Last month, LinkedIn exceeded 300 million users, a milestone for a company that has seen steady growth over the last two years. This is largely in part to how they have redefined what being on LinkedIn means to the user. No longer is LinkedIn synonymous with simple job searching. LinkedIn now is the clear leader among social platforms as the place to do business and strengthen connections online. As I discussed in an earlier post, Social Media in a Regulated Industry, part one of this series, will focus on how your LinkedIn profile can help optimize your business presence.

LinkedIn Validates You.

I say this every time I mention LinkedIn. Here’s why: You never know who is searching for you and what they may be searching for. As a social media platform, LinkedIn is a key component to your business success because you are not only able to publicly highlight your career accomplishments and expertise, but you are also able to exponentially increase your “findability” within LinkedIn and Google search. This can be very important if your goal is to find and connect with potential prospects, customers, business partners and consumers. LinkedIn makes it so much easier.

The fastest way to make a first great impression with your audience on LinkedIn is to optimize your LinkedIn profile page. Here are the 7 Must-Haves for a great LinkedIn profile.

1.    Profile Picture

LinkedIn is the leading social media platform for business connections. You need to have a great headshot and appropriate business attire relative to your industry. This is where people who may have never met you before have the chance to connect your face with your name. Make a great first impression with a friendly professional photo. A tip for personal branding success is to use the same headshot on each social media platform. This will increase your findability and maintain brand consistency.

2.    Your Headline

Your LinkedIn headline shows up everywhere. This means the content of your headline is searchable, both by Google and LinkedIn users. It also appears when you invite someone to connect or when you send a message to another LinkedIn user. It even pops up when users hover over your profile picture. So having an accurate, clear headline helps define you to your audience. Some people like to have fun with their headlines; for example, “Your Friendly Mortgage Lending Professional.” Some are so bold as to include their phone number in the headline, while others stick to the straightforward approach of job title and company name. This will vary based on industry and your corporate policy.

3.    Vanity Profile URL

Take the initiative to let your audience know you are a serious business professional by claiming your LinkedIn vanity URL. This will help to keep it short and easy to remember when you share it with others. It also offers the ability to increase your personal search engine optimization (SEO) within Google search.

4.    Profile Search Terms

LinkedIn’s search function is a valuable resource to its users. Most fields are searchable within LinkedIn, so it is important to identify a few key terms you hope to highlight and be found for. Once identified, use those terms not only in your LinkedIn headline (see Must-Have #2), but also in LinkedIn’s summary section. Think of the summary section as your two minute elevator pitch. Keep it concise, but hone in on the specific areas you wish to highlight. To take findability one-step further, consider using these same select terms within the job titles or descriptions of your past work experience (where appropriate).

5.    List Your Education

LinkedIn is about building connections and cultivating those relationships in the business space. It is a fact that camaraderie can be made over a commonality, such as your alma mater. Listing your education can help improve your professional validation and strengthen bonds between potential clients, customers or general users.

6.    Endorsements

Though common and easy to give or receive, endorsements still serve a valuable purpose validating your professional experience. Take the top 10 skills or areas of expertise you hold and list them on LinkedIn. By gaining endorsements in areas of your expertise, you allow for other business users to have a better understanding of specific areas where you thrive. At a glance, endorsements can be a nice, visual reassurance to others.

7.    Recommendations

LinkedIn offers you the ability to give recommendations. A recommendation for another user shows a person’s willingness to speak out publicly in support of the work you do. If you have worked with a client or a business partner, and it went well, you may want to seek a recommendation or even better, they may offer one without your request. The value in having public support allows others to see the strength of your personal brand and strong business savvy. It is important to note you do not have to accept all recommendations offered to you, and you may want to choose them strategically, based on your industry.

Ensuring your profile page has at least these 7 Must-Haves will validate your LinkedIn profile and secure your status as a trusted business professional. As stated earlier, LinkedIn is the leading B2B social media platform. It’s here where deals are getting done, businesses and individuals are connecting and faces are being put to names. Make sure you have the strongest impact possible by showcasing the talents you hold with the business professionals in your industry.

Have thoughts on other areas to highlight on a LinkedIn profile? I would love to hear about them, so please share in the comments.

Want more insights on how to increase business opportunities with LinkedIn? Check out MGIC’s free webinar.

LinkedIn Strategies for Loan Officers

Ben Smidt, MA

Ben Smidt - Former MGIC Digital Strategy Manager

Ben Smidt served as MGIC’s Digital Strategy Manager. He led corporate development and management of MGIC's digital marketing strategy across the enterprise. This included establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company's digital and social media marketing efforts. His primary goal is to increase brand awareness and improve user experience (UX). Additional responsibilities included PPC budget strategy and management of ad spend.

In addition to the insurance industry, Ben has a combined 10 years of experience in computer software, education and publishing industries. His focus has always remained in the area of education and digital marketing for media and technology.

He holds an MA from Marquette University in media channel effectiveness and digital communications, as well as a BS from UW-Madison focused in communications. He resides with his wife, daughter and son in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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