I recently saw some statistics that were in equal measure promising and alarming. On the plus side, small businesses are really seeming to get that their digital presence is critical to their success and as such their use of websites and social media is increasing. The bad news is that, even still, only half of all small business have a site or regularly use social media to market their business or themselves.
That is alarming because even if you don’t pay attention to your online presence, other people do; potential customers do. People Google you and the name of your business – that is a fact. It is also a fact that if you don’t have a website, their search will still locate you, most likely on LinkedIn. Indeed, the LinkedIn SEO is so good that it is often the #1 result when you search for a person (try it and see.)
So, while Facebook gets a lot of the press these days (justifiably), the fact is, for many small businesses, LinkedIn is equally, if not more, critical.
Here are five ways to maximize your LinkedIn presence:
1. Have a great profile: If it is true that the your LinkedIn profile is often the thing people will see when searching for you (and it is), then it follows that you need to have a great one:
- Use the first few words in your profile as a headline for who you are, what you do, and why you are special – don’t just have your name and job title.
- Don’t just use words. Add pictures and videos that showcase you and your business.
- While you are at it, make sure your summary is up to date, listing your latest accomplishments and gigs.
- Use SEO. Because search engines do crawl your LinkedIn page, be sure to use key words and phrases. Also, look under your picture and see whether your LinkedIn URL is your name or just some letters or numbers. If it is the latter, edit and customize it under “edit my public profile.”
2. Use status updates: What is the value of sharing content with your LinkedIn network? According to the LinkedIn blog, users who share content at least weekly are 10x more likely to be contacted by a potential business partner or job recruiter.
3. Endorse to get endorsed: One of the cool unique features of LinkedIn is that you can get endorsements from your colleagues and have them appear on your page. On your list of Skills and Expertise, you can see people who have endorsed you. Endorse them back, and of course the best way to get new endorsements is to give them.
Let’s call it LinkedIn karma.
4. Use the LinkedIn specialty areas: LinkedIn is not just a place to hang your shingle and hope something good happens. The folks who get the best value and return from LinkedIn put time and effort into it.
In this case, let me suggest that you use two specialty areas that the site offers. LinkedIn Small Business gives you “tools, tips, and guidance.” Similarly, LinkedIn is giving small business influencers (like, for example, Richard Branson) a platform on its Pulse page. Both areas are valuable.
5. Use the advanced search function: Another way to actively use LinkedIn is to use its incredible search capabilities. I know one entrepreneur in New York who gets all of his business from LinkedIn searches. He uses it first to figure out who he should be doing business with, and then finds who can give him an introduction. You can search by name, industry, keyword, job title, etc.
LinkedIn is a great resource, especially if you link in.