business networking with linkedin

LinkedIn is often referred to as the “Facebook of Business” but it is so much more than that. There is some social aspect to LinkedIn. You can send messages through LinkedIn, carry on conversations through groups and use the Update feature much like a Twitter or Facebook post. The focus on LinkedIn, though, is clearly business.  And if you are in business and looking to move ahead in the business world, you need to be on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not only a business networking site, but is used by both recruiters and job seekers. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or working for a large corporation, LinkedIn can benefit your business.

In order to take advantage of LinkedIn, you need to first complete your LinkedIn profile.  Today’s post will provide you with the how-to so you can build a productive profile.

Completing your profile means using your real name—yes, the one you use in the business world. Good business relationships are built on trust and trust is built through honesty and integrity. Not using your real name will NOT build trust and will not benefit you in business. If you have a legitimate reason that you are afraid to reveal your real name on social media for business, you probably shouldn’t be there at all.

You need a headline. The headline is a brief, keyword rich description of what you do. Pick a few of the most relevant keywords that describe what you want to be known for (professionally, of course) on LinkedIn.

To complete your profile, you need to include at least your current job with a brief description of what you do. You also need a photo. It should be a headshot and should look professional. A cell phone pic from last week’s happy hour or last summer’s beach vacation will not help your professional image.  If you need to know what constitutes a professional business portrait, read this.

Next, you need to craft a summary. This is the part where you get to tell people who you are and what you can do for them and their business. Here are a couple of examples of well-written, creative summaries to give you an idea of the possibilities. Rod Arnold,  Carla Gardiner. And mine–just in case you’re interested: Marie Leslie

After your summary, complete your experience. LinkedIn will ask you about each job that you list and give you the opportunity to complete a description. Be concise and be sure to include key words and phrases that relate to your industry and that you want to be found with.

You will also have the opportunity to list your Skills and Expertise. This section can be critical to showing up in the search results. These would be key skills and abilities that might catch the eye of a recruiter or headhunter. You can list up to 50. Beyond job skills, you might include language skills and certifications in this section.

Your education section should be self-explanatory. List college degrees and additional training here. If you’ve been to college, there’s really no need to list your high school experience. Recruiters, potential business associates and customers aren’t likely to be interested.

The recommendation section is an important but often overlooked part of the LinkedIn profile. Ask colleagues, customers and friends with whom you do business or have done business to give you a LinkedIn recommendation.  Good recommendations boost your credibility and help build your reputation.

Once you have a completed profile, you are ready to really do business on LinkedIn, to get involved in groups and begin making connections. The next posts in this series will talk about the benefits of LinkedIn groups and how to make the most of them, as well as connecting and using LinkedIn to build your business network.

Are you using LinkedIn? How has it worked for you? What are the good and bad points of your experience? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

And if you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn, you’ll find me here.

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