Once thought of as a social media outlet for individual professionals, LinkedIn has been rapidly gaining traction as a resource for companies to promote and market themselves. For independent consultants - those who fall somewhere in between individuals and businesses - there are a number of outstanding benefits LinkedIn can offer to help you build your brand and promote your consultancy. Here are five tips for a business of one to keep in mind to succeed on LinkedIn.
A LinkedIn profile is an excellent opportunity for an independent consultant to put their education, experience, accreditations and specialties on display. By leaving your profile incomplete - or not keeping it updated - you are keeping valuable information about your qualifications hidden from people who may be interested in hiring you.
Take the time to fill out your LinkedIn profile completely. Though it may look daunting, it's not as difficult as it seems; in fact, most resume formats can be uploaded into the system to automatically fill out the sections on education and employment experience. When anything changes - you take on a new client, complete a certification, add a specialty to your repertoire, or anything else - make sure to update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your recent accomplishments.
When filling out or updating your profile, don't forget to include keywords in your summary sections for LinkedIn to enhance search engine optimization (SEO). Adding keywords and phrases that are relevant to your skills and specialties optimizes your profile for search, meaning your profile will be listed when someone searches LinkedIn, or the internet, for those words. Dedicating a few extra minutes of your time to researching and adding applicable keywords can make a big difference in highlighting your value as an independent consultant.
While having a complete profile posted on LinkedIn is an excellent start, it's important to take advantage of the other social features on LinkedIn.
Use LinkedIn status updates to share valuable and interesting content with your network. You can link to your own blog posts, give updates on recent developments, or even just share interesting and relevant news. Join LinkedIn Groups to maintain an active and visible presence on the social network while making connections and sharing information with peers and colleagues. These groups provide another avenue to connect with new people. When you are active on LinkedIn, you spread your reach, show expertise, and build a powerful network.
As an independent consultant, it is crucial to use every opportunity to promote yourself with social media and other marketing efforts so you are easy to find online. Consider including a link to your LinkedIn page on your website, on blogs and newsletters, on other social networking profiles, and even in your email signature. Using this integrated approach will also improve your online search relevance - meaning that your name will be closer to the top of the page when prospective clients search for someone with your qualifications.
LinkedIn is an excellent way for an independent consultant to link back to their website and other social media accounts, as well as to post and share specific blog posts with their network. This will help boost "brand" awareness. Remember, as an independent consultant, you are your brand.
When someone gives you a recommendation on LinkedIn, it tells those who view your profile that you are who you say you are, and gives credibility to your skills and expertise. Recommendations also serve as references for those who want to know more about your reputation with peers, colleagues and clients.
The key to getting quality recommendations is to be proactive. By writing recommendations for others, you give them the incentive to return the favor. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a recommendation, if appropriate. When sending a request through LinkedIn, make sure that your message is professional, personalized and informative - if it's been awhile since you worked together, include a quick reminder about who you are and what project you worked on together.
When you work as an independent consultant, your business depends on your reputation. Your reputation is based on connecting and working with the right people. Use LinkedIn to reach out to industry leaders and peers who may provide advice, assistance or referrals, and to stay in touch with past and current colleagues and clients. Having these contacts in your network gives you an easy way to update them on new developments in your career, which keeps you on their radar.
This strong network of contacts is also an effective way to market yourself. Don't overlook opportunities to put your connections to work for you by asking them to share your status updates or latest blog posts, or request a recommendation, as mentioned above. If you're currently looking for referrals, or a partner for a particular project, don't hesitate to reach out to your LinkedIn network. You never know how a connection can work to your advantage.
Do you want to learn more about using LinkedIn to attract new clients? During our webinar, "LinkedIn for Independent consultants: 5 Steps to Enhance Your Profile & Bring in More Clients," LinkedIn expert Melissa Washington covered the steps you need to take to get started, from writing a compelling headline and using the right keywords to making the right connections and gaining powerful recommendations. Learn how to use LinkedIn to take your networking to the next level by watching the webinar recording.
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