Today LinkedIn is hands down the most popular professional networking site, with 69% decision makers in France using the platform. As such, it is also a very valuable and powerful tool that entrepreneurs can use to promote and grow their business.
On January 14th PWN Paris Entrepreneurship Club members and guests could learn how to use LinkedIn to support their business during a workshop delivered by Valérie March, a B2B social media consultant, expert in social selling and author of 3 books on the subject.
The practical tips and insights that Valérie shared with us could be organised into 2 areas: 1) creating an attractive and findable LinkedIn profile, 2) building a network of contacts and developing relationships that can ultimately lead to business (so-called social selling). Below are some of the highlights.
1) On building a successful LinkedIn profile
The starting point for business development via LinkedIn is to have a complete and attractive personal profile. A good LinkedIn profile has 2 objectives:
For findability it’s important to optimise our profile for the LinkedIn algorithm by making sure that we use the right keywords. The most important areas here are the headline, experiences' titles, the About section, our top skills and description of our current activity. When editing these areas, we should select keywords that are used by our ideal client, in our area of expertise and don’t shy away from adding some trendy buzzwords (e.g. “social selling”) as people will probably be searching for them.
In terms of making our profile attractive to people, the most important tip is to use good storytelling – remember that LinkedIn is not a CV, so it's OK to select only the most relevant experiences and present them in an engaging way (e.g. by adding visuals and videos in the “media” section of our profile).
Valérie also recommends creating a company page for our business, so that we can then link it to our profile and have the logo appearing in our Experience section, which adds to a more professional image. There’s no need to actively manage the company page if we don’t have time to do it regularly, but it’s good to have it.
Another important section is Skills and Endorsements. This works both for the algorithm (as it contains keywords), but also for people who will probably check the top 3 skills when reviewing our profile. We should therefore make sure that what appears at the top of our list is most relevant at the moment (there are ways to reorganise our key skills order on LinkedIn by pinning the most important ones to the top).
2) On building our network on LinkedIn
Once the profile is complete and optimised we can start growing and nurturing our network. There are 2 notions to keep in mind on LinkedIn:
When inviting new people to connect with us, it's important to personalise the contact request and give them some context. This helps develop a connection.
In terms of nurturing our network and to enable social selling, it is really important to regularly post and share relevant content that showcases our experience and expertise.
Valérie shared some very practical tips here, including the most effective formats to use (long text, ideally accompanied by a video), linking to external websites in our posts (we should be smart about how to do it as LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t favour external links), using emojis (use them for organising our posts and keep the professional feel), as well as the importance of using relevant hashtags (to be found) and tagging people in our posts (as appropriate).
The most important thing to boost our posts' reach and visibility is to have some engagement (likes and especially comments) within the first hour after publishing. The best time to post is during the working hours, before or after people get busy with their tasks (before 9:30am, after 5:30pm and during lunch hours).
In summary in order to leverage LinkedIn for business we should:
• Create a profile that tells a good story and uses relevant keywords
• Build a network of useful contacts
• Be active (ideally every day) and nurture our network
• Publish content that showcases our expertise
• Use search to identify our prospects
• Personalise our contact requests to forge a relationship.
To learn more about how to use LinkedIn (and other social media) to develop your business, check Valérie’s books and her website https://poacea.com/
Thanks to Valérie for sharing her tips and expertise with us, and to PWN Paris Entrepreneurship Club for organising this useful workshop.
Anna Zgadzaj, VP Communications PWN Paris