The Australian Businesswomen’s Network often talks about the value of mentors – and in this article, as your Independent LinkedIn Specialist, I will mentor you through the top 20 LinkedIn Techniques for Businesswomen.
1. Stay on purpose
Everything you do on LinkedIn should be aligned with your purpose. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to:
- attract selected clients
- provide information for people who have found you via referral
- build and develop your network
- showcase your expertise . produce an archive of your background
- convert visitors to paying clients
In most cases, most businesswomen want to do all of the above. But each businesswoman will have a slightly different way to achieve their purpose. This process can be aligned with your business strategy. Most of the rest of the suggestions here are related to your tactics to complete your strategy.
2. Make sure your photo matches your purpose
Profiles with a photo are 11 times more likely to be viewed. Unfortunately, many women select seductive photos revealing too much flesh. You don’t need to be covered from head to toe, but you want people to focus on your skills and expertise, not your body. If you are wearing a low cut top and there is no ‘conclusion’ in the photo, the eye will track downwards on the screen and not to the right to read your professional details. You can reflect some of your personality, style and brand, provided again, it matches your purpose. Whilst normally I would suggest that you look at the camera, smile with your teeth showing with a light coloured background and darker coloured clothing and just show your head and shoulders, I have another range of photos that I like because they tell a story and are much more memorable because they are not ‘standard.’ One person I know collected multiple music gigs because their photo included a guitar. A safety manager wearing a safety hat, goggles and a high visibility vest is more ‘believable’ as a safety manager.
3. Keywords, keywords, keywords, keywords, keywords
If you are a ‘revenue optimisation specialist’ and you don’t use these words on your profile in your headline (most important), current job title, skills, interests, summary etc, then how do you expect someone to find you via a search (even if you have the paid account)? If you are an expert in a particular field, make sure you include the ‘old’ jargon as well as the ‘new’ jargon. For example, in the field of IT, people checking website design for people of all abilities were originally called usability specialists. Now they are called UX specialists (user design). That means that all of these words need to be included – usability, UX, user design. One person I know is an expert in women and the glass ceiling. By updating her keywords in relevant locations, she secured two international paid speaking gigs within two weeks. The clearer you can define your purpose and niche, the more likely you can tailor your profile.
4. Complete your entire profile
I know, I know, this can take a minimum of 10 hours to do it properly, but let’s consider the advantages. You will be reminded of all of the wonderful things you have completed and achieved in the past. You only have to do it once (then save your profile to PDF so you have a backup copy). It will increase your search results and your ability to convert visitors to clients. You only have words on a screen to describe yourself, so don’t be shy – if you don’t spell it out, how can viewers find this information? Before you start editing, turn off your activity broadcasts so that your connections are not advised of each change you make. Remember to turn this back on when you are finished. Use short length dot points as much as possible as these are so much easier to read, particularly for people viewing your profile on a mobile device. Just state each item clearly. For example, a possible achievement could be that you were ‘seconded to San Francisco for six months to lead a software development project that was completed ahead of schedule and on budget,’ it clearly states what you did. No bragging included. But if you said ‘always chosen for the best international projects due to my ability to get the job done,’ I have no clue as to what you did or what you achieved and it definitely sounds like bragging.
5. Help the LinkedIn algorithm understand you
Your goal is to not only be found by the people who know you, it is also to be found by the people who don’t know you. So, all roads need to lead to Rome. If you are connected to the thought leaders in your industry or profession, if you have subscribed to the relevant feeds via Pulse, if you have published blogs on LinkedIn related to your expertise, if you are following companies related to your field and if you are in the groups and participating in the discussions, you have multiple variables that ‘match’ the search query. Conversely, if you only mention your interest in your own profile and don’t reach beyond that, the complete picture of you cannot be computed from your activity. Programmers who design search results are trying to give the searcher the best result – so the more your content is aligned, the better your results.
6. Participate in LinkedIn – but don’t try too hard
I recommend that you spend about 15 minutes once a week on LinkedIn (this does not include publishing time if you are writing posts). During this time, you can:
- like, comment or share relevant items in your news feed (provided you have read the content of any links and checked that it is useful)
- add connections (only ignore spammers, I pretty much say yes to everyone else so I can increase my search results)
- participate in a group discussion by adding a useful comment
- endorse one or two people for skills you know they have
- congratulate someone for their promotion (only once a month)
- consider writing a recommendation (again, only once a month)
If you participate too frequently, people will wonder why you are not out there running your business!
7. Measure your performance and complete your maintenance
To measure your performance, keep a manual record, perhaps in your own spreadsheet that you update every three months of the following totals:
- number of connections
- number of views in the last 90 days
- number of leads you have generated
- number of clients you have gained
- any other interesting anecdotes that you will forget if you don’t record them
You need to save your profile to PDF and I recommend that you add today’s date back to front at the beginning of the file name so that you can say, my profile looked like this on this date. You can also export all of your connections to a CSV file and open it in Excel (works best on a PC rather than a Mac) and see the first name, last name, email address, current job title and current company of all of your contacts. This is a great backup to have in case the worst ever happens. You may also like to adjust your communication settings to make sure you don’t receive too many LinkedIn emails.
8. Be consistent in your approach
Now that you have set up LinkedIn and have got into the habit of inviting everyone you meet face to face to join you on LinkedIn, now it is time, as soon as they have accepted your invitation to connect, for you to implement your systems. You can do the following for each connection:
- record how you met, the date and who introduced you
- set up a reminder to follow up with them in a relevant manner either once off or regularly
- give them a tag so that you can sort your connections via that tag
- add a note to their record so that you can remember what you would like to do in the future
- thank them for accepting your invitation and provide them with something useful to get the relationship off to a good start
I have chosen to have a range of useful and free information publicly available on my website and on various social media profiles. If the person never wants to pay for my services because they think they can do it all on their own, that is fine. However, they may not want to provide that service to someone else. So if they have a good experience with me, even if they do not purchase from me, they may refer someone else to me in the future if they have had a good experience with me. There is a well-known principle in sales. Most people give up by the sixth communication – and yet many sales occur after the seventh interaction – don’t give up too early!
9. Maintain your existing relationships
Don’t waste all of your time trying to source new people. There is a well-known principle in marketing – the best source of new business is your existing clients! So think of ways that LinkedIn can help you reach your existing clients and provide them with value through the platform. Provide useful information related to your area of expertise without the hard sell. You can ‘sort’ your connections by tag and email up to 50 people directly. If you have more than 50 in that category, I suggest you also sort them by first name, tick 50, prepare your message, untick the box to share contact details and send the email. Then repeat for the next 50 connections. Many people change their contact details over time, but most people appear to keep their email address current on LinkedIn – so don’t lose your clients when they fall off your database, see if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
10. Integrate LinkedIn with your business processes
I am finding that more and more people are unsubscribing from email newsletters because they are just receiving too much content in their inbox. However, I have managed to convert around 50% of these people into connections on LinkedIn by inviting them to connect with me via their email address. This way, they can still be subtly reminded of my services but not have their inbox full of emails that may no longer be relevant.