Now that we know how influential LinkedIn can be, let’s look at how to capitalize on these numbers. Below are simple steps that your company and your fellow employees can take to maximize your LinkedIn potential.
- Complete your profile. While this seems like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how many people are missing key elements from their LinkedIn profiles.
The first thing you should do is secure a “vanity” URL so others can easily find your page, e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/caitlinfcrowley. You can set up a custom URL through your page settings – reserve your URL early before someone else takes your name!
Be sure that your profile displays the most accurate and up-to-date information. Did you get a promotion last year? Add it to your profile! Did you just win an award? Add it to your profile! Including as much detail as possible about your accomplishments makes you (and your company) credible, more marketable and more searchable.
- Recommend others. You may know the importance of collecting recommendations for your own profile, but the act of doling out recommendations to others (without being asked to do so) is underrated. If you’ve worked with a vendor who did an outstanding job, or have a client who is a blast to work with, recommend them for their hard work. This builds goodwill and might just get you a recommendation of your own in return.
- Take advantage of the “backlinks” to increase website SEO. This is a little-known secret to take advantage of some of LinkedIn’s profile settings.
Here’s how it works:
Under “Additional Information” on your profile page, click “edit.” This will take you to the back-end of your LinkedIn page where you can insert your custom websites. For your websites, select “Other” (as shown below) from the drop-down menu. In the next field, type in some SEO keywords for your company website, such as “Marketing and Public Relations” or “Financial Asset Management.” In the third and final field, type in the URL.
- Update your company’s status – daily. LinkedIn company pages are becoming more and more widespread, and an easy way to outshine the competition is by keeping your page current and chock-full of content. Post interesting articles, industry-related blog posts and breaking company news to your LinkedIn page on a daily basis. Daily posts and engaging content position your brand as an industry leader. Your LinkedIn page traffic will increase and (if you’ve implemented those backlinks we talked about) your overall web traffic will see a spike as well.
- Install applications. LinkedIn has many add-ons and applications that you can use to beef up your profile. My personal favorite is Reading List by Amazon, which allows you to share your book list with others in your industry. Other useful applications include Blog Link, which displays your blog roll at the bottom of your profile page, and My Travel by TripIt, which lets you share your travel plans with others and view colleague’s upcoming trips as well. My Travel is especially useful for pursuing sales leads or networking with clients if you’re always on the road. When the app tells you you’re in the same city as one of your connections, message that person and plan to meet up.
This process links these keywords with the web address, increasing your Google search engine optimization. The backlinks can be used for a company web address or for your personal blog or portfolio; you can promote any website you like!
Now that you have all the tips you need to get your LinkedIn profile up and running, it’s time to connect! Remember to only connect with people whom you’re acquainted with; LinkedIn will shut down your profile if too many connection invitations are rejected. Use a custom message to introduce yourself and make every connection personal.
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– Caitlin Crowley, account manager