SCORE Small Business Blog

Branding Your Image and Credibility on LinkedIn, Part 2 of 4
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I “Googled” myself for a recent workshop presentation I made for unemployed job seekers.  It was an advanced LinkedIn class and I hoped to show them how to use this tool to enhance their job search.  This was an exercise to demonstrate the power of LinkedIn profiles, and my experiment worked.

To be blunt, I have been building a personal on line presence since mid-2009 when I decided to seriously prepare for retirement after working in direct sales since 1980.  My goal was to become a Web marketing consultant for small business owners and help build Web site traffic, just as I did for my wife Judy.  My stated purpose was to be found in natural (organic and free) searches for specific keywords I chose to market and promote.  As other shoestring budget entrepreneurs, I had more time than money to invest in attaining these objectives.

However, regardless of all my personal efforts, my LinkedIn profile shows up higher in the SERP (search engine results page) than any thing I did prior to promote myself.  When I search for my name LinkedIn always appears exactly as number one.  This does not surprise me in the least;  in fact the reason is crystal clear and most obvious.  It has to do with the power of LinkedIn’s clout with search engines.

LinkedIn has a Page Rank, or PR, of 9 out of 10 (where 10 is the best; i.e. USA.gov has a page rank of 10) and an Alexa traffic ranking of 12 (where 1 is the best;  i.e. Facebook is 1, Google 2,  Amazon 10).  Note:  See Wikipedia for a definition of Page Rank or Alexa Ranking.

OK, you must be asking yourself about now:  “So, where is this leading to?”

If you are like most Americans, you use a search engine (66% are most likely to use Google) to look for information on the Internet.  The converse is true as well with regards to your business.  Anyone you may come into contact with for a potential business relationship is likely to do the same.  It is rather safe to assume those people you meet will probably Google you just to “check you out.”  It’s the modern equivalent of “checking references.”

This calls for a number of serious questions you should reflect upon:

  • What results will they find if you do not have a LinkedIn profile?
  • What if your LinkedIn profile is less than complete and like most, sketchy and vague?
  • What impression will you then convey?
  • Will the investigator proceed to your number two result or just quit?
  • In this competitive world can you afford the latter?

Reality check!  LinkedIn gives you the opportunity and ability to build your online credibility, your brand, as well as the mark of your professionalism.  And, you have the ability to tie it all up with a nice bow and stamp it with social proof statements.   To “top off the cake,” this entire combination is free to you with a basic membership, although I admit there is a time commitment.  However, the return on your investment may more than warrant the time, if done correctly.

Your LinkedIn profile is your rock solid foundation just as the foundation is in constructing a house or driven piles, drilled shafts, caissons, etc. are in erecting a skyscraper.   Yet I see too many use a skeletal approach, just entering the bare minimum.  This laissez faire approach just doesn’t cut it in setting yourself out from the crowd and showing what makes you different.  You must answer the question on the visitor’s mind:  “What’s in it for me?”

Your first objective is to complete your profile to 100% of the recently modified LinkedIn parameters.  To complete it correctly you need a full understanding of your options.  Here are LinkedIn’s guidelines:

  LinkedIn Instructions for Completing Your Profile

There are important data fields in your LinkedIn profile and you should utilize the available characters (as versus words) within each of them.  Here is my list and rough calculation for each field:

Must Match In At Least Six Important Fields On LinkedIn To Be Found (Characters Allowed, Approx.)

  1. Headline (Slug, Tag) (120)
  2. Present & Previous Position (100)
  3. Summary (1,500 ++)
  4. Specialty (300 ++)
  5. Job Descriptions (2,000, each)
  6. Skills (up to 50)

However, this is just the start of building your social proof.   In addition:

  • Although LinkedIn de-emphasized recommendations I feel they are important and are really the main profile area where someone else besides you is writing about you.
  • If you are an active LinkedIn user, you noticed “endorsements” were added in September 2012.  These are a version of other social media sites’ stamps of approval.
  • You should expand on your available skills past the LinkedIn minimum criteria of 5.  You can have a maximum of 50.

There are additional ‘sections‘ and ‘applications‘ you may add to further embellish your profile. You find them under your profile highlight box while in “Edit Profile” mode.  Click the  < Add sections > blue hyperlink on the bottom right (see below) to reveal 10 sections and 15 applications.  Use those appropriately to establish your credibility and professionalism.

Some of the sections and applications I use include:

  • Publications (section):  Various Blog articles I wrote and were published as well as a Webinar on which I was the main guest and presenter.
  • Volunteer Experiences and Causes (section):  I list the locations I teach unemployed, SCORE Chicago, etc.
  • Blog link (application):  My personal WordPress business blog articles are automatically added.
  • Box.net (application):  PDFs mainly of written letters of reference from sources in addition to the LinkedIn recommendations received.
  • Slide Share Presentations (application):  PowerPoints and YouTube Videos.
  • Reading List by Amazon:  To partially demonstrate my autodidact training.  Plus I get to make comments on the books for all to read!

In the next article I’ll discuss why a large network is important to you in targeting your potential market and we’ll explore several ways to expand your LinkedIn connections.

Michael YubloskyMentor with SCORE Chicago
Michael specializes in website forensics and new marketing strategies for underperforming small business websites. He coaches SCORE clients from his shirt-sleeve, hands on experience of SEO and use of free social media platforms such as WordPress blogging, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.
www.SCOREChicago.org | SCORE Mentors | LinkedIn | More from Michael

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Discussion (2) Comment

  1. Mark –

    You’re welcome. It is always a pleasure to share what I learned about LinkedIn….


  2. Mark StonhamVisitor

    Michael,

    Thank-you for summarising these key points to make the most of a LinkedIn profile.

    Editing your LinkedIn profile URL to get rid of the numbers and adding 3 website links using the ‘other’ option to give the links a meaningful description also make the profile look smarter.

    Mark.

 

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