“We all need to be on LinkedIn!”
As entrepreneurs and professionals, most of us agree.
And even then, a mere presence isn’t good enough. Just yesterday, a mompreneur who needs a job on the side, mentioned to me that she needed to update her Linkedin profile, which she had not ‘touched in ages!’
But given the challenges of time, tasks and bandwidth, most of us tend to focus on what we believe is really critical to our business growth.
So the real question is the relevance of LinkedIn for women entrepreneurs. Is it a ‘nice to have’ or can it really help? Plenty of entrepreneurs I work with, wonder about the serious benefits of Linkedin for business.
‘I actually get all my traffic from Instagram. Or, FB groups is my top source for leads.’ Or even, ‘Individual and on-ground networking is the only way business happens for me!’
All true and sensible. Just not enough.
Today, LinkedIn is the default validation for the professional you!
While women are more likely than men to start businesses, only 34% of the US internet users who use Linkedin are women.
In other words, women, particularly entrepreneurs, still need to play catch up on LinkedIn.
Is Linkedin for Entrepreneurs? 7 compelling reasons!
Even if you’re not looking for a job and being on the recruiter radar is not necessary, having an updated and active LinkedIn profile is important. Here’s why.
If they are hiring, most business owners want to vet their vendors, VAs, coaches or service providers.
A lot more companies are hiring freelancers for seasonal or contract projects and they want to see credentials and connects.
You might want to connect with influencers, sponsors, advisors, investors or mentors – sure enough, they’ll want to check you out too.
Publishers and blogs want to see writing credits and published work. As a highly ranked blog, Maroon Oak’s Editorial Team regularly reviews the Linkedin profiles of potential guest bloggers to assess their relevant skills. And we’re not the only ones!
Your profile will show up high on Google searches – think SEO for yourself and your business.
Robust profiles also attract more collaborations, better outreach for speaking engagements, even more competitive terms for buying from others.
Finally, LinkedIn is constantly introducing new features, and familiarity and usage is the only way to cash on them.
LinkedIn for women entrepreneurs – 14 great features that that smart entrepreneurs use and you should too!
Profile Summary – may (or may not) be short, but make it very sweet!
Think of the summary as your featured content – it’s your snapshot and the ideal place to play up your own skills and expertise.
What should your summary look like? Instead of a hodge-podge, make it cohesive e.g. skill specific or maybe a compelling story. While there is no one template for a great Linkedin summary, here are 5 great ideas that you can use for inspiration!
The big no-no is writing the summary in third person! A summary that says ‘Jane Smith is a marketing pro who excels at marketing…’ reads more like a testimonial than a compelling intro.
Should you mention soft skills? Yes, particularly if interpersonal dealings are key to your work or if you deal with clients one on one, in businesses like photography, graphic design etc.
Find out which soft skills are your road to success?
Keyword search – no one looks for a Client Happiness Coach!
Research the keywords you have used – it’s quite possible that your choice of words means something different to a majority, or is low on the search hierarchy.
Here’s an example – a search on a word like ‘Networking’ yields far more results from the Technology industry than it does for professional interactions.
Make sure that you’re searchable for your major skill sets, but don’t overload on keywords. Also, make every word count. Avoid words that you have used in your headline – repetition equates redundancy!
Add connections consistently – it’s a network, after all!
While the value of connections is well known, engagement with them is lesser so. You never know when you might get a ‘like’ or an invite to connect, from an industry leader or influencer. Plus, how much you engage directly impacts your profile views too.
Now, networking can go well beyond common connects. Linkedin proactively offers up info on profiles (like the images below), and this helps you in multiple ways. You can ask to get introduced. And if you are the well connected yourself or have strong skills, a similar field might appear on yours too, which makes your profile more valuable.
Share media and links – if you have reason(s) to brag, you should!
Don’t share wins only on your newsfeed. After the initial buzz, they will vanish pretty quickly. You should also add the key ones to your profile for future access. Almost every section in your profile has the following option.
As an entrepreneur, what can you share on LinkedIn?
A lot more than most of us do. Here are some suggestions:
Accolades: garner positive attention
Link to a valuable press mention – Huffington Post did an feature on how our free networking platform is connecting women entrepreneurs. Not only did I share it on my Linkedin news feed, I also added it to my profile.
Pictures for awards or recognitions
Your story or your company’s journey.
Work: grow visibility
Share your portfolio, particularly if you are in a visual business like food, design etc.
Use Slideshare – upload a presentation, document or even an infographic. Then link to it on your profile. LinkedIn owns Slideshare and your content can get huge visibility (remember to include your logo in every slide, because Slideshare allows anyone to ‘clip’ individual slides).
Products: build authority, clicks and professional synergies
Books & eBooks
Add a cover picture – a thousand words, and all that!
Small upload, big impact! Cover images help you stand out, but they can also be used to convey extra info about your work or business. Avoid an image that’s too text heavy or blatantly promotional, as that can be a put-off. The 3 images below are examples of some effective cover images. Leila Janah appears in her cover shot and showcases her work, while Kathryn Minshew chooses to share her personal goal in a subtle, understated way. Ayesha Khanna puts forth her company’s name, URL and visual effectively.
Showcase freelance work – the Company you keep!
When you list your company in your Experience, make sure you balance out the info – a brief overview about the business and details about your own role. If you have a Linkedin page for your company, that’s great. Your logo and thumbnail will be clickable and easily accessible to users (example below). MO
But if not, make sure you add a web link in the media so your audience can learn more the business.
On Maroon Oak’s Company Page, we showcase our goals and mission. We also post articles, press mentions, tag article authors and those featured in the posts. Just like personal profiles, now you can also post videos on company pages too.
Is a Company Page necessary on Linkedin?
Creating a Linkedin Company Page is fairly easy. However, building traffic and a following is much harder than it is for your individual profile, so factor in the work involved before you create one.
But even if you don’t have a company page, having a name for even a solo gig is useful. Apart from the fact that people prefer doing business with a company (even if it’s small), this is important since your current company’s name appears on your profile snapshot. In this image below, Linda’s profile snapshot shows her current company as WSI Web Systems, which is at the top of her experience.
Here’s an example of a freelance content pro who has no company, but used a series of roles to describe her work right now. Therefore, her profile snapshot might imply that she’s involved in multiple endeavors like Media and Advocacy, but it could also mean that she’s looking for work.
Accomplishments – they’re your skills. With outcomes!
The list is big – but you don’t have to update everything. Pick what works for you – some of these will showcase your skills and others help with visibility or connections.
Are you an author? Blogger? Do you write for magazines? Or even e-zines and others’ blogs? You can share details like topic, publication and add the link. Again, if the publication has its own Page, you can tag it for greater impact.
Amongst my publications, I have listed the Blog on Maroon Oak, which has over a 100 articles on entrepreneurship, professional success, career options, work life balance and more. I have also tagged other Linkedin Members who are authors on this blog and their thumbnails show up. It’s a win-win!
Public service matters and always will. Apart from your showing your community ethic, it can be a great avenue to start meaningful business conversations.
Examples of organizations you might be a part of are your local Chamber of Commerce, Professional/ Business Networking Organizations like Maroon Oak.
It’s always a great idea to follow high profile pages or influencers on Linkedin. Well, you don’t have to, but it helps.
Who can you follow?
College or University pages are great because other alums tend to look upon you more favorably. Alumni Associations are great for focused networking.
Like listening to TED Talks? Support SPCA? When you follow these pages, it gives others a chance to get a better insight into you, and potentially a shared interest too.
Here’s a few more tips to make your profile rock!
Make sure you have an easy shareable profile with your custom URL – looks better and is more easily shareable. You can find this on the top right of your profile page.
Ask for recommendations – it’s both a professional and profile boost.
Endorse others for skills. A lot of people reciprocate, but even if they don’t, at the very least, it puts your name and thumbnail on their profile. Similarly, you can ask for recommendations if you have worked with someone for some length of time.
Link your Twitter account to your profile from the Settings menu. The posts you choose will be shareable on Twitter too.
Similarly, you can use IFTTT to post your different types of Instagram content to LinkedIn.
Need more inspiration to jazz up yours? Have a look at these CEO Linkedin profiles!
No matter where you source your business, don’t underestimate the importance of Linkedin for entrepreneurs. It can help you grow visibility, build authority, connects and lead generation. It starts with a strong profile, but a consistent presence and active engagement can give you the much needed traction.
Jill Rowley summed it up effectively – Linkedin is no longer an online resume. It’s your digital reputation!
How strong is yours?
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Business Mentor and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years.
She’s a co-founder at Maroon Oak, and is founded Win Thinks, where she writes, speaks and teaches about Digital Media, Brand Building and Future Ready Businesses. A day trader for over a decade, Pooja launched Trading Paces to educate amateur and pro stock traders. As a classroom mentor, Pooja loves teaching students across the U.S. about job skills and entrepreneurship. Read about her on Huffington Post and Forbes.
A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, she’s discovering the pleasure of drawing Zentangle patterns for ‘creative mindfulness.’
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