The past few posts you’ve received from us have been focused on branding through social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Yet there is another platform out there specifically designed to allow business owners to build up large professional networks of like-minded people.
We are talking about LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is THE social network to join if you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, a contractor, a consultant, or even a job seeker. This is because it has a primary focus of business people and professionals from all over the world.
No matter what niche you’re in or what industry you’re targeting, you’ll find people, contacts and business associates right here. If you can build a strong enough brand on LinkedIn, you should find it easier to build a strong network and attract the people your business needs.
Here’s how to get started:
Creating a profile on LinkedIn only takes a few minutes. However, creating a branded profile may take just a little longer. Remember, the people who will connect with you on LinkedIn are likely to be business professionals too.
Use your full name and be sure to enter your position within your business or your job title as well. You can also add an avatar, which could be a picture of you or a graphic of your business logo or primary product.
Be sure you fill in your profile options completely. If you have lots of previous experience, show it. List Your Website
LinkedIn allows you to list up to 3 blogs or websites. Choose the three that best highlight your own brand or business and link to these. If you only have one website, you can opt to link to your Facebook Fan Page.
The default description for each link you leave says “My Website”. Don’t leave the default description this way. Instead, change it to something more recognizable, like the title of your website or the name of your business or even your profile name, if you’re linking to a Fan Page.
This not only helps people on LinkedIn to view your other web-properties, but also helps Google to rank those URLs a little better at the same time.
Customize Your URL
You have the opportunity here to customize your URL, or create your own vanity URL, to include your business name or your full name, instead of just your login name, if you want an opportunity to increase your brand awareness.
Simply select the ‘edit’ option in your profile and find the tab that says ‘public profile’. From here, you want to edit the ‘public profile URL’. This is where you enter your full name, or your business name.
Your LinkedIn URL will change to look something like this:
If someone else has already created a custom URL using the same name or brand you want, try putting a period between the names. Make Use of the Applications There are only a few applications in LinkedIn that rate a mention
for real branding purposes. Some of these are: Slideshare.net, Blog Link and WordPress RSS. These applications allow you to syndicate the material you publish to your blog via your LinkedIn profile.
Slideshare is just cool for creating presentations that get your point across and offer a visual representation of your brand.
LinkedIn allows people from within your network to ‘recommend’ people. This is displayed as a little graphic that looks like a ‘thumbs up’ sign. People who recommend you are showing other people within your network that you’ve done something they like or appreciate. They’re vouching for you in the online world of social networking.
Think of it this way: Imagine you have a potential customer looking through your profile to see what kind of person you are and that customer is comparing you to someone who is in direct competition with you. Which profile is going to seem more trustworthy to that customer: the one with no recommendations, or the one with 10 showing clearly?
Building Your LinkedIn Network
Of course, getting your profile set up on LinkedIn is a start, but it won’t do you any good unless you build up a network of people. The fastest way to start this is to import contacts from your current webmail accounts. These include Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Windows Live and Yahoo!
You should also promote your customized LinkedIn URL on your other social media platforms. This includes showing it on your Facebook Fan Page, your Twitter profile, your website, your blog, your business card, or anywhere else that might be noticed by people.
Starting your own LinkedIn Group gives you access to a very powerful branding tool. This is very similar to the idea behind a Facebook Page. You have the opportunity to send out announcements to everyone within your group simultaneously. This means you’ll be able to keep in contact with those people even if they don’t log into LinkedIn very often. For marketing purposes, this offers plenty of benefits.
Within your fan pages you should notice a tab titled ‘News’. In here, you’re able to import your RSS feeds for people to keep updated. You also aren’t just limited to importing your own blog’s RSS feed. You can import feeds from news sites, industry sites, or anything else you think your fans might find interesting.
When used correctly, LinkedIn really can provide a seriously effective way to build your brand. Just be sure you keep your profile and your updates a little more professional than those you’d use on Facebook or Twitter. You never know who might be looking at your profile!