LinkedIn is a virtual networking tool that is currently being used by over 400 million business professionals around the globe. It allows business professionals such as plumbers and contractors to find and be found by other professionals in the plumbing trade. This networking tool is free and can be effective, even in the plumbing industry when used properly. In order to take advantage of the value found on LinkedIn, I will show you how to set it up and use it.
To get started, you will need to create a profile that displays your professional and educational experience, and then you can begin connecting with the people you know. A profile can be as simple as your name. However, if you choose to list little but your name, you will be missing a tremendous opportunity to avail yourself of the two major benefits of a LinkedIn profile—the ability to be found and the opportunity to tell your story.
Plain and simple, profiles should be beefy. For those readers who are old enough, think of the Wendy’s commercial from the ’80s in which the elderly ladies asked “Where’s the beef?” as they looked at a tiny hamburger patty dwarfed by a massive bun. For those of you who are not familiar with the commercial, check it out on YouTube. You’ll find it quite entertaining.
There are four reasons you want your profile to be beefy:
1.Your LinkedIn profile is a place where you can tell your story completely and fully, so that when people are looking at your profile, they will be encouraged to do business with you over your competitors.
They will see the depth and breadth of your experience, your professional recommendations, and the brands you carry, plus your certifications, educational experience, and all the other qualifications you possess that make you the obvious professional to do business with in the marketplace you serve.
I like to refer to a LinkedIn profile as a “resume on steroids.”
In contrast to a traditional resume, which is typically a listing of facts and dates, your LinkedIn profile allows you the opportunity to tell your story.
It should be a narrative of sorts, where you emphasize your experience and high level of credibility. This “resume on steroids” should shout out “I’m the best at this in my market!”
To help tell your story, you can include details about your- self that, while perhaps bordering on personal information, will get across to the viewer who you are as a unique individual. For example, one of my class attendees told me that through the LinkedIn profile of a prospective client, he learned the guy collected wines—and he also found out which one was his favorite. On the day following his proposal presentation, he followed up with a thank you note and included a bottle of—you guessed it—his prospective client’s favorite wine, and the rest is history. He got the order.
2.Every word in your profile is keyword searchable. Thus, having a beefy profile will increase your chances of being found.
As you know from using Google, keyword searching on the Internet is an extremely powerful tool for finding people. Similarly, searching on LinkedIn can produce extremely valuable results. The search function enables you to find people who have certain types of experience, classifications, and/or brands.
In a recent search, I was looking for a person interested in bicycling to join a group of cyclists for a charity event my company was sponsoring.
Discovering a bicycling enthusiast who happens to be an architect or builder would be a home run. I would then be able to advance a professional relationship, help a charitable organization, and enjoy a day of bicycling.
Therefore, I searched the words builder, architect, cycling, and bicycling and instantly had my choice of architects and builders with whom to spend the day. Without those keywords in their profiles, none of these people would have been found.
- A beefy profile shows that you are not a dinosaur. What do I mean by this? For those of us in the Baby Boomer genera- tion, people tend to appreciate the experience we possess, but they are also interested in knowing whether we are keeping abreast of the latest trends in the business world, including social media.
A beefy profile will demonstrate that you are on top of cur- rent trends in your profession or occupation and that you embrace technology. You are not a dinosaur.
4.You should expect your profile to regularly be compared with those of your competitors. Therefore, in order to gain a competitive advantage, you will want your profile to include a plethora of information, keywords, and details about who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and how you might be able to assist others.
Many savvy LinkedIn users will review a person’s profile before meeting with him or her for the first time. Personally, I always look for common interests or discussion points before I jump into, “So, I hear you are looking for a social media consultant.”
Business professionals use their LinkedIn profiles to tell their stories. As a result, it can be extremely beneficial to review the profile of the potential customer, prospective employee, vendor, or other person with whom you desire a business relationship.
Because of the vast amount of information available on the Internet in general and on LinkedIn in particular, it has become commonplace to “shop” several vendors online before engaging in direct communication.
Do yourself a favor and take a look at the profiles of some of your competitors. Observe what they are saying about themselves—awards they have won, certifications they hold, types of projects they have worked on, etc.—because this may jog your memory and remind you of similar information you could include in your profile.
Based on the information contained in the profiles, would a potential customer be encouraged to do business with you as opposed to one of your competitors? If you think your competitor would get the nod, then start beefing up your profile.
Armed with this information, you can begin to create an effective profile—a great first step in maximizing your LinkedIn experience, which can lead to new business opportunities.
About the Author
Wayne Breitbarth is the CEO of Power Formula LLC. He is an experienced businessman, speaker, and author and an internationally recognized industry leader in LinkedIn training, marketing, and consulting.
Wayne has shared his expertise with more than 80,000 business professionals through private business consulting, dynamic presentations to worldwide audiences, and his critically acclaimed book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success (now in its third edition). He has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wired, and American Express Open Forum and seen on NBC and Fox Business.
Wayne works with companies to develop a comprehensive strategy for using LinkedIn to increase sales, raise brand awareness, recruit employees and reduce recruiting fees, and discover new markets for products and services. He shares his proven five-step process for LinkedIn results with individuals through his online course Explode Your Revenues Using LinkedIn.
He is a CPA, received an accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MBA from Marquette University, and has received recognition for his public service in the Milwaukee community, where he resides with his wife of 35 years.