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Sandra_006_Full_SizeProfessionals are often told how important LinkedIn is for building a strong network and creating a personal brand. But what are the best ways to use LinkedIn? I asked LinkedIn expert, Sandra Long, to share some tips.

1. What are the major benefits of LinkedIn for professionals working in corporate settings?

Log into LinkedIn and connect to the premier online professional business community. People are joining LinkedIn now at a rate of 2 per second. There are currently over 380 million professionals using LinkedIn.

Corporate executives want to connect with customers, partners, suppliers, co-workers, potential new candidates, and industry colleagues. If you are not participating, your competitors will have a clear advantage.

LinkedIn is not just for recruiting and job search. Buying and selling practices have changed drastically over the past decade. “Social Selling” is now replacing cold calling and telemarketing efforts. Industry leaders, speakers, and writers are being found and recruited on LinkedIn.

Today’s savvy executives are positioning themselves to be “social leaders.’ They are engaging with customers, leveraging new platforms and sharing content as experts.

2. In your experience, do most people create good LinkedIn profiles?

I see a very wide spectrum of profiles. A significant portion of the profiles I look at need work or what I like to call a “strategic upgrade.” Many profiles are not complete or woefully out of date. LinkedIn also introduces new features regularly, so it’s important to showcase your talents in the best way possible. One example of this is the cover banner introduced in 2014, which many people are still not using.

3. If not, what do they need to improve?

Many LinkedIn profiles need to be more strategic. LinkedIn users should think first about their personal brand. LinkedIn is the very best platform for corporate executives to demonstrate their professional brand online. The headline and summary are two key areas that are often under-utilized and yet extremely important. The summary section allows for up to 2000 characters. The headline will default to your experience title unless you change it. The headline and summary should both be very strategic and in sync with each other using relevant keywords in a very natural and interesting way. Corporate executives often have the opportunity to leverage company marketing assets for their profile including YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and images.

4. What opportunities do they miss as a result?

The number one reason that companies or individuals contact me about LinkedIn is that they don’t want to miss any business or career opportunities. For companies, that usually means sales, referrals, hiring and partnering opportunities. Also, companies want their executives to be selected to speak and participate in industry forums. Being visible and active on LinkedIn is often the best way to stay top of mind with industry leaders.

Sales, career, speaking, teaching, leadership, collaboration, hiring, mentoring, and referral opportunities are being missed by individuals who are not actively participating in LinkedIn.

5. What are your top 3 tips to build visibility on LinkedIn?

  1. Have a 100% complete profile that includes a professional headshot photograph and keywords that match your brand. Use natural customer friendly language.
  2. Incorporate LinkedIn into your daily routine by connecting, recommending, and helping your professional network. Be active online, but learn the proper etiquette about connecting, joining groups and sharing content.
  3. Share content and consider publishing blog articles on LinkedIn. Make sure that you are publishing blog posts in the publisher platform, and not making announcements.

Keeping visible and active on LinkedIn will lead to more opportunity for your business and yourself.

6. Can you tell us more about proper LinkedIn etiquette?

Your online presence is determined by more than just your profile. Your actions and activity also create your professional image. It’s important to know the proper etiquette for every social media platform. Each one has certain nuances.

One of the most important things you can do is to send personalized connection invitations and not rely on the default message provided by LinkedIn. Also, avoid any “spam” messaging or blatant self-promotion in the LinkedIn messaging system called InMail or as a status update. Be especially careful what content you share in LinkedIn Groups as many of them have specific rules outlining what is allowed.

Content that is suitable for Facebook is not always right for LinkedIn. For example, stay away from posting family photos, pets, food or anything overly personal in nature. Avoid participating in contests on LinkedIn. All of these posts will show up in the news feed for your connections. Do share appropriate professional content that is helpful to others and that builds your credibility.

It’s a good idea to learn all of the LinkedIn etiquettes to help build your professional online brand. Combine your networking and etiquette effort with a complete professional LinkedIn profile,

Sandra Long is a speaker, corporate trainer, and LinkedIn expert. For more information about her services, please check out her website.