LinkedIn started out sixteen years ago as a job seeking and recruitment website. That is probably why virtually every profile on LinkedIn looks like a resume. Today, LinkedIn is also the leading social media platform for B2B. If you are using LinkedIn for business development and your profile looks like a resume, you are making a big mistake.
“Your LinkedIn profile is not a resume. Your LinkedIn profile is your online reputation,” said Donna Serdula, author of LinkedIn Optimization for Dummies. Serdula and her twenty-person team (www.linkedin-makeover.com) has done over 5000 LinkedIn profile makeovers.
Serdula believes that the very first step for LinkedIn users is to determine why they are on LinkedIn and what they want out of it. “Once you know you are doing this for business development, then you need to start thinking about your target audience,” she said.
“Your profile is your business online, so this is where you have to start offering insights so that a prospect wants to take your call,” said Sally Jo LaMont, VP of Training and Development at Social Sales Link. “Ask this: How is your profile positively impacting the buyer? It should be a resource for your prospects, offering them free consultation right there and earning the right to have that sales call.”
Your Profile Photo
Serdula, the LinkedIn makeover specialist, stressed the importance of the LinkedIn profile photo and shared the advice she gives to her clients:
“The photo should be of your head.”
“The photo should be looking straight ahead with direct eye contact – no extreme angles.”
“You should be smiling. I want to see crow’s feet around your eyes, and I want to see some teeth. A professional photo doesn’t need to be stuffy. When you look relaxed, you look friendly.”
“I tell my clients to get a professional headshot,” said Serdula. “This is how you look to the world. It doesn’t pay to go cheap.”
Bill McCormick, Vice President and LinkedIn Strategist at Social Sales Link, points to a noteworthy statistic (from LinkedIn) pertaining to the profile photo. “A professional headshot will generate 14 times the views within the same industry, as you would receive with an amateur photo.”
“Make use of the billboard behind your profile picture. It is an excellent marketing tool,” added McCormick. “You can put your logo and contact information there. Don’t just use the default background from LinkedIn.”
“The headline should not be a job title. Turn your LinkedIn profile from a resume into a resource for business development by making good use of your headline. You want to tell people in your headline, who you help, how you help them and why they should care. It’s not about you – it’s about them,” said McCormick.
“Why does anyone care that you are Vice President of Sales? They care about how you are going to help them and deliver value to their business,” added LaMont.
The Profile Summary
Serdula advises her clients to always keep the target audience in mind. “A lot of times, we want to tell everyone our whole story and we will just bore them. On LinkedIn, a lot of sales people like to say, “I love prospecting, I love closing, I have no problem asking for the sale,” but let’s think about the target audience, the prospect. Do they want to hear that? No! They want to know how you are entrenched in their industry, that you know how to ask the right questions, that you have spent years researching the different products. They want to know that you can help them reach their goals.”
She says the summary should deliver a clear message.
“This is who I am.”
“This is what I’ve done.”
“This is how I do it.”
“This is why I do it and this is what it means to you.”
“When you write authentically in a very conversational way – that’s when magic happens. That’s when people really resonate toward the message. When they know that you are for real, that’s when they start to reach out,” said Serdula.
McCormick believes that the profile summary should be about challenges and solutions. “Your summary should talk about the challenges that your clients face, then offer some insights on how you solve those problems to show your thought leadership, then tell them how you can help and add a call for action.”
He also advises clients to be visual in their profile – to use rich media. “This is just another way to show prospects the value you can provide.” LaMont also likes the use of video but reminds her clients to keep it short and make sure the viewer gets a valuable “nugget” of information to take away.
Are you lost in LinkedIn?
“People are often lost in LinkedIn,” said LaMont. “They go on LinkedIn, spend an hour and really accomplish nothing. We suggest that you need to have a clear LinkedIn playbook. If I connect with someone, what do I do next? If I offer them a valuable piece of information, what should I do next? Have a plan with the ultimate goals in mind – the phone call, the appointment.”
LaMont cautions about selling too hard. “In a sales capacity – don’t pitch. It doesn’t make anybody feel good and they are never going to want your product if you are out there pitching. You should instead add value, insights and thought leadership to help a prospect with their business even before you ever ask for a phone call.”
“It’s a different world out there,” said Serdula. “People are looking at you. They are researching you. They want to know who they are working with. You have this amazing opportunity within the LinkedIn profile that allows you to create a narrative of who you are, what you do, how you can help and why you love it.”
Considering that LinkedIn reportedly has over 500 million users, it’s not surprising that LinkedIn experts like Serdula, LaMont and McCormick are quite busy. After talking to them, I now have a professional headshot, a revamped headline and I’m working on a new summary. In today’s business climate, their advice makes sense.
Next Month – Part Two – A LinkedIn Engagement Strategy
Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at www.tullioB2B.com focusing on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. He has written over 40 columns and features, providing operators and other entrepreneurs with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up. Currently, Tullio is developing a series of videos that are centered around his speaking presentation…
“Ten Ways to Energize your Sales.”
Phone: 818 261-1758
Email [email protected]