We often hear marketing and sales reps expressing their love / hate relationship with LinkedIn. Are you one who views the site as social stalking for business professionals?

If you’re a user that only checks the site to look up a prospect’s credentials or check a connection request email, you are missing valuable opportunities to grow professionally, grow your sales leads and ultimately, grow your business.

The benefits of using LinkedIn go beyond prospecting and recruiting and the site can also be an incredible inbound marketing tool. I tapped into the knowledge of LinkedIn expert, Wayne Breitbarth, who shared a few tips on the following features that you should be utilizing.

Making Yourself Irresistible 

Like most social platforms, LinkedIn is constantly evolving and adding features to help you get the most out of connecting with others, typically for professional reasons. Consider using these features to your advantage by giving your profile a professional makeover. Features that will help position you as an expert in your respective area include:

1) Keywords

Incorporating keywords will boost your SEO and help you become found on LinkedIn and your LinkedIn profile found by search engines. Consider the ideal person your profile would speak to, your buyer personas and if your profile were side by side with another, what words would make you stand out. Have these words thought-out and ready when you create or edit your profile.

Areas to incorporate great keywords include your headline, summary, interests, job titles, job descriptions and skills. A keyword-centric headline will boost your profile traffic and makes you more appealing to prospective employers.

Your summary should include keywords that are relevant with your goals and objectives in your area of business. Your interests area is under the additional info area on your profile and another place to incorporate even more keywords related to your business or career goals.

2) Recommendations & Endorsements

Recommendations can be a critical part of your LinkedIn profile while endorsements have seemed to just confuse people. That said, both play a role in how you are found during advanced people searches. Endorsements make it easy for a connection to quickly say that you are experienced in a certain area without putting in the time to write a full recommendation.

The fact that it is so easy for a connection to endorse someone makes some LinkedIn users, especially recruiters, dismiss the authenticity of the expertise. Endorsements do however add to your presence on LinkedIn and can be thought of as a pantry full of your best keywords. There may be some cases where endorsements for specific skills should actually be hidden so no one can see it if it is an expertise that you do not feel is a good reflection on your personal positioning.

To hide an endorsement, go to the pull-down menu at the top of the screen and under “profile,” click “edit profile.” When you scroll to the “skills and endorsements” section, you will see a pencil icon. Click the pencil and you will see an option to “manage endorsements.” Simply hit the “X” next to the skill you would like to delete.

Recommendations are important to your profile because the number of recommendations you receive is highlighted at the top of your page when your name appears in a listing of group members. The number of recommendations you have is also a criteria factor for search rankings.

Oftentimes, recommendations can only be acquired if you ask someone to provide one. Be sure the writer include specifics such as the results of your work together, sales increases or how your expertise was put to use. Always thank the connection that provides a recommendation.

3) Professional Gallery with work examples, photos, video & use of Slideshare

If you’d like to really stand out on LinkedIn and attract more business opportunities, a great way to get noticed is through visual content and creating a portfolio of work examples. There are a few ways you can create a portfolio by adding project examples, images, embedded video and slideshare presentations to your profile page. Here’s a video that will walk you through the process of creating your LinkedIn professional portfolio. 

4) Use Your Profile Link

One way to customize your LinkedIn profile is by acquiring your unique URL. By not customizing your profile, you limit your exposure to prospective connections, partners and clients. Having a unique URL also improves your ability to be found on search engines and when users are doing targeted people searches. Each LinkedIn user is automatically given a default address when you setup your profile. A customized address is much easier to remember and use when directing people to your LinkedIn profile.

Building a Bigger Following

For yourself:

5) Use the How You’re Connected tool (a.k.a. the six degrees of Kevin Bacon tool)

The “How You’re Connected” tool on your profile page helps introduce you to other LinkedIn users that may be connected to you or other connections you have. Now when you visit someone’s profile, the tool allows you to see who in your network knows that person, and how he or she know each other. Using this tool is a great way to view people you want to be connected with and who might be the best person to ask to make an introduction.

6) Perform targeted searches with advanced people finder

LinkedIn is more and more becoming a database for finding people, connecting with prospective business associates and individuals with very specific competencies and keywords included in their profile. Searches can be performed by typing a person’s name, keywords or titles into the search box at the top of the page. Advanced searches can be performed by using specific criteria such as location, school, industry, etc. Click the “advanced” link at the right of the search box or the top of the search results page.

For your business:

7) Create a company page, use the new showcase pages and review your analytics

Creating a company page not only allows a business to provide the latest company and industry news, event information, and job opportunities, it also helps position your business and its employees as experts within your industry. Registering and maintaining a company page is an incredible opportunity for businesses that not only to recruit the best, but also establish a thought leadership position in their industry.

Here is an easy step-by-step guide to setup a LinkedIn company page. Another great feature of the company page is the ability to collect insightful analytics regarding the level of engagement for individual posts, trends across key metrics and follower demographics.

LinkedIn recently introduced a new feature for companies called showcase pages. These pages allow companies to target different buyer personas by providing single pages that focus on specific products, product categories and services. For example, a hair salon may have different showcase pages for product lines, service offerings, seasonal trends, etc.

8) Alumni search function

The Alumni search function is a great tool to find people associated with a particular school, industry or location. Visit the Alumni tool and your college or university will be selected which will then allow you to break down connections by “where they work,” “what they do,” and “where they live.” Additional categories include “where they studied,” “what they are skilled at,” and “how you are connected.”

9) Don’t be a stalker – create personal relationships

Use the who’s viewed your profile feature to increase visibility, discover new opportunities and check out analytics to see specifics about the people who have viewed your profile. With this tool there are basic and premium features – the basic version (free) allows you to see where your five most recent viewers work and live, how they found you, their industry and job titles and keywords that led to you.

The premium version (paid) allows you to see your list of viewers from the past 90 days as well as trends and insights. By using the who’s viewed your profile feature, you are better able to customize content shared on your profile, identify valuable connection prospects and reach out to people in a more personal way.

Gaining and Imparting Knowledge

10) Joining groups makes you more visible 

One of the easiest ways to boost your profile and personal brand on LinkedIn is to connect with other professionals in similar industries, with similar interests and with the competencies or connections you are looking to target. A great way to connect and exchange ideas is with LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn allows a user to join up to 50 groups – and it is highly recommended from a SEO, personal branding and search-ability standpoint that you join the 50 groups that are best for you.

By joining groups you have a strengthened opportunity to position yourself and your business as an expert in your respective field or industry. To get the most out of a group, post relevant information and contribute by commenting on other’s input. Be conscientious of posting information that could be considered overly sales-y or spam – it is against group rules and a horrible way to try to get members’ attention.

11) Appropriate and thoughtful posts

Sharing content on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your knowledge as well as provide your expertise that can help other connections. When you share a post, provide information on the relevance to your audience or group. If you’d like to share a post with a group, be sure to check the “post to groups” checkbox and include a question or comment that will encourage member engagement.

Social networking sites are changing every day and LinkedIn is at the forefront of channels adding new features and engagement tools to improve content sharing, relationship development, recruitment and lead generation.

How are you using LinkedIn as an inbound marketing strategy and what new features do you find most useful?

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Originally published Apr 21, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated April 10 2019