LinkedIn is one of those social platforms that most small business professionals have, but don’t necessarily know how to utilize effectively. I hear it all the time – “I have a LinkedIn profile, but I don’t really know what to do with it.” Let’s break down a few simple LinkedIn Dos and Dont’s when it comes to small business.
DO connect with other professionals you know.
And don’t go getting all specific about who you think would be interested in your business. In the world of networking, both online and off, EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who could benefit from your services. So reach out to other small business owners you know, former co-workers, friends, associates. If you have met them in a business capacity, send them a connection request. I do this almost immediately upon returning to my office after meeting someone new. Actively build your network!
DON’T have a selfie as your LinkedIn profile picture.
Seriously. You need a professional-looking profile picture. This doesn’t have to be a professional head-shot taken by a photographer (although that would be nice, and I can connect you with a few good photographers if you’d like a professional head-shot) But it does have to be reflective of who you are as a person, in a business capacity. It can be a fun, creative photo that shows your personality, but it should also be reflective of your business self, so ditch the selfies.
DO engage daily with interesting content and people.
Yes, DAILY! This is not a serious time commitment. Take 5 minutes while you drink your morning coffee. But DO take the time. If you are spending just a few minutes each day keeping up to date on what your connections are doing and talking about, you will be better able to engage them in conversation, and find opportunities for you to discuss your business, or theirs! Engaging in relevant conversations shows that you are smart, engaged, and paying attention. Do you want to do business with someone who’s not paying attention? I didn’t think so. Neither do your connections.
DON’T log in once a week and do the above!
You know why? Because those of us who are connected to you can see your interactions and “likes” in our feed. If you comment on something, or like someone’s article, we can see that. Which, on a daily basis, is great, as it gives us the opportunity to see what your interests are and possibly get in on the conversation ourselves. BUT, if you log in once a week and click “like” on 50 posts, guess what shows up in my News Feed? 50 posts IN A ROW that you have liked. Not cool, my friend. Not cool.
DO share relevant or interesting content.
If you truly think of LinkedIn as a huge networking event, then you’ll realize that people want to get to know you and your business. And the best way to do that is to post and/or share good content. Whether it’s something you wrote yourself, like a blog post, (Hey, you should watch LinkedIn for this one!), or an article from a news source that you found interesting or is relevant to your industry, go ahead and share it. It may spark conversation with someone and lead to another connection or a new client.
DO respond to messages.
Come ON! Are you seriously on a networking platform and not responding to your messages?! I get that some people spam the LinkedIn inboxes, and I’m not suggesting you engage the spammers in chit chat, but if someone sends you a message, for gosh sakes, respond! Plenty of people send those messages so that they can make a genuine connection with you for the mutual benefit of your businesses. I do it all the time. If you don’t respond, then I assume you are not interested in the potential referrals I could send your way. And if that’s the case, then I also assume you don’t need any new business. Good for you! But seriously, if you are there for the business connections then take advantage of the connections that come your way and respond to your messages.
DO give endorsements.
LinkedIn endorsements are a great way for others to quickly endorse your skills, without having to type out a review. They can just click what you’re good at, and be on their way. Giving endorsements to your LinkedIn connections builds trust, and shows others that you have done business with this person and are speaking highly of their skills. The other benefit is that if you endorse someone for their skills, they are more likely to do the same for you. Having said that…
DON’T give faux endorsements.
I know this seems ridiculous, but people do it because they want you to endorse them back. Also a faux endorsement! These are like the dummy reviews on Facebook that you see when a business has been open for 3 days and they already have 50 glowing reviews. Recruit your friends much? *wink* Don’t endorse a connection unless you have actually done business with them and can vouch for their skills. Remember, those endorsements are public, so anyone on LinkedIn can go ahead and contact you asking about your experience with so-and-so the accountant. And if you’ve never done business with so-and-so the accountant, well……you just lost some credibility. And possibly some potential clients.
As you can see, LinkedIn can be a valuable networking tool for small business owners if done correctly. I hope these tips will help point you in the right direction, and allow you to get more out of your LinkedIn profile.