LinkedIn has proven itself to be the premier social network for professional networking, sales, and lead generation efforts. And over the last two years, it’s also been working hard to become the source for business-related content online.
For all these reasons, if you’re responsible for your company’s inbound marketing efforts, it’s vital that you not only understand LinkedIn in general, but that you take full advantage of the tools and resources it makes available to up your game, get in front of more eyeballs, and build your business the right way.
Your Handshake, Headshot, Resume, Portfolio, and Elevator Speech All in One
At this point, 15 years into the 21st century, a crack sales pro from the Seventies would be lost. These days, the sales meeting has all but disappeared and the sales call has changed dramatically. Prospecting and “working the room” are so different than they used to be, it takes a completely different skill set to effectively market and sell today than it did just 30 or 40 years ago.
One perfect example is your LinkedIn Profile.
Your profile on LinkedIn serves as the portal through which most if not all of your potential leads, prospects, and customers are going to view you. Whether you actually connect initially on LinkedIn, meet in the real world and exchange business cards (yes, they still kind of exist,) or they run across your profile by chance as they’re searching for information, professionals looking for help from other professionals will likely use LinkedIn at some point.
Whereas a firm handshake, a confident smile, a solid resume or portfolio, and a knock-their-socks-off elevator speech used to be required for a successful salesperson, all these jobs and more are now handled by your LinkedIn Profile.
For that reason, your profile needs to be the very best it can be in order to maximize your chances of making a good impression, engaging with more prospects, and closing more deals.
How to Audit Your LinkedIn Profile for Maximum Inbound Marketing Success
To make the most of this powerful online portal, and use it to enhance your inbound marketing efforts especially, it’s vital to audit your current profile and optimize it to make the very best impression, show up well and often in search, and move visitors along the inbound funnel to further engagement.
Here is a quick but comprehensive five-step process to audit your LinkedIn profile:
- Visuals: Be sure you’ve included a professional-looking, high-quality headshot as your profile picture. This isn’t Facebook: a cute picture of your kids or your dog won’t work, and neither will that shot in your bikini from your honeymoon in Cancun. Also, locate a professional but eye-catching image to use as a background for the top of the profile. Many companies choose a creative take on their logo or other memorable company-related “landmark” and do a good job of using that to visually tie their employees together online.
- Your Name: When your profile shows up in a search, your name, position/headline, and current company are the first things visitors will see. They also take front and center in big bold type at the top of your profile when it’s viewed. So this real estate is important. Be sure your name is spelled properly and in the form you want your customers to use. (If you’d prefer they call you Robert, don’t put Bobby on your profile.)
- Your Title/Headline: Be sure your current title is accurate (this is not the time to be cute by calling yourself a marketing ninja or something else silly like that), but also try to include a keyword your prospects are likely to use when searching for what you do. In my case, for example, my official title at SPROUT is “Content Developer”, but on LinkedIn I’m a “content marketing specialist” because “content marketing” is more likely to be in our prospects’ searches than “content developer”. If you can do so naturally, include a keyword attached to your company name. (Ex: SPROUT Content, Inbound Marketing Agency and HubSpot Gold Partner)
- Your Summary: The summary section is your chance to step out of the strict resume-style arrangement of a barebones LinkedIn profile and really speak to your visitors. It’s also a prime location for SEO since Google scans the summary and headline along with your name, but doesn’t seem to put much attention on any other specific part of the profile. Speak naturally, conversationally, and honestly to your visitors. Tell them about you, but make it about them. What can you do to help them? What’s the best way for them to contact you? Where can they go for more information? Use keywords. Load it up with good info, but keep it as short as you can while getting the message across. Don’t rush through this. It’s important.
- Everything Else: The rest of the items you decide to add to your profile will be dictated by your own specific circumstances and goals. Remember that, unless you’re actively searching for a new job, things like your education and past jobs should be given less attention than what you’re working on right now, what projects you’ve recently completed, and what your current company can do to help prospects today. Take full advantage of the multimedia options available in most sections to include Slideshare decks, videos, documents, and other visual enhancements that add spark and flavor to your profile, but be careful not to overload it with bells and whistles too.
If you’re one of many key people in your organization, be sure to pass this list along to them as well because LinkedIn is a great place to establish a unified and cohesive brand message across the company, as well as a great place to strategically share content and network as a team.
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