By Caitlin Zucal.
Think you don’t have enough time for social media? Or, are just you not sure how to use it to achieve your business goals? LinkedIn doesn’t have to be complicated; what it comes down to is understanding the three best practices that allow you to build and maintain a successful presence.
Create a Complete Profile
LinkedIn is the social media platform everyone recommends to be on if you are serious about your career. This is especially true in the financial services industry. However, if your profile only contains the bare minimum of information, you may be doing more harm than good. Consider LinkedIn a virtual first impression. Would you want a client, partner or prospect looking at a half empty profile? Of course not! No matter what industry you work in or job title you have, it is important to strive for a LinkedIn presence that illustrates who you are as a professional, showcasing the talents, skills and expertise that set you apart from the rest.
Therefore, creating a complete profile is crucial for LinkedIn success. Begin by using aprofessional photo and include strong, industry-focused keywords in your tagline and Skills section that will boost your profile in search result rankings. When building out the Experience portion, share not only the responsibilities that were/are required by your job, but also what you learned along your career path. Remember to also strengthen your profile by sharing what is important to you as a person, not just a professional. LinkedIn has a Volunteer Experience and Causes section where users can list any organizations they are involved with.
Also, don’t forget to keep your profile current. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a resume you are presenting during a job interview – you want it to make a powerful impression when interacting with prospects and gaining new business opportunities.
Build Quality Connections
LinkedIn is known as “the business network” – networking and building relationships should be the number one goal of every individual using the social platform. Therefore, connection numbers can definitely make a great impression on someone viewing your profile. However, it is important to take online networking seriously, remembering that the quality of your connections is more important than the number.
Also, as a best practice, when sending or receiving an invitation, write something personal to the individual you want to connect with instead of sending the standardized LinkedIn message. Taking that extra step will immediately build a personal relationship based on communication. By creating a dialogue and sharing experiences and interests with industry peers, you are making the most of your LinkedIn experience. Remember, this dialogue can make all the difference when turning to a connection for an introduction with an important prospect.
Filling out the various sections is not the sole component to a complete profile. You must also take an active approach to LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a networking event or party; the person standing in the corner abstaining from conversation is not going to come out of the situation with many leads. However, those who are engaged, introducing themselves and sharing experiences are the ones who are going to have the leads. This does not mean every minute of the day must be spent online. In order to find success, take some time each day to share recent news pieces you found interesting, inviting your connections to share what they thought of the article. Or, join a conversation in an industry-oriented LinkedIn group. Lastly, at the end of the day, try to reach out to someone and build a connection. That kind of engagement allows you to not only build a strong profile, but also expand your reach and demonstrate thought leadership.