A Quick Guide to LinkedIn Basics

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By Katherine (Katie) Bows Taylor

Don’t Underestimate the Power of LinkedIn

Are you utilizing LinkedIn? Too many businesses ignore this powerful B2B platform that currently has more than 177 million users in the United States. Many business owners (and professionals in general) have a weak personal profile and an even weaker LinkedIn company page – if they have one at all. When was the last time you reviewed your personal profile? What about your company page? Most of the time, these tools aren’t fully utilized because they aren’t understood. If you need a crash course on LinkedIn, read on…

LinkedIn Profile vs. LinkedIn Company Page

Personal Profile
A robust personal profile is a must if you’re in the business of finding new business. Through a personal page, you can connect to and interact with your target audience on a one-on-one basis. A LinkedIn personal profile allows you to:

  • Connect with other LinkedIn members. A robust network of connections is essential if you are trying to generate leads for new business. Tip: quality over quantity should be the goal.
  • Send private messages. The messaging function is particularly useful when trying to cultivate a relationship with an existing connection. (With a paid account, you can contact anyone on LinkedIn even if you are not connected.)
  • Publish content. This feature aids in establishing your personal brand by publishing and sharing insights, accomplishments and other news. You also have the ability to post images, videos and links to articles.
  • Actively engage. You can view content published by or commented on by your connections and participate in conversations, further elevating your visibility and expertise.

Company Page
If you own a business, you need a LinkedIn company page in addition to a robust personal profile. While a company page will never replace the importance of a personal profile in terms of the ability to generate new business leads, you still need one. Think of your company page as more of a “business directory” listing. Maintaining an updated, professional company page builds awareness and promotes your brand. Key features include:

  • Ability to post company news. Share what’s happening in your business on a regular basis. Include images and links to content whenever possible. Posting regularly shows your company is active and helps prospective customers and prospective employees get to know you.
  • Employees can follow the page. Even if you only have a few employees, it’s great for them to follow your company page. Most importantly, when you post news, have employees like and share the posts so their personal connections see the posts in their feeds. This is the multiplier effect at its best. Your company page may only have a few followers, but if your employees like a post and share a post and they each have hundreds of personal connections, think about the brand exposure you are creating. In addition, there is a link on the company page that visitors can click to view employees who work at your company that are on LinkedIn.
  • The more you post, the more followers you will get. As you become more active, you will grow the number of followers of your company page and these individuals will see what you post in their personal feeds.
  • Ask your connections to follow your page. LinkedIn has just made this even easier with a new feature that allows a company page administrator to ask their connections to follow a company page.
  • Build brand awareness. When employees list your company as their employer, your logo automatically populates next to their position on their personal profile page.

Tips for creating a strong personal profile and company page

Personal Profile
  • Include a recent, professional headshot
  • Upload a cover image to replace the default
  • Complete every section and provide informative descriptions about your current role and previous experience
  • Use keywords/search terms in your headline
  • Follow company pages of businesses and organizations in which you are interested
Company Page
  • Include your logo
  • Upload a cover image to replace the default
  • Provide a short description of your services in the header
  • Use keywords/search terms on your header
  • Complete the “About” section
  • Provide location information

Learning the ins and outs of LinkedIn can definitely take some time; however, the return over the long run can be worth it. And keep in mind the power of search in today’s world. Make sure you include searchable keywords in your personal profile headline as LinkedIn profiles can display near the top of the page on Google and other search engines. In addition, keywords are important for all searches within LinkedIn.

About the Author
Katie Taylor is an independent marketing, communications, and branding consultant. After more than 20 years in various marketing roles, she formed her own consulting business in 2013 and offers an outsourced marketing solution for small-to medium-sized B2B and B2C entities across a range of segments including professional services, financial services, retail, nonprofits, and associations, among others. From brand discovery to developing and executing marketing plans, Katie serves as an extension of her clients’ teams, helping them implement marketing strategies that achieve results. In addition, she serves as a strategic marketing and branding resource for agencies needing to tap into additional marketing expertise. www.kbtaylormarketing.com