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June 7, 2013

Essential LinkedIn Tips for Business Professionals

Earlier this month, social media giant LinkedIn celebrated its 10th anniversary. With more than 225 million members in 200 countries, they have plenty of reasons to celebrate. In many ways, LinkedIn is arguably the most important social media platform for businesses – yes, even more so than Twitter and Facebook.

Why? Dollars and sense. The average household income per LinkedIn user is $109,000, which dramatically trumps similar stats on all other major social media sites. LinkedIn means business. And your business should have a serious presence if success is on the menu.

Reid Hoffman, creator of LinkedIn, wrote this on their blog to celebrate the milestone: “Our vision at LinkedIn is to create economic opportunity for every professional in the world.”

With ten years of an immensely enviable track record, Hoffman and his team are well on their way. As the biggest business networking site in the world, the tone and attitude on LinkedIn is far more polished and intelligent than their competitors. People are more business-minded when they interact, and even the status updates reflect this focus. This means any self-respecting business has to have a best-foot-forward presence on LinkedIn, and we’ve got just the tips to help you maximize the opportunity.

The Top Corporate LinkedIn Sites

In late 2012, LinkedIn named the 12 best LinkedIn company pages for the year. Before you polish up your company’s LinkedIn profile, it’s first wise to dissect what the big dogs are doing right.

According to LinkedIn, the following companies have profiles worth emulating:

  • Adobe
  • Aurecon
  • CNBC
  • HireVue
  • HubSpot
  • Insead
  • The IT Media Group
  • Magna Powertrain
  • Pacific Dental Services
  • Tata Consultancy Services
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Xactly Corporation

As you peruse these pages, you’ll notice a few things they do better than the rest:

1) 100% complete, current, and well-written profiles – Even a small amount of outdated content on a business profile looks unprofessional and is a major turnoff. These companies all ensure content is compelling, well-crafted, and featuring up-to-the-minute accurate data. Furthermore, overused words like “innovative” and “dynamic” are rarely seen on these profiles. They insert their own branding personality without sounding generic.

2) Frequent, smart, and compelling status updates – CNBC is especially adept at crafting eye-catching status updates that are appropriate for the LinkedIn community. Many businesses use tools like HootSuite to consolidate their status updates across all social media platforms, but this can be a grave mistake. Each site has a vastly different audience, and should be treated as such. Those who paste more frivolous and silly updates to LinkedIn are often not taken seriously. It’s not that every status update on the site needs to be polished and dry, but certainly professional and on-point, with or without a sense of humor. Too many sound generic, and writing all things for all people ends up turning off most of them.

3) Loads of current job listings and information about employees – The Walt Disney Company is aces at using LinkedIn as a hiring mecca, with highlighted career opportunities and a really enticing feel to their content. LinkedIn can be the single best source for finding reliable and talented employees, but keep in mind how competitive the landscape is for top candidates. You therefore need to work hard to entice these folks to choose you over the other companies, and your profile can go a long way to communicating your unique offerings.

4) Well optimized content for search – Great profiles use plenty of industry standard keywords and are therefore prominent in relevant search results. Make sure your profile reads and flows well, and is loaded with commonly used terms in your industry, so when people are looking for your services, you rank high on the results. All of LinkedIn’s top choices here do this well.

Essential LinkedIn Profile Elements for Every Business

Now that you’ve gotten an eyeful from the experts, here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you complete your top-notch LinkedIn profile:

1) Showcase the most important details front and center – Your company’s core strengths and competencies should be clearly articulated and displayed above the fold. Name who you are, what you offer, and speak directly to your ideal client, right out of the gate. Make sure to include easy to locate contact information too.

2) Share timely industry-relevant information – In an effort to add value to your visitors, and take away from the narcissistic feel a typical profile can evoke, showcase links to headlines in your industry. This improves your engagement factor, and if you solicit feedback as well, can deepen your brand’s value and emotional connection to your customers. The best way to execute this is through status updates, but you can include major, more evergreen pieces in your profile too.

3) Recommend, and be recommended – The recommendations section of LinkedIn is one of their more powerful features. The more testimonials you showcase from past clients and customers, the more credible and reliable you appear. That said, to receive these in the most gracious manner, you should be writing loads of recommendations for others too; as long as they are sincere. Don’t just mass mail folks requesting a recommendation, write one for them first and they will be more inclined to return the favor with a glowing endorsement.

4) Create and join appropriate groups – There a hundreds of LinkedIn groups for just about any industry, and they provide a valuable and educational means of networking with folks in your niche. If you don’t see a group for your specific specialty, create your own; it’s straightforward and free. Groups allow you to customize frequency of correspondence, and provide things like job opportunities, industry news, and thoughtful questions and comments from your peers.

5) Add advanced applications – LinkedIn has plenty of valuable applications to add to your profile, too. These apps do everything from help keep you more organized, integrate with social media channels and calendars, and assist in getting your message out to even more eager readers. To see which apps might be relevant for you, visit the applications section and have fun experimenting with the various options.

Celebrate LinkedIn’s first decade by making your profile work even harder for your business. With just a little time and expertise, you can learn to master LinkedIn’s incredibly valuable demographic, and use the site as the powerhouse marketing tool that it really is.

Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.