A well-rounded social media strategy not only focuses on consumer relationships but also builds upon the professional connections that are integral to your success. What's the perfect platform to help you do just that? You guessed it: LinkedIn. While it may be less used than other social media sites, LinkedIn is still a powerful tool for helping you expand your network, develop vital partner relationships, and position yourself as a leader in your market. Here are the four key elements you need to optimize your LinkedIn strategy.
Make a great first impression.
It goes without saying that you need a professional (current) headshot. Beyond that, your headline is one of the most important elements of your profile. It's what appears right under your name and encapsulates what you do — and it's what shows up in search engines. Don't just list your job title here; show off your specialty. For example, "Real Estate Broker" is far less interesting than "Luxury Real Estate Broker | Specializing in Listing and Selling Miami since 2008."
Draw viewers in with a compelling summary.
Your summary is where people start to get to know you. In three to five sentences, it should sum up your background, your area(s) of expertise, and your value proposition. (You're allowed 2,000 characters, but avoid maxing it out!) Go for a more casual tone here, and write in the first person to give it a personal touch. Keep in mind you can also add images, videos, links to your blog, etc. in your summary, which is a great way to help your personality shine. For instance, a 30-second "About Me" video below your summary can be a great attention grabber compared to text alone.
Here's an example of a profile that features a descriptive headline, an interesting summary, and uses rich media to capture attention.
Consider investing in a professional to help build out your profile to ensure it's powerful and error free.
Showcase your experience.
While your LinkedIn profile should list your career history, education, and accomplishments, it's important to think beyond the resume. The goal here is to develop your professional narrative to establish credibility and illustrate the value you bring to the table today. If you have prior roles that are unrelated to your current career path, it's ok to include them, but don't place too much emphasis there. Instead, focus on relevant work experience, highlighting quantifiable results versus listing out tasks that you've completed.
One of the best ways to establish credibility is through what others say about you. Ask a few colleagues, business partners, and customers to write a recommendation about you and your work. These will appear on your profile and can give your page a powerful boost.
Once your profile is in tip-top shape, it's time to get your name and face out there by linking up with other users. The biggest takeaway here is quality over quantity. Sure, you could connect with 400 classmates from high school (LinkedIn encourages this by suggesting people you know), but they're probably not going to help you achieve your career goals. Focus instead on connecting with the right people. Seek out folks with whom you want to do business to build up your referral network, as well as those who inspire further career growth (think industry thought-leaders or top performers outside your market). If you meet someone at a networking event, send a follow-up on LinkedIn right away. If you're looking to cast a bigger net, join a couple LinkedIn Groups. They're a great way to connect with others in your industry that may not be in your immediate network.
Send an inbox message to new or potential connections to kick-start a conversation. This can open the door to a face-to-face meeting and help you further solidify new relationships.
Even with a well-crafted profile and the right connections, you still have the challenge of standing out amongst the clutter on your followers' news feeds. Sharing industry insights, business tips, and other helpful info will not only increase your exposure, but it will also bring value to your followers and position you as someone who is at the forefront of the market. Consider choosing a handful of themes that you post about on a set schedule, such as home sales reports or a business tips video that you produce each week. As your followers start to recognize the recurring theme, it will create anticipation, and they'll look forward to seeing the latest version of your content every week, month, or however often you choose to post.
Whether we're talking about LinkedIn or any other social site, this can't be said enough: Social media is not a spectator's sport. Its value lies in the amount of effort you put into engaging with fellow users. That's not limited to responding to comments on your own posts. When someone has a work anniversary, say congrats. If you read a thought-provoking article, comment with your thoughts to strike up dialogue. It may seem insignificant, but these actions are the building blocks that help you solidify stronger professional relationships. Embrace those opportunities that are literally right at your fingertips.