Maximizing LinkedIn, Part 1: Setting up Your Basic Profile
LinkedIn needs to be a part of every producer’s sales toolkit. This social platform provides an easy way to learn about, and reach out to, millions of businesspeople (also called prospects). In addition, all agency staff should create a profile. Unfortunately, many producers, as well as staff, don’t take full advantage of the site’s capabilities even though most are free.
In the next few weeks I’ll share my top recommendations for maximizing LinkedIn for networking and, ultimately, making sales.The first step, if you haven’t done so already, is to create your LinkedIn profile. Our first LinkedIn TechTips focuses on making your profile an effective tool:
Your Name: Use your “known as” name. My given name is Stephen but I have gone by Steve for many years so that is what I use in my profile and on my business card.
Headline: Also known as Title, this area provides you with a great branding opportunity. When another user searches the LinkedIn user database, your name and headline are the only things they’ll see before deciding whether to click on your full profile. Make this statement count. “Commercial Producer” isn’t much of a branding statement, but “Specialist in Protecting the Financial Future of Business Owners” provides more focused information.
Photo: Make sure you add a photo! Upload any decent-looking, digital head-and-shoulders photo. You don’t need business attire for this shot. Just use a photo that sends the message, “This is a professional person,” meaning (as you may have guessed) last year’s beach vacation shots might not be your best pick.
Custom URL: Make sure your LinkedIn profile bears your own stamp in the form of a personalized URL, like http://www.linkedin.com/in/TAAReport, if it is available. You should add this customized URL to your email signature, on your business card, and anywhere else you have your information.
Summary: Here’s where you can tell your own story. People buy from people, so use this freeform section to show your personality. It’s OK to have fun with your LinkedIn summary. It’s where you can speak to the reader (the person viewing your profile) in a human voice.
Employment History: It takes only a few seconds to upload your text resume to LinkedIn, and it will save you time creating the Work History section of your profile. You can amplify this field with your proudest accomplishments or particular responsibilities you want readers to know about. It’s important to include the dates (and employer names) for each past assignment so LinkedIn can match you up with colleagues who have worked alongside you.
Education: Including accurate dates in the Education section of your profile will make it easy for the LinkedIn database elves to match you up with classmates who may be on LinkedIn now, waiting for you to reach out and refresh the connection.
Contact: The “Contact [Person X] for” section toward the bottom of your profile is another great field because it forces you to think about what you want from LinkedIn and from your networking in general. This is where you get to decide which types of contacts you want and don’t want. Which conversations are you willing to have, and which ones are a waste of your time?
Following these suggestions will help you maximize your LinkedIn profile.