I like LinkedIn: I like the platform it gives me and the networking opportunities it offers. But sometimes I find myself scrolling down my home feed or browsing people’s profiles and just shaking my head. Can it really be the case that even after all this time (it was launched in 2003) people still don’t know how to use it?
Of course it’s true that recruiters use it. It’s a great place for finding new talent. But it’s not a recruitment site.
It’s also not the place to continually share your grievances, gripes or what you had for lunch. There are other social networks far better suited to that.
It is absolutely not the place for flirting. Come on, guys.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. And if you’re a salesperson, who are you looking to network with? That’s right: Customers. You may use LinkedIn to research your customers but remember customers will do the same for their suppliers.
So does your LinkedIn profile appeal to customers?
It may be that when you first set up your profile you were looking at it from a different perspective. Maybe you were ‘seeking new opportunities’ or you thought the profile page was the online equivalent of a CV and you had to stick to the traditional format. If that’s the case, it’s worth taking a look back over your profile now and asking yourself how it would read to a customer considering doing business with you. For example:
- Does your heading accurately describe what you do? (Hint: it doesn’t have to be your actual job title – you can embellish)
- Does your headshot look professional, and is it more or less in date?
- Have you included a summary?
- Does your description of current and past experience emphasize your customers?
- Are people willing to recommend you?
Let’s take a quick look at each of these in turn to work out how you can use your LinkedIn profile to attract new customers.
Some job titles are meaningless outside of the organization in which you work, while others are fairly self-explanatory. If yours is the former, use this space to spell out for the customer what it is you do. For example, I use: ‘I help sales teams sell more’, which is what Sales Enablement is all about. And since the heading is searchable – as are all the text fields in the profile – I’ve also used some additional key words that briefly describe our business.
As mentioned above, LinkedIn is not a dating site. The photo you choose for your profile should represent your professional self, from the clothes you’re wearing to the expression on your face. A plain background is best and the picture should be head and shoulders. We want to be able to recognize you if we see you at an event. (To the person using a photo from a skiing holiday – complete with goggles – what are you thinking??)
You also have the option to add a cover picture, and you should take it. Remember, people love visuals. This could be your corporate logo, a picture of you speaking at an event, your contact and social media details, etc. Whatever you choose, make it relevant to your personal brand as a sales professional.
Lots of people are uncomfortable writing about themselves and may even think if they’re not in the market for a new job there’s no point including the summary. That’s simply not true. Forbes calls the summary the homepage of the brand called ‘you’. What kind of website doesn’t have a homepage?
Use the summary to give the reader – your customer – an insight into what you can do, what makes you tick and what makes you qualified to win their business. Keep it simple, and try to keep the focus on the customer rather than on yourself. Still not sure what to write? HubSpot has some templates especially for salespeople.
Not everyone is going to get this far down your page – mostly they want to know what kind of person you are so they know whether they want to do business with you, and they should be able to get this from the summary. However, for the benefit of those who do want to know about your professional history, use this section to highlight your customer success stories in your previous positions. But remember, your customer doesn’t want to know about the major deal you signed – they want to know how this helped the customer who signed it. They are looking at you as a potential ally, so show them the experience you have that makes you fit for the job.
Recommendations from your boss or former colleagues are nice and they do help show customers what kind of person you are, but what you really want is recommendations from other customers. It’s as valuable to your personal brand as a testimonial is to your business. If you’ve done a good job and you know your customer is pleased, there’s no need to be shy about requesting a recommendation. It will go a long way to reassuring any potential customers that you are someone they can trust with their business.
Congratulations! You have successfully updated your profile and your potential customers can see you are someone they should connect with. Now, here are a few guidelines to help you make the most of this refreshed online presence:
- LinkedIn is a networking site – so get out there and network! Comment on people’s posts; interact in groups; add value to discussions wherever you can.
- Update your profile every once in a while to keep things fresh and relevant.
- Write some long-form posts to build your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader.
- Try not to make it all about you – adding value means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and delivering what they want/need to know.
Good luck! We’d love to hear if updating your profile made a difference to you!