Why Small Business Owners Need a LinkedIn Profile
OPINION: LinkedIn became my favorite social media platform five years ago after I gave up on Twitter, and I felt overwhelmed by all the professional Facebook groups I had spent time in.
I lacked platforms, which for someone who has lived and breathed, making connections online was slightly problematic!
People still think it’s primarily for business and recruiting, but it’s so much more than that. While this is still a place where you can create a brand to grab the attention of headhunters, show off your experience, and create a brand on behalf of the company you work for, it is also a powerful tool for business people. small business owners, especially if you sell services or products to other business owners.
Like all social media platforms, you need to decide if this is right for you. If you’re wondering if your target market is on LinkedIn, I often say âif your target persona tends to be employed and / or earns money,â then chances are they’re on LinkedIn. Of course, this is a very generalized view, but it helps to change the idea that this platform is only a commercial connection.
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Last week on the MAP IT Marketing podcast, I interviewed Michelle J Raymond, who is the world’s foremost expert on the power of business pages and how to use them to build community and sell your services. by building relationships and sharing value around what your business does. (Full disclosure, I had long thought these pages were a waste of small business’s time, and Michelle managed to change my mind!)
Michelle explains why it’s important to use your personal profile to show your own personality and build relationships (kind of like a cohesive networking night. You don’t want to be THAT guy who keeps handing out business cards! ), then your business page is where you can talk a bit more directly about the business. (I imagine it’s like having a booth at that networking event and people know if they approach you, they’ll be expected to be a business conversation.)
On Facebook and Instagram, we need to build a presence as a brand. Responding to comments and interacting is done under your brand name. On LinkedIn, most conversations are person-to-person. I think that’s what I love the most about the platform, especially as a small business that doesn’t have a central office in town and strictly limits my time for coffee catch-ups.
The New Zealand small business community has a strong presence on LinkedIn, with activity spilling out into true networking events called âLinkedIn Localâ. I often tell my clients about the vibrant local networks that I can see in front of me for both Waikato and Christchurch in particular.
I also enjoyed connecting with other people in my industry all over the world. I have discussed elements of my business with other marketers around the world, learning, supporting and contributing to each other as we get to know each other.
Whether you decide to go for it and spend some time connecting, commenting, and posting, or just want to make sure you’ve used the benefits of LinkedIn’s organic standing in search results and just want to âPimpingâ your profile, it’s worth spending a few hours creating a profile for yourself as a business owner, with links and information that can link to your website or other places relevant.
Here’s a free infographic to help you get a visual idea of ââthe key elements of a LinkedIn profile, which I handed out with this week’s podcast episode. I suggest you make a little plan before you start building your own so you don’t get overwhelmed. This includes collecting images and links.
We’ve covered a lot of cool little features you can add to make your profile interactive, but here’s a list of the basic essentials of what you need to include:
A LinkedIn banner
It should be branded, with a call to action targeted at your ideal customers. Some people add another photo of themselves. If you have a team, you can ask your team to share a corporate brand banner.
A profile picture
Make it your head and shoulders online, up-to-date, clear and user-friendly
This is essential if you want to comment and interact on LinkedIn. Every time you comment on someone else’s post, they share your photo, name, and the first eighty characters of your title.
Work on it to get her to explain what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and what the outcome will be. You have a lot more characters after that, so add a few keywords, and maybe something that reflects your personality or your style.
About the section
This is your personal profile, so this section should be about you and written in the first person. You can still talk about your business, but find a way to make it part of the rest of your story. Include information that shows your interests, personality, and values. You want to work with people who are like you, and that helps that.
The featured section
It’s like a mini links section where you can help direct people to more information and your business. I recommend having at least three links. One for people who don’t know you at all (mine is a video showing my personality and style), something for people who have had a few interactions (I link to my podcast, but you can link to a blog), and then something for people who want more information on how to work with you (case studies, a link to free lead generation, or an option to book a call with you).
The case about the section
There is space to list your experience and list your business. If you have configured the Company Page, you can connect it here. This is where you can talk specifically about your business, what it does, and how to work with you.
While I would love for you to come and be a part of the New Zealand LinkedIn community and come talk with me there, I know this is not the best fit for all small business owners.
However, set aside time to create a populated profile page.
You can even add in your About section on what other social media platforms they’re more likely to find you instead. Complete it and you’ve added another place people can learn about you and your business online.
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist specializing in lead generation and content marketing. She owns Identify Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to better tell their story to the right people. Tune in to his weekly MAP IT Marketing podcast – created to help small business owners learn about marketing.
Identifier Marketing is a content partner with Stuff for specialist small business information. Find Rachel’s events here.