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LinkedIn is the social media platform that is sadly neglected by many small businesses and start-ups.

Because it can be hard to understand LinkedIn’s many benefits, this 4 part series running over the course of April (by guest author Anna Colibri of ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching) explains in detail the value of LinkedIn for small businesses, and goes over how to optimise your profile, how to use LinkedIn to vastly increase your lead generation, and how you should run your LinkedIn company page to support your marketing.

alien waves goodbye as the LinkedIn ship leaves

How to Create and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile in 12 Simple Steps

Last week we focused on the importance of LinkedIn and why this is one social media platform you can’t afford to ignore. Now we are changing the focus to the nuts and bolts of your own LinkedIn profile and how to optimise it for your business goals. Unlike a traditional CV, LinkedIn provides you with many easily updatable options. This allows you to highlight current projects or change your profile as you and your company, grow and change. And just like any other social media site, you need to maintain it so it stays up-to-date and relevant. It’s not hard to set up a LinkedIn profile, but it is a bit time-consuming and this is one social media profile you want to get right.

Why you need to optimise your LinkedIn profile

  • It will help you to be found by those searching for your skills or experience
  • Clients and customers will look at all your social media profiles if they are serious about buying
  • Potential collaborators look at LinkedIn
  • Employers look at LinkedIn profiles
  • LinkedIn’s high PageRank ensures that anyone searching your name (and/or business name) on the web will likely find a link to your profile high in their search results

LinkedIn is not only an opportunity to shine on the web, it also has the potential to make you look bad online if you don’t take your profile seriously.

So, here’s what to do to look good on LinkedIn:

1 – Sign up

Go to and create an account

2 – Profile picture

Use a professional profile picture. (Try to hit the fine line between sexy and boring!)

3 – Name

In case it isn’t obvious, use your real name.

4 – Headline

Your headline is a key opportunity to optimize for LinkedIn’s internal search algorithm. Think carefully about the keywords your audience is likely to use to find you. Tip: use both the Google Keyword Tool  and LinkedIn’s internal “skills & expertise” functionality to help you find keywords that accurately reflect who you are and make you findable, too.

5 – CV style details +

Add your experience, education and websites (and unlike a traditional CV which should be short, here more is better). For your website, choose the “other” option so you can customize the links to your websites with keywords phrases.

How to add websites on LinkedIn profile

6 – Personal branding

After you have added your basic CV information, you can begin to make your profile shine. Use the summary section of your profile to create a persuasive personal branding message and remember to use your keywords!

7 – Searchable keywords and endorsements

You will also add searchable keywords in the skills & expertise section (see above). This is your chance to let people know what you do in a very direct way. Once your profile is established, you can be endorsed by your connections for these skills, adding yet more social proof to your profile (and the more of that you have, the better chance you have that people will want to connect with and buy from you).

8 – Connect

Don’t be a wallflower. Make sure you’re connecting with LinkedIn members and inviting friends from Facebook and your email database to connect. [Tip – Rapportive is a great FREE tool for seeing if your contacts are on LinkedIn and adding them instantly]

9 – Research

Do a little research and join a few Groups. There are loads of great small business forums including Bizitalk, Ingenious Britain, and the Small Business Network, and there are niche groups for more or less every industry and profession you can think of.

10 – Recommendations

Request recommendations from your connections. These are essentially personal reviews and testimonials, and the more you have the more collaborators, employers, employees and customers will trust you.

11 – Enhance your profile

There are many more ways to enhance your profile, including adding publications, patents, volunteer work, affiliations with groups, test scores and much, much more. Just click on edit profile (next to your profile picture) to see the options listed on the right hand side.

Enhancing your LinkedIn profile

12 – Make use of apps

LinkedIn also features useful apps like CardMunch (a business card scanning app) for networking, organizing and sharing content.

15 minutes a day will pay dividends

It’s true, setting up a complete LinkedIn profile is much more of a time commitment than setting up a Facebook profile or Twitter account, but it is worth spending time on. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, the people looking at your LinkedIn profile are far more likely to engage with you in a worthwhile way – whether as a lead, customer, collaborator or contact. Make sure you set aside a couple of hours for the initial setting up of your profile and then plan to commit, say, 15 minutes per day exploring and networking. With at least this much time put in, you’ll quickly find you’ll be getting far more out of it!

Next week you’ll learn how you can gain clients (and revenue!) through LinkedIn.

Try It Yourself

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, set one up before next week’s Part Three of LinkedIn or Left Behind: Increasing your lead generation.

And let us know how it went setting up your LinkedIn profile in the comments below.

Guest Poster:

Anna Colibri, Owner, ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching

Bio: Founded ANNACOLIBRI | tech savvy coaching, a values-based marketing company, in February, 2012. She grew up in Pacific Grove, California, a small town on the edge of the sea. She has had the wonderful fortune to live, study and work in San Francisco, CA, France and India. You can, of course, find her on LinkedIn