(Photo by Flickr user Aarthi Ramamurthy via a Creative Commons license)
Capture Greatness! founder Melissa Rowe‘s column, Social Good and the Solopreneur, is dedicated to local change makers who are doing their part to make their corner of the world a better place. Melissa will discuss launching passion projects to build businesses on shoestring budgets and with a single-person army.
Over the past few months, LinkedIn has really lit my fire. It’s my one-stop social media shop for boosting my business. And I think you might like it, too. It had a reputation of being a site to store your résumé, but with new features and a streamlined feed, individuals are getting noticed big time.
You know what that means? As a solopreneur, it gives you more opportunities to build your brand, share your work and connect with potential partners or clients. Here are six ways to use LinkedIn to boost your business.
1. Personalize your profile
Don’t worry about creating a LinkedIn account for your business right now. If you use your personal profile effectively, people will find, connect and engage with you in no time.
First, you want to upload a custom background image. Choose an action shot of you at work or a crisp image that amplifies your brand message. Do you sell a product? Perhaps you want to put it on display. Use a site such as Canva to create custom background images.
Next, ditch the tired title line. While you may be the “CEO” or “Owner” of your business, these titles don’t tell people how you can help them. As a solopreneur, you are still building brand awareness.
If your organization or business isn’t a household name opt for titles that describe what you do or suggest how you can help others. Let’s say you own a media production company: Choose phrases like “filmmaker” and “editor” in your profile, over “Owner at Films for You.”
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2. Soup up your summary
The summary section of LinkedIn is a text field that allows you to formally introduce yourself and your services to your connections. Google pulls keywords from this section of your profile, so take some time and make sure to include industry key words for search engine optimization.
More than summarizing your past experiences, use the summary section to tell your connections how to work with you. Do you want people to visit your website, email you directly, sign up for your newsletter list? Tell them and provide the link to their next step in your summary box. Easy peasy.
3. Ditch the old-school résumé
Ever wonder what to do with your résumé now that you’re a business owner? Pimp it out! LinkedIn is the ultimate pimp-my-résumé site. You can add all of the sections of a traditional résumé plus cool futures such as embedded videos, articles and images into your profile.
Did you write an ebook and you want people to download? Add that as a project and upload the cover into your profile, then provide the link to download the whole book from your website.
Was your business featured in a major magazine or news source? Upload the article or video so that your connections can see, too. These features make it easy to showcase all of your work without bombarding the newsfeed with braggadocian content.
4. Build your authority
Relationships are built on trust — especially in business. Courting clients, board members or partners involves a cultivation process. Ultimately, people want to see if you know what you’re doing or talking about.
LinkedIn has a Posts feature that helps members build their authority. Without soliciting industry publications or writing letters to editors, LinkedIn allows users to publish their own content, whenever they want.
If you currently have a blog, consider reposting your articles on LinkedIn, or share the introduction and embed the link back to your website where people can read the article in full. Don’t forget to help people find your articles by adding tags to the end of your posts and sharing your newly published posts as an update. Updates pop up in your connections’ newsfeeds.
5. Stay active
Networking is never one-and-done. To stay top-of-mind you want to become a more active member of the social network, don’t let your profile sit dormant.
You can engage with people on LinkedIn by sharing useful updates, commenting on other’s posts and updates, and sending private messages to connections you haven’t seen or heard from in a while.
If you have specific information that you know is valuable to certain connections, LinkedIn allows you to tag people, businesses and institutions using the @ symbol.
Making updates to your profile? Let the whole world know. Turn on the “Notify My Network” feature so that whenever you add or change things — like your title or jobs — all of your connections are notified. You can even choose to publish your LinkedIn updates to your Twitter account, giving you two-for-one engagement.
6. Expand your reach
The beauty of LinkedIn is how easy it is to find the people you need to get in front of. For each connection you have, you can see all of their connections and your degrees of separation. Don’t be afraid to ask your personal connections to introduce you to someone they know firsthand.
Know an industry leader who you just admire? Big wigs don’t always open up their profile for connections, but I bet they are publishing posts and LinkedIn has a “follow” feature that will allow you to be notified when that person publishes something new. Follow, comment, share, get noticed, repeat.
Not so sure about the one-on-one interaction? Join an industry group and chime in on conversations, share posts specifically with group members, and get to know folks across the country in your field.
Are you a fan of LinkedIn or another site? Let me know what you’re doing to boost your business online. Leave your tips in the comments.-30-
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