Any small business owner in NYC can benefit from using LinkedIn as a personal branding tool. LinkedIn has an audience of over 70 million decision makers, has been developed purely for business to business purposes, and is, by far, the most appropriate business social media tool to drive qualified leads to you and your business.
If you want to use LinkedIn to get business leads, here are four tips that work.
1. Analyze and Develop Your Personal Brand
Before you can promote your own personal brand through LinkedIn to drive qualified leads to your inbox, you need to create your own compelling personal brand. The first thing you need to do this is to ask your colleagues and clients to list your three strengths that relate to how you provide value to your clients, customers, and vendors. You also need to think about what it is you like to do and what you want your name to be synonymous with when people think of you.
Make sure you can substantiate and support this personal brand through client testimonials as well as by making a commitment to delivering resourceful content to your LinkedIn audience on a daily or weekly basis. Content can include links to related articles and your comments, plus presentations, articles you have developed and delivered, and case studies of your work.
2. Create an Engaging and Professional LinkedIn Profile
Always remember that LinkedIn is a B2B networking place—it just happens to be an online community. You want to create and refresh your profile in first person, as you would if you were to introduce yourself in your 15 second pitch at a breakfast networking event. In your profile, you need a compelling headline that states what benefits you provide and, again, something to support your personal brand position.
In alignment with having a professional profile, you will need to create a professional photo or have one shot by a photographer. You do not want a high school or phone camera shot of you for your LinkedIn profile. Always remember that LinkedIn is for serious business professionals. Having a professional headshot of you is mandatory for your LinkedIn success.
Your LinkedIn headline should reflect your brand and your success so that potential clients can immediately see what you do and how you have helped other business professionals. After you create your headline, your summary profile should contain a list of keywords for your own personal brand based on what the brand is, as well as what phrases you think people will type into the LinkedIn search bar to find someone like you.
Don’t overwrite. The headline should be a headline. Period. You want to grab their attention and move on to reading your profile and client testimonials.
Your Linkedin profile summary should be written in first person to engage the reader and should quickly and effectively highlight your relevant accomplishments and skills. Remember, the point of developing a personal brand is to position yourself as a field expert. The more you list and, especially, prove your skills, the more credible you become to your target LinkedIn audience.
Besides the basics, you want to create and refresh your profile to be interactive, engaging, and fresh. To do so, you can utilize applications such as Slideshare and Box.net to pull in your latest presentations, videos, and PDFs of work that you have delivered. Another way to keep your profile alive is to create and commit to a blog on WordPress that will support your brand and pull in using the Typepad LinkedIn app to display your latest blog posts.
3. Create Valuable Connections
Now that you have an effective, personally branded LinkedIn profile, you want to start to generate valuable connections. These come in several forms:
- Potential clients
- Potential networking partners
- Potential employees
- Potential colleagues
The first thing you want to do is create your LinkedIn message that you will send to these prospective connections. The message should state your brand position, politely request them to become a connection, and offer to be a resource to them. Once you have your message created, you should import any and all connections that you have in your email contacts. These include clients, prospects, vendors, partners, networking connections, and university relations. All of these connections can assist you to grow attention to your LinkedIn profile.
Once you invite people into your network, you must make a commitment to provide them with value by either making LinkedIn introductions that can help them or providing them with fresh, daily information that will help them do their jobs better.
One crucial activity you will need to do to create LinkedIn relationships is to either create and manage a group, or join and participate in groups related to your industry, business, or target audience. Group members create the strongest bonds because they share activities or knowledge.
4. Take Part in Daily Activities
To truly make LinkedIn work for you and your personal brand, you must spend at least five to 10 minutes a day doing the following:
1. Asking questions related to serving your clients
2. Answering questions related to supporting your personal brand
3. Getting involved in related group discussions
4. Asking for and providing real client testimonials
5. Making valuable connections for others in your network
Remember that using Linkedin as a personal branding tool requires commitment and giving. Start today to see results tomorrow.
Jasmine Sandler is the founder and CEO of Agent-cy Online Marketing, a NYC-based full service online marketing consultancy and agency which has been helping small businesses use the web more effectively to drive business since 2006. Jasmine is a go to web consultant for business owners as well as industry speaker, teacher, and contributing writer. She can be contacted through her blog, company site, Facebook business profile, or via Linkedin, where she is a corporate trainer.