LinkedIn represents your professional identity so it should reflect your current professional situation and projects. You will get the most value from LinkedIn by regularly updating your profile so viewers understand the value you provide as a business person. In the same vein you will want to periodically review your strategy for connecting with others on LinkedIn based on your current business goals.
Business Owners & Professionals
If you are self employed your professional reputation as an individual will often be closely tied to your business brand. This is particularly true for small business owners and professionals. As a business owner make sure you mention your business value proposition in your professional headline and use the Summary to explain how your background and experience contribute to making your business successful. Professionals can show continuing education courses, new publications and other relevant accomplishments on their profile. Along with their educational credentials these updates demonstrate that they are staying current in their profession, something that is more important than ever in this age of rapid change.
Sales & Business Development
If you are in sales or business development it will benefit you to include information on your profile that promotes the value your organization provides to customers and partners. There are two reasons why you should devote some space to mentioning your employer in addition to yourself. First, your potential customers are less interested in your accomplishments than they are in how they will benefit from your employer’s offering. Second, if your income and job security are tied to the revenue you produce, it is worth using some of your LinkedIn real estate to promote the product or service you provide.
If you work in a non-sales related area you can use more space in your Summary, Experience, projects, publications, certifications and other relevant sections to talk about what you are currently involved with as a professional. Of course, we are talking about information that is not proprietary to your employer.
In addition you can regularly post content that brings value to your audience or community. Keep in mind that you do not need to create all of this content yourself. You can share blog posts, case studies, White Papers and videos produced by your organization and similar content produced by others and simply add your opinion about the value of the content.
If you are in sales or business development it will benefit you to post Status Updates and Publisher posts that promote your organization as well as industry related topics and content discussing issues of particular concern to your market. If you are selling to the technology market, content about information security issues or the Internet of Things may be of interest to your audience even if you are not offering products directly related to these areas. The goal is to position yourself as a resource that understands your customers’ industry well beyond the set of problems that your product solves.
If you are not in sales, you can publish and share content as described above as well. This can raise your level of visibility as a professional, demonstrate your expertise in your field and lead to opportunities within your organization as well as externally.
As your career progresses you should update your profile to reflect new accomplishments, positions, publications, certifications and other important additions to the value you offer to your clients and your industry.
In terms of connection strategy, there is no one size that fits all. An individual in marketing or public relations will be interested in reaching a broad audience within their industry or target market. Therefore a large LinkedIn network can serve them well.
A sales professional may choose to have a smaller network of contacts which includes their personal network plus clients, prospects, strategic alliance partners and other selected types of connections.
Managing Your Network
A downside of having a large LinkedIn network is that it becomes harder to manage as it grows. You can organize your connections by Tags. This is a manual process and therefore time consuming, but it is well worth the effort. If you have someone you can delegate this to, so much the better.
Regardless of the size of your network you probably have a small group of people with whom you have a close, trusting professional relationship. Though these are individuals you regularly communicate with in person, by phone or text, also make sure you are connected with them on LinkedIn.
A business owner may want to include employees, Board members, customers, suppliers, investors, professional services providers, and media contacts in their LinkedIn network.
A job seeker may expand the number of recruiters they are connected with. They should also make a concerted effort to find past classmates and colleagues who are employed by organizations of interest to them and ensure they have their friends and family in their network. Since most jobs are found through networking, it is important to be connected with those who are most willing to help you find your next position.
A professional in a specialized field such as research can connect with their peers, professionals in related fields, and media contacts in their industry. They will find LinkedIn Groups to be a valuable source of information, answers to questions and new connections.
As you move to new opportunities you should adjust your LinkedIn connection strategy accordingly. The types of people that will be most valuable to you will change along with changes in your business or career. It is a good idea to review your approach to LinkedIn each time your business objectives change or at least once a year.
How do you approach keeping your LinkedIn profile current and fresh? Please let us know.
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