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Practical Social Selling: Fix Your LinkedIn Profile

 

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If you have been on LinkedIn for awhile, you probably have noticed that the platform has undergone extensive changes.  Even the nature of LinkedIn profiles has changed.  Once just a place to put up your resume and forget about it until a recruiter called or you needed a job, LinkedIn has become a legitimate social network for professionals.

For most B2B sales professionals, the LinkedIn profile is the starting point for finding opportunities and for being found.  With over 300 million profiles, there is a good chance that your prospects are on LinkedIn.  Outside of certain niche fields and industries, not having a profile is now more of an anomaly.

The other thing is that in this age of the buyer, customers expect to see LinkedIn profiles for the sales team and other company representatives.  Just as you are researching your customers, they are researching you and your company.  If you are invisible on LinkedIn, it creates a question mark in the minds of potential customers, and questions marks can be unnecessary distractions in a deal.

Therefore, it is baffling that B2B sales reps are not maximizing the potential of LinkedIn.  Even in 2015, as I peruse the profiles, I see many common mistakes.  This is your BRAND folks, so it pays to take care of it and control the way you professionally present yourself to the world.

Good news is that these are easily addressable and the impact can have huge upsides in your selling.  At the very least, having a complete profile shows that you are savvy on modern selling techniques and social platforms.  It also helps garner more attention for you when you are ready to explore new opportunities.

So here is a check list of ten things for sales professionals to help get your LinkedIn profile in order:

  1. Picture – Visuals matter and having a nice, professional photo makes a difference. With a high powered camera in every mobile phone, there is simply no excuse.  Yet there are people that forego a photo entirely or put up the worst photos I have ever seen.  If the best photo of you is one which you have to crop out others or is blurry or is of your cat, you are doing something terribly wrong.
  2. Current Position – I have seen people update their headline and yet neglect to add that role as a position in the experience section, or vice versa. This is simply confusing and leads one to ask where you do actually work.  As an aside, you should also have some content attached to your current job such as what your company does and why it is so great for the benefit of people reviewing your profile. Remember, prospects could be check out your profile.
  3. Links – LinkedIn gives you numerous opportunities to add other websites to your profile, including links to other social networks like Twitter. If you have an active Twitter account, why not include that on your profile?  You can also add your blog, company website, and other projects, whatever you like, so make sure to take full advantage of the space.
  4. Personal URL – Not a lot of people realize you can personalize the link to your profile. It is simple to do and usually you can find your name or some combination thereof to use.  Maybe it is not a big deal, but it does add to the overall impression of you as social media savvy.
  5. Public Profile – If you are in sales and you are making your profile private, then why bother having a profile to begin with? You do not have to make all your information public, but at the very least you should have a profile that is easy to find.  Make sure you open up your profile and let yourself be found.
  6. Summary – I see a lot of blank summary sections, but this is the perfect opportunity to tell your “professional” story about who you are and why you do it. People want to know what makes you tick, and this is where you do that.  Make is professional, but also make it approachable and personable and authentic.  Nothing is worse than a profile that is over-the-top promotional and reads more like an ad.
  7. Recommendations – This is another section that is often blank, but having even a few people that vouch for you publicly bolsters the impression you leave in people’s minds. We look to social proof and validation, so a few positive shout outs ease any concerns.
  8. Long Scroll – Some people are really trying too hard, and you can see that with profiles that are more kitchen sink rather than hitting the highlights. The more stuff you add, the more it all averages out, which in turn makes you look average.  Trim it down, remove old jobs and irrelevant positions and focus only on the successes.  Remember, your profile is not a CV, but a way of positioning yourself as a successful and knowledgeable sales executive.
  9. Posts – Before only available to designated “thought leaders”, LinkedIn now allows anyone to post an article which is then shared across the network. However, surprisingly few take advantage of this feature, which gives you an opportunity to stand out with thoughtful content.  Even if you are not one for writing, you can still post links to quality articles and be seen as an expert on a particular topic.  The best way to do this is to use your company’s content or to share relevant blog posts you like.
  10. Contact Information – You can provide your contact information on LinkedIn and have that information available all your contacts. Trouble is some folks include no information or have old information listed, for example listing your .edu email as the primary email.  Make your contact information current and also share a subset of your work information publicly to make it easy for your prospects to find you.

There are plenty of more advanced techniques for getting more juice out of your LinkedIn profile, but it is important to get the basics right.  At a minimum, you should have the above ten items nailed down.

What other ideas and tips do you have for bolstering one’s LinkedIn profile?  Please share, I would love to hear what other savvy social sellers are doing to stand out from the crowd.

 


 

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by C_osett

About the author: Mark Birch

Mark is an early stage technology investor and entrepreneur based in NYC. Through Birch Ventures, he works with a portfolio of early stage B2B SaaS technology startups providing both capital and guidance in the areas of marketing, sales, strategic planning and funding.

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