In the last year, LinkedIn has made a lot of exciting changes to their platform for both professional profiles and company pages. LinkedIn is a great network for businesses looking to increase traffic and leads, as well as individuals looking to market their expertise for new career opportunities. In this post, we’re going to look at everything you need to have a successful LinkedIn experience.
Setting Up Your Professional Profile
The first step in establishing your LinkedIn presence is creating your professional profile. There are many sections that you can take advantage of to fully define your professional skills. Let’s look at the ones that will help you make the best first impression.
LinkedIn frowns upon using anything in your name field other than your name. Hence, this is not the place to try to rank for keywords.
Your headline is the next most important section of your LinkedIn profile because it shows up in several places throughout LinkedIn, starting with search results and employee listings on company pages…
Invitations to connect…
In popups when someone hovers over your image…
And other areas throughout LinkedIn. This makes it the ideal place to keyword optimize your LinkedIn profile for search. Think of it as the way people will distinguish you from others when they are searching for job candidates, business partners, customers, or other professionals to connect with.
One of the unfortunate parts of the new LinkedIn profile design is the fact that your websites are now hidden in the Contact Info.
People looking for your contact info will still see it along with your Twitter handle, so be sure to update this section anyway with the information you want others to see.
The summary section of your LinkedIn profile allows you to enter a summary of your professional experience and expertise. You have a few paragraphs to describe yourself to a prospective employer, partner, customer, or connection. Think about what would you say to them in real life.
LinkedIn has also recently introduced options to add media to your Summary section. You can add YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, and other media (images, videos, audio, presentations, and documents) from these service providers. Mari Smith uses her media to establish expertise and branding.
There are about 101 different ways professionals can use visual profile elements to market themselves.
- Speakers can link to presentations from Slideshare to show topics they cover and videos from YouTube to show clips from their latest speaking engagements.
- Graphic & web designers can link to Behance to show off their portfolio.
- Consultants who help businesses build traffic for websites can link to Quantcast profiles for the sites they have helped.
- Entrepreneurs can link to their Kickstarter project to encourage more funding for their ideas.
- Podcasters can link to their best podcasts.
- Photographers can link to their best portfolio photos on Pinterest.
- Authors can link to documents with writing samples.
The list is endless…
Current and Past Job Experience
Your current and past job experience is another area that LinkedIn uses to determine what keywords your profile should rank for. It also comes up in some other areas of LinkedIn like search results and employee listings on company pages. Therefore, it’s a good idea to utilize keywords that you want to rank for in the job position titles and descriptions. For example, Jason Alba wants to rank for LinkedIn. Here is one of his job experiences.
Usage of LinkedIn in this section definitely helps him rank for LinkedIn. You don’t want to go too overboard with keywords in your job experience section, however. LinkedIn highlights any keywords you search when you go to someone’s profile. You won’t want someone to find a profile that looks like this.
This profile in particular using the phrase “internet marketing” 305 times with 82 of the above shown job descriptions. Surprisingly, there are no recommendations. Yes, it worked at ranking him for internet marketing. It also tells everyone who runs into his profile that he is good at keyword stuffing and who he’s done it for.
You can also utilize the visual profile features to add media to each of your job experiences. It might be a cleaner way to add more keywords to your profile.
Others will have the chance to add recommendations to your profile based on your job experience listings. We will cover ways to boost your recommendations shortly!
Skills & Expertise
This is where you can really add some keyword boost to your profile. Add your main skills to the section to be endorsed by others. Endorsements are much easier to attain than recommendations. When people visit your profile, they will be prompted to endorse you for skills that are listed on your profile.
This is why it is crucial to add skills to your LinkedIn profile. Visitors to your profile can endorse you for multiple skills with one click! Your profile may even come up after someone endorses connections with similar skills.
Visitors then can see all of the skills that others have endorsed you for.
You will receive notifications when others endorse you, giving you the opportunity to return the favor if you so choose.
You can essentially drive up your own endorsements by giving them to others when prompted.
If you’re not sure what skills to add to your profile, you can visit the Skills & Expertise page and start typing in keywords.
Each page will have a list of related skills to the left along with professionals who have that particular skill.
You can click on the See Suggested Skills button on any of these pages to see skills that LinkedIn thinks you should add to your profile.
You can also go directly to Your Skills & Expertise page for these suggestions. Note that you can only list 50 skills, so be sure to choose them carefully. If you notice some that are not applicable or have a low endorsement rate, remove them to make room for more relevant ones.
If you have written reports, whitepapers, or books, you can add them to your publications section. This section is unique because you can include a direct link to your publications on your website, Amazon, or any other site you choose. This can help you draw attention anything you’ve written, including free ebooks you use as lead magnets for your mailing list.
While the above are the most important sections, they are not the only ones. You’ll also be able to add the following to your professional profile. Any sections you haven’t taken advantage of yet will show up in the right side of your screen when you go to edit your profile.
- Honors & Awards
- Test Scores
- Volunteering & Causes
Organizing Your Sections
Want one section you have listed to go above another? When you go to edit your profile, you will see arrows at the top right of each section that you use to rearrange your sections. For example, if you have a lot of endorsements for your skills, but not an impressive job history, you can place the Skills & Expertise section first, the Summary second, and other sections before your Experience section. Authors can place Publications first, college graduates can place Education first, and so on to emphasize your best background elements up front.
Updating Your Professional Profile
You can make status updates on your professional profile similar to the way you would on Facebook and Google+. You can share links as well as tag people and companies relevant to your update.
Using the Share link beneath your status update, you can gain more exposure by also sharing the same update with the groups you belong to. We will discuss that more in the groups section.
Growing Your Network
Once you have set up your professional profile, you will want to start building your network by connecting with others. First, you will want to see who you already know on LinkedIn using your email address book.
You can also use the people you may know browser to find more connections based on the people in your network.
Once you have exhausted the list of people LinkedIn thinks you know, you can branch out to others. LinkedIn encourages you to only connect with people you really know, and they will suspend your ability to connect with people if you send invitations to people who flag you as someone they do not know. So you have to be really careful about who you send invitations to.
As you go through LinkedIn, you will see different annotations by people that show your connection to them. First degree connections are those people in your network. Second degree connections are those people who are connected to people you are connected to. Third level connections are connections of those second degree connections. People who are in one of your groups are annotated as group.
The next way to connect with others is through groups. When you belong to the same group as someone you want to connect with, you just use the Groups option as how you know that member.
It’s best if you have engaged with them a little first within the group and then send a custom message letting them know that you like their posts and want to connect. You can find new people to connect with in the groups themselves by looking through active discussions or look at a list of groups your desired connection belongs to, join a group, and then connect with them.
You can also attract new connections by linking to your LinkedIn profile on your website and anywhere that allows you to connect to other social networks such as your Google+ profile. You can also occasionally do things like tweet your LinkedIn profile URL or share it on Facebook as a way to gain LinkedIn connections from those networks.
Your next goal once your profile is complete and you are making connections is to get recommendations for your work. These are essentially LinkedIn testimonials that are attached to a specific job experience on your professional profile.
You can visit the Recommendations section to manage the recommendations you have received and given as well as ask your connections for recommendations. While you can ask up to 200 connections at a time to recommend you for a particular job experience or school performance, you will get the best results by personalizing a recommendation request to just one contact.
Just customize the above template, changing the subject line and the body of the message. To maximize your success rate, ask for recommendations from people you have recently worked with or connected with.
I personally like to send a request outside of LinkedIn, especially to people I’m not connected with but have worked with. For example, after I highlighted several businesses I had worked with in a post I wrote, I emailed the business owners to let them know about the mention. Then I asked them for a favor – to connect with me on LinkedIn and give a recommendation. The success rate was 100%!
You can also get recommendations through the reciprocation route. Simply write a recommendation for someone you have worked with in the past. When they receive the recommendation, they will be asked if they want to write one for you in return. Most of the time, if they know you well enough, they will oblige. When others write you recommendations, you should return the favor as well if you know them and can honestly recommend their work.
Another thing to know about recommendations is that you can move them from one job experience to another, but it is a bit tricky and can be time consuming if you have a lot of recommendations. You have to delete the position that the recommendations are listed under. Once they become unassigned recommendations, you can assign them to a different job position.
Using LinkedIn Groups
Earlier, we talked about how you can use LinkedIn groups to connect with others in order to grow your professional network. You can also share status updates with your groups in order to drive traffic back to your website and your blog, although you need to be selective of which groups you share with as some are not as open to members sharing links as others. Sharing your status updates with relevant groups can turn exposure for your update from just your connections to upwards of thousands of LinkedIn members, which makes it well worth it.
The other way you can use LinkedIn groups is by creating one yourself. The value of doing this is you are essentially starting a new mailing list on LinkedIn. Group owners can send group members an announcement once a week. Assuming members have not turned off email notifications, they will receive your announcement straight to their inbox. While it’s not as valuable as having your own email list, it can still help you connect with people you may not have reached otherwise.
The key is to creating a group that your target customers would be interested in. So instead of creating a group called Your SEO Company (which not many will care about unless you are a SEOmoz in the industry), you would create a group like Small Business SEO. This way, small business owners and employees (aka, your target customer base) would join to learn more about SEO. Then you can use your group announcements to regularly email them about things like free ebook downloads, webinars, etc. that can convert your group members into your actual mailing list.
In order to successfully maintain your LinkedIn group, you will need to stay on top of moderating discussions and approving new members. This way, the group will thrive, the members will stay active, and therefore will be more receptive to your group announcement emails.
Exploring Pro Account Features
LinkedIn offers premium accounts for those looking to do more with LinknedIn. Premium accounts are geared towards recruiters, job seekers, sales professionals, and individuals who simply need more information for their business.
Pro account types and features are as follows.
- LinkedIn Premium Business Plus – Plans start at $10.95 per month and allow you to see who has viewed your profile, see full profiles of people you are not connected to, send direct messages to anyone on LinkedIn regardless of connection, get more introductions, let anyone message you, gain access to premium search filters, see more profiles in search results, create saved search alerts, and get a full list of people who can provide a reference for someone you are interested in.
- LinkedIn Premium Talent Finder – Plans start at $39.95 per month and allow you to see who has viewed your profile, give you full network visibility regardless of connection, send direct messages to anyone, and use premium search filters.
- LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium – Plans start at $19.95 and allow you to send direct messages regardless of connection, be a featured applicant when applying to jobs on LinkedIn, get a premium badge so you stand out in search results when recruiters are looking to hire, see who has viewed your profile, and get access to a job seeker group and webinar.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator – Plans start at $15.95 per month and allow you to stay on top of leads with sales alerts, gain access to a lead builder to manage your pipeline, pinpoint leads with premium search filters, see full profiles, see who has viewed your profile, get introductions, and send direct messages to anyone regardless of connection.
For the most part, people are happy with using LinkedIn with the basic, free features. But you can always try the pro features for one month to see if you get any benefits. Be sure to switch the pricing options to monthly instead of annually if you just want to give it a test run.
Setting Up Your Company Page
Whenever you created your professional profile, you may have noticed that some of the companies you worked for popped up.
This is because these companies have created company pages. If your company did not show up as you were typing, then you may need to create a company page. To do so, you can go to Add a Company. You will need an email address at your company’s domain such as email@example.com. LinkedIn will not accept generic email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your company page is created, you can use it to market your business by filling out the following sections.
Basic information about your company in the company page overview section such as the name, description, company size, website, and industry are important as these are the details that will show up when someone hovers over your company name throughout LinkedIn on professional profiles, tagged mentions of your company, and the company news feed when people are following your company’s updates.
You can add additional details about your company in the overview section such as company specialties, featured groups related to the company, and page admins that you want to manage your company page.
You can also add status updates to your company page to drive engagement from your company’s followers (similar to Facebook fans).
Products and Services
The products and services section of your company page allows you to create individual listings for the things your business has to offer.
You can drive a lot of traffic back to your website from this section by adding a banner image with a call to action that links back to your website (as shown above). Within the product details themselves, you can add a link to the page on your website about your product or service, a YouTube video, contacts for people in your company that work directly with that product or service, and encourage people to leave recommendations about that product or service.
This is the most powerful section of your LinkedIn Company Page as far as generating leads and sales. You can also customize your products and services page by creating variations that target specific demographics.
These variations can help you further increase your conversions as people visiting this section of your page will feel like you are talking specifically to them.
If your company is looking to hire, LinkedIn allows you to create a robust careers section for your company page that can include a banner image that clicks through to your website, YouTube videos, and job listings.
Visitors to your company page’s career section will also be shown to people in their network that work in your company, turning those people into recruiters for your business. Potential employees can also apply directly on LinkedIn or be linked back to your website to apply. Job listing fees vary based on the location of your company.
Your company page will have public insights for visitors to your page as well as admin-only insights. Public insights will include information about your employees, companies other visitors have viewed, where employees came from, top skills and expertise, and the most recommended employees from your company.
Admin insights can be viewed when you go to your page and click the Edit button. You will then see tabs for follower insights, page insights, and employee insights.
Within these insights, you can find out your follower demographics, page visitor demographics, page views, product and service page clicks, and other relevant data.
Employee insights is similar to the public insights page with information about your employees.
Advertising with LinkedIn
Want to get more exposure for your business on LinkedIn? Then try LinkedIn Advertising. Compared to Facebook and Twitter Advertising, LinkedIn is usually more expensive. But it also allows you the most advertising options. For example, you can point advertising to your website or your company as well as have up to 15 ad variations.
The best part about LinkedIn advertising is the targeting. You can target your ad based on a LinkedIn user’s location, company, job title, school, skills, group, gender, and age.
For B2B companies, these target options mean you don’t have to spend a lot of advertising budget on the wrong audience. You can target a very specific group of people which will make your clicks more likely to convert. You can learn more about the basics of using LinkedIn Advertising in the KISSmetrics Guide to LinkedIn Ads.
Enhancing Your Website with LinkedIn
You can also add a company follow button to encourage more people to follow your company page.
You can even add a recommendation button on your website asking people to recommend your products and services on your company page.
There are also plugins that you can add to your website to highlight your professional profile, career opportunities, and more details from your company page (similar to a Facebook like box).
Analyzing Your Results
Like any online marketing strategy, you will want to make sure you are looking at your analytics to make sure LinkedIn is both driving you traffic and leading to conversions. Google Analytics Social Reports will help you track direct conversions – traffic that comes to your website from LinkedIn and, within the same visit, converts. KISSmetrics can help you track a visitor from LinkedIn who converts on your website, regardless of whether they convert on their first visit or later.
If you are using LinkedIn Advertising, be sure to use UTML parameters to specifically track the URL’s from your ads. You can view the clicks for these links under Traffic Sources > Campaigns.
Exploring the Top Tools
Want to manage your LinkedIn presence or get additional insights about your LinkedIn activity beyond what LinkedIn offers? Here are some great tools to use!
- Oktopost – Use this tool to schedule status updates to your LinkedIn profile as well as your groups. You can also get statistics about how many clicks you receive on your status updates from your profile and LinkedIn groups. This can give you great insight into which groups are sending you the most traffic.
- Jumplead – Identify visitors coming to your website from LinkedIn, manage your LinkedIn leads, and get real insights.
- Buffer – Schedule status updates for your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profile.
- HootSuite – Publish and schedule status updates to your LinkedIn profile along with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ pages, and other networks.
- SproutSocial – Measure engagement, publish status updates, and analyze activity for your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles.
Congratulations if you made it through this guide! If you apply everything you’ve learned, you should have a great LinkedIn profile and be well on your way to building a targeted LinkedIn network, engaging with your audience, managing your account with terrific tools, and seeing the results of your LinkedIn activity. What else would you like to know about LinkedIn marketing? Please ask your questions in the comments and share your own great LinkedIn tips, tools, and resources.
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About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.