Of the social networking tools available, there is one that professional services firms shouldn’t overlook: LinkedIn. Sure, there are plenty of other important Internet marketing players: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Yelp are widely known and have a great deal of marketing value. I have used all of these sites to varying degrees. But for professionals who need to maximize their time spent on social media marketing, LinkedIn shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s true that a LinkedIn profile is organized a bit like a resume, but LinkedIn goes far beyond jobseeking or recruiting purposes. I think of it as a multi-pronged tool that offers numerous benefits.
Here are my top 3 reasons why I encourage clients to have an active LinkedIn presence:
- Build top-of-mind awareness for your brand. It’s great to create a LinkedIn profile, but actively using LinkedIn means that you’re sharing some content via status updates, sharing articles or promoting your own hosted events. All of this content keeps your name front and center in your network’s news feed. And when you’re sharing useful information that’s relevant to your expertise, you get the benefit of frequency and branding rolled into action. [Tips: Everything in moderation. Don’t publish useless information or annoying “here’s what’s on my task list today” updates. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Be relevant, helpful and informative. Strive for weekly updates.]
- Improve search engine rankings. I would love to give credit to whoever coined the phrase “Google Juice.” I can’t take credit, but it’s true that LinkedIn profiles have amazing search engine optimization value. Try searching your own name in Google or any other search engine. If you have a LinkedIn profile already, that profile is very likely to be the top result. This is great news if you are using your LinkedIn profile to the fullest. Visitors can check out your profile, and immediately learn about you, your services and understand what makes you unique. They can also quickly identify how to visit your website and click through from the profile. This is why it’s critical to at least put some thought into the summary, headline, and skills portions of your profile. [Tips: Think about how humans search for information online. Your official title may be “Principal” but that could be true for many industries. Make it clear in your headline and summary who you are and what you do. And don’t forget a photo! Put a face to your name. A LinkedIn profile without a photo looks unfinished.]
- Form new relationships. A LinkedIn “connection” may be a colleague you know well or someone you’ve never met who is a peer in your industry. As you build your network of connections, find ways to turn some of those connections into relationships. Social networking shouldn’t be completely online. It’s an online tool that opens the door to new working relationships, so use the online introduction as a mechanism for taking that relationship offline with a face-to-face meeting. Use LinkedIn’s email message box to send follow-up thank you emails or invite key connections to events. [Tips: Quality over quantity. Be strategic about your network. Don’t use the default LinkedIn language for requesting a connection. Edit it to something personal. If you’ve never met them, explain why you want to connect. “I’m a marketing consultant looking to connect with other graphic designers in the Portland area. Do you mind joining my network?”]
Social media has changed the way we do business. But it hasn’t replaced the value of face-to-face relationships. Clients won’t buy your services based upon your LinkedIn profile alone, but it’s an excellent tool for building familiarity, credibility and initiating an in-person meeting.
In a future blog post, I’ll cover LinkedIn profiles in more detail. By comparing and contrasting a good profile from the bad, you’ll see how a little extra thought and effort can pay big dividends.