LinkedIn is one of the most valuable platforms for personal branding. With more than 467 million users, LinkedIn is also a gold mine for building connections with prospects – social selling is the way deals are happening in 2017 and those relationships are increasingly being built online.
However, with so many users, if you want to stand out on this professional network, you need to perfectly craft your personal brand. Luckily, it’s easier than it might sound. Here are tips tailored for sales professionals to build your brand, optimize your LinkedIn profile, and set up your social selling strategy for success on LinkedIn:
Let’s be honest — nobody wants to interact with a LinkedIn profile that’s not visually appealing. With this in mind, it’s time to step up your game and optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Start by uploading a recent, high-quality headshot. If you’ve never had professional portraits done, now is a very good time to think about having some taken. Or you can get scrappy, find some nice natural lighting, and have someone with decent Instagram skills take an optimally filtered photo on your phone. Once you’ve updated your profile picture, add a relevant cover photo – something related to your company (we create Linkedin cover graphics that our reps can use) or a nice photo you’ve taken if you’re artsy like that.
Then fill out your profile as much as possible. Keep it recent and thorough. Add publications, certifications, experience and more. The more comprehensive your profile is, the more likely your potential new connections (and your current connections you haven’t talked to since your ten-year reunion) are to get an immediate feel for who you are and what you’re all about.
Think of your headline as your digital handshake — it matters and it makes a big impression. While most people use their headline to broadcast their current job position, there’s room to get a bit more creative than that.
Take, for example, Rand Fishkin, Founder and former CEO of Moz. Instead of this boring stuff, though, his headline says “Wizard of Moz.” If you don’t have the name recognition the founder of Moz commands, think of a creative way to explain how your role helps others. Some of my favorite headlines from colleagues at Outreach include: “Helping Sales Teams Shift into Turbo!!” and “Helping Companies Drive Sales & Crush Quotas”
Your first priority is to make sure your headline is clear and accurate, but after that, there’s room to play around with it and make it creative. Keep it true to your mission, personality, and outlook, and it’ll attract the kind of attention and connection that you want.
Few things are worse than the dreaded “Invite All” LinkedIn connection. While it’s possible to use the platform to cast a broad net, you’ll be much better off using it to connect intentionally.
As you build your LinkedIn network, think about connecting with the people who can help you build your personal brand, or more importantly, connecting with people who you can help. This might include admired influencers, friends, and past employers.
If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know on the platform, be sure to include a thoughtful note that explains your intentions and your familiarity with their work or ideas. Be concise and direct, and if you’re connecting with a new prospect, keep the focus on what you can do for them, not the other way around.
The thing that most influences your personal brand is your voice. If you use LinkedIn as a public stage to blabber on and on or to publish low-quality content, it’s highly likely your personal brand won’t grow.
Instead, take the time to hone in on your voice and nurture it into something more professional and compelling. Maybe you’re that person who curates interesting articles, posts insightful commentary about your industry, or shares uplifting motivational stories. If you want to publish articles, one meaningful article that’s true to your voice will have a much bigger impact on your network than a bunch of poorly thought out, rushed posts. Find what drives you and optimize your LinkedIn profile around that!
When you stay true to yourself, your authenticity will be evident and attractive to your connections.
LinkedIn is a top-tier personal publishing platform. Once you’ve honed your voice and style, use it to post content on a regular basis. The more frequently you publish, the more readers have to interact with. Publishing posts is also a great way to get noticed by 2nd and 3rd-degree connections. And it’s a great way to establish yourself as an industry expert when you’re connecting with prospects. Think about it this way: are you adding as much value as you consume from LinkedIn? People always want to connect with someone who brings them value. Start with a LinkedIn article, and then – who knows – you could be selling someone the world’s next big innovation.
Whether you’re trying to find new prospects, strengthen existing relationships, or brand yourself as an industry leader, building your personal brand by optimizing your LinkedIn profile will help you in your pursuits. While LinkedIn is a crowded platform, people who put in the time and effort to develop a unique and compelling presence will see a huge ROI, in terms of conversions, connections, and opportunities.
Updated 4/4/19: For more stellar social selling secrets, check out Lindsay Melo's post How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for Sales [2019 Edition] on the Sales Hacker blog.