LinkedIn has undergone somewhat of an evolution over the last 3 years or so. From a place of egos and grey suits (my opinion!) to a much more human, inclusive and interesting place to hang out.
If you are a creative business or don't see LinkedIn as a place for you and your business, take a moment to read on...you may surprised. Caveat? I don't believe that successful digital marketing is being a busy bee on all socials and doing ALL the digital things to gain success. I reckon it's much better to focus on one or two key platforms for you and your ideal audience.
I guess the first question might be, why use LinkedIn? What is it good for?
Your business is B2B (you serve, or sell to, other businesses), or has a B2B customer segment that you target.
You are an expert, freelancer, coach, consultant etc who is building your reputation and profile among your peers and/or potential customers.
You're in search of potential customers who love to be on LinkedIn so need to hang out in their favourite place.
You are interested in the world of entrepreneurship and business thinking & LinkedIn is a great place to learn more.
You want to keep the employed world door open for future employed/side hustle opportunities if you want or need them.
Now that we get why being on LinkedIn might work for you, and hopefully reassured you that it's a friendly, human place to be, I'll share some ideas and tips to help you get what you want from the platform.
Start with understanding a profile vs a page. A profile is your account about you as an individual & the key place to start. LinkedIn is a place for people to meet people. However, you can also set up a business/company page so that you can link it to you as the owner/manager/director etc and help signpost any interested folks to it.
Starting with your profile, think image first. It's really worth getting a pro picture taken if you can. You want an open face that is your natural 'you' with good lighting and very little background. You don't need to be in a suit but also not a snapshot from your holidays. Make it clear, recognisable and front facing.
You can also have a 'cover picture' or banner that sits at the top of your profile [pro tip - use Canva.com to create one]. This is super useful to add your logo and/or your key message or strapline. If you're not planning on a page just yet, you want to add your website or a QR code to your website.
Get your bio/profile words right and super human. You have a 'headline' to write which needs to be less job title and more you. That is, you might want to say what you do but start with what your mission or purpose is over all. I've tried to bring together all my work in different places with the phrase 'bringing stories to life'. Think about what would spark some interest or reveal a little more personality or difference to your profile.
Make your 'about' section sing from the page rather than a stilted list of achievements. This isn't easy and I'm not sure I love mine even after lots of tinkering! Try not to fall into the trap that this is a potential job interview or CV and more of a conversation starter with a new connection. Perhaps write it more like you have on your website than how you've written a CV. Include interesting stories that might share your experience or difference. This might be about how your business has evolved, hobbies that align with your work or a snippet about you and your quirky ways of working.
Head to the 'skills' section and add your experience as a little list. This will help kick off gaining 'endorsements' from people who have worked with you so that when someone visit your profile they can get a snapshot of not only what you say your skills are, but what others think too. Generously endorse people you know or work with on LinkedIn too.
Gain some 'recommendations' to add to your profile. This is sometimes tricky if you're new to LinkedIn because you need to request that someone says something nice about you! But, it's standard practice on LinkedIn and if you ask a client, customer or work colleague, they're only too happy to help. You don't need 100s, but starting with one or two is great.
Creating an 'audience' on LinkedIn is about making 'connections'. This isn't a numbers game but a quality game. To get started, connect with those you already know and respect. You might connect with me (https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilywhitehead/), fellow Simply members or people you already know, like or work with. There are also 'bigger names' on LinkedIn that you can follow too. If you want interesting stuff in your LinkedIn feed then consider following key high profile people you are inspired by or want to learn from and maybe some key pages too. For example, if you'd like to gain some business from a bigger local company, give their page a follow to kick off with.
Once you're creating this little 'connection strategy', LinkedIn will start to recommend people to you and you to them to connect with or follow - it learns what you want and like. Using the example above, you might quickly learn and even connect with the key decision makers in that larger business you'd like to work with.
Use LinkedIn like an information hub about who knows who, who is connected and how your local or sector is operating. This isn't business stalking as such (!), but super useful if you're trying to access new markets or decide who the most important person to talk to is for your next steps. You'll notice who interacts with each other on posts and paint a picture that gives you vital commercial information.
The content question! First up, LinkedIn is a place to show off your skills, achievements and offer. It's ok to create posts that invite people to learn more about your services - so don't be shy. As with all social platforms, make your post interesting and very 'you' in tone. Add in images or video to bring your post alive. Also use a link to the best place for people to find out more. You can also use hashtags in your posts. 1-3 is fine if you're trying to help people find your content. I might use #microbusiness a lot for example. You should tag other individuals or companies often so that you can show who you're working with or networking with as well as showcasing others.
BUT...you don't want to be a show off and not shine a light on others or make our content all one way. Take time to engage with, and encourage, those you're connected with. You may even share their content if it's something you want to champion or endorse. LinkedIn is a place to be generous and supportive to fellow business people.
Remember too that it's not all about you and selling. Mix up your posts that directly tell people about how to buy or book with success stories, posts about being inspired by others, a 'day in the life of' style or perhaps create a poll with a burning question about your sector. This creates engagement but could also be valuable market research. For example, what do you want most from a meeting space?' or 'what's the key service you want from a business coach'..
You could develop your profile and reputation by writing a LinkedIn article. The purpose of an article is rather like a blog - a way to shine a light on specific topics, share your experience and expertise and create content that hangs around for a long time.
Sign up for LinkedIn Learning which offers lots of mini courses & ideas for your LinkedIn profile among many other topics.
Consider creating a business page or Company Page. This provides the opportunity to share information specifically about your business and its development. It also means you can 'tag' your company into your own posts and profile to raise its profile.
Finally, consistency helps. Unlike Instagram for example, you don't need to worry about daily stories & reels but show up often, even if it's only to watch, engage and offer your endorsements of others. This platform is definitely all about getting out as much as you put in.
This is just for starters of course! Why not pop over to the Forum to join our thread on this topic (in the How To Guide category) to discuss your most successful LinkedIn experiences or ask question. Better still, share your profile link so that we can all connect in LinkedIn land.