The world of online marketing and personal branding is new for many people. When getting involved in something that is unfamiliar mistakes are bound to happen. LinkedIn is a marketing vehicle that is not new. However, using LinkedIn as a marketing and branding tool is new to many. To successfully use LinkedIn effectively requires planning and a strategy. On this April “Fools Day” here are some LinkedIn marketing and profile building “foolish mistakes” to avoid and some easy to implement solutions.
Mistake: Connecting then immediately selling. LinkedIn is for relationship building and branding. LinkedIn it is not a hard selling tool. Hard or in-your-face selling strategies will lead to being ignored and possibly disconnected, the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish on LinkedIn.
Solution: Be genuine and make personal connections. Connect with others to build relationships and start business focused discussions. Have conversations with people, ask questions and demonstrate expertise and knowledge. This process builds awareness and when done properly, trust. With trust will come opportunities and business.
Mistake: Using LinkedIn’s default message when connecting. Impersonal requests do not carry the same weight as a personal note with more information.
Solution: Connecting to LinkedIn users in a personal way is the best approach. If the person is someone you don’t know well, research them and tailor what you say in the connection request. If you know the person, say somebody you met at a networking event, the same rule applies. Find out more about them and create a personalized and memorable request. Remind the person when and where you met and why you two should connect. This will make you stand out and be remembered by the new potential contact. They will be more likely to accept your request as well. Building professional relationships is why you are on LinkedIn, and being personal and likeable from the first interaction is important.
Mistake: Not giving then asking for recommendations. LinkedIn and the recommendation function is a two-way street; if you don’t give you will not receive. If you do not have recommendations, your profile will not be as robust and effective as it should be.
Solution: An effective approach for acquiring recommendations is to start by giving. Your connections are much more likely to provide you with a recommendation back if you spend the time to write an effective one for them. Doing a recommendation sends the message that you are taking your time and that you are interested in the relationship. LinkedIn helps to facilitate this process by asking the recipient to do a recommendation in return. If this does not prompt a response, contact the individual and see if they will reciprocate. Either way the likelihood of getting a recommendation is increased and you have a new reason to communicate with the contact.
Mistake: Skipping or infrequently providing status updates. LinkedIn users unfortunately don’t use the status feature as often as they should. By not posting updates a user shows that they are not an active member or user of LinkedIn. Simply being inactive is a mistake that must be avoided.
Solution: Update your contacts with LinkedIn status posts regularly. This will allow you to show them what activities you are involved in, who you are getting to know professionally and what articles and information are of interest to you. Users can also tout their accomplishments, authored articles and disseminate media coverage. Update your profile daily or several times each week. The more often you post updates and information the more your contacts will see you and can learn about who you are and what you do.
Mistake: Skipping the summary portion of your profile. Filling out the summary is crucial to being found in search results. An incomplete profile, especially one that focuses only on what you do instead of who you are, can be a problem.
Solution: Every word in your summary counts so make sure to fill out a detailed summary of yourself and what you want to achieve with your LinkedIn profile. Some people choose to use bullet points to highlight activities and services. The design and layout is up to you and may depend on your goals and the industry you are in. Keywords in your profile and your title assist you to come up in internal LinkedIn searches. Business owners, recruiters and consultants will search specific terms, and if you include these terms into your profile the likelihood of you being found by the right people will increase significantly. You will get more views to your profile, and remember each view to your profile is a new business prospect.
Mistake: Not adding past jobs or volunteer work experience. It may not seem important, but adding these will present the best image of who you are. These activities as well as involvement in real world groups and charities demonstrate that you are a person who is interesting and has connections.
Solution: Elaborate on past job history and volunteer work. List as much information about what tasks you accomplished during each venture and what new skills you acquired. For those with limited information or work experience, volunteer activities can help bolster a profile and give business contacts or even recruiters a better idea of who you are and what personal assets you possess.
Mistake: Failing to be active in groups. Not participating in groups hinders a person’s ability to make connections and demonstrate knowledge and leadership.
Solution: Take part in discussions in LinkedIn groups. This activity will help to get you noticed as a thought leader, job seeker or expert. Discussions and sharing information keeps you relevant and visible. Groups are a great place to ask questions, show expertise and enhance credibility.
Mistake: The final and worse mistake you can make is not having a photo or having an unflattering photo connected to your LinkedIn profile.
Solution: Make sure to have a professional and clear picture of yourself on your LinkedIn profile. You are seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo. A missing picture will lead to missed opportunities. A good photo will also help you in real world networking. People you meet will recognize you when you walk into a room. Remember your photo is an important part of your image and your personal brand. You must always present the best image possible in the real world and online.
Take a few minutes to make sure that you never look like a fool on LinkedIn.