LinkedIn

When to Call Yourself a Consultant on LinkedIn—And When Not!

There’s been a plethora of people calling themselves consultants on LinkedIn, when in point of fact, they’re not consultants—they’re just currently unemployed! Somehow, rightly or wrongly, word got out that being unemployed was a bad thing and that recruiters would look askance at anyone who’s title says that they are indeed unemployed. I’m not s recruiter and I’m not looking for a job. I actually am a consultant. I consult with individuals and businesses who want to learn how to leverage LinkedIn to grow their networks, sales, and their businesses. So, you can see that I have a vested interest in there not being a lot of “false positives” when it comes to consultants! Not only that, but I know a thing or two, or three or four or twenty, about LinkedIn, and I’d like to address this whole issue.

First off, if you’re a consultant, say so! This is your job, after all, right? And, you do want clients to hire you, and how are they going to find you on LinkedIn, if they’re looking for a consultant, unless you announce that you’re a consultant!

Having said that, as far as the unemployed job seeker, I can see no reason why you’d want to call yourself a consultant. It’s sort of a code-word now for unemployed. A kind of placeholder. You don’t need a placeholder! Recruiters that I personally know all say that they’d rather see your most previous job title as your headline on your LinkedIn profile instead of consultant or “Seeking A Position”, which sounds incredibly lame! Look, be who you are and be open about who you are. Don’t start your next job or career based on a lie, albeit a small one. Openness and honestly are always the best policy. Besides, the profiles of all these unemployed, non-consultants are obviously faking it. You’re pushing away, as opposed to attracting the right jobs!

The Easiest Way to Find New Business on LinkedIn

Want a quick hack that will secure you tons of new business this year, if you apply it consistently? LinkedIn had removed this feature, then, probably due to all the hue and cry, they added it back in. It’s the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature, and it’s my go-to method of getting new business for my consulting business.

Think about it for a moment. Who would potentially be more interested in you and what you do than someone who searched for you on LinkedIn and took a look at your profile? That right there is a ready-made source of potential prospects!

I’m not going to tell you how to get to the web page that tells you who’s viewed your profile. You can figure that out for yourself. Besides, LinkedIn moves things around. Just Google it, if you don’t see it right away. (Hint: go to your profile!) I do want to tell you a couple of things you should be doing with this, though.

First off, you need to monitor the number of profile views you get. In general, and over time, you want your profile views per unit time to grow. If you’re doing content marketing, or having someone like me do it for you, you should be getting more profile views. Profile views are one of the main metrics I use to determine if my content marketing strategy is working or not.

Second, you want to actually reach out to people who’ve viewed your profile. Even with a free account, you’ll see a few of these people. If you upgrade to one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts, you’ll get the whole thing unlocked, plus more useful analytics.

Exactly how do you reach out to these folks? Pretty simple, actually. Just message them and thank them for viewing your profile. Ask them if there’s anything you can help them with.

If the person is a first-tier connection, you can message them. If they’re a second-tier connection, or indirect connection, you’ll have to send them a connect request first.

Three Things to Cut Out of Your LinkedIn Profile Today!

Your LinkedIn profile is your “silent salesperson”, and the profile summary is actually more like a personal sales letter than anything else. I’ve been helping businesses and professionals use LinkedIn successfully for quite some time now, and often when I look at a new client’s profile, I see some of the same elementary mistakes. I’d like to alert you to these so you can fix them and watch your connections, referrals, and sales that you make from LinkedIn soar!

Mistake #1: Unprofessional looking photo! Wow! This one’s on probably half the profiles I look at. Would you go to a job interview looking like you’re chilling on the beach with a beer in your hand? If not (and I hope the question is no), why are you doing that “virtually” with your unprofessional photo on LinkedIn. You’re on LinkedIn to network in some fashion or other, and that networking is business-oriented networking. How about looking like you’re a winner instead!

Mistake #2: Showing skills that should be taken for granted. There’s no need to talk about how you’re capable of getting to work on time, or how you can get assignments done on time. Everyone can use Word and PowerPoint. No biggie anymore! So, why mention it? That doesn’t make you stand out, it makes you look old—from an era when having a skill set on PowerPoint was indeed rare! Take out the skills that should be taken for granted and put in skills that set you apart from the crowd!

Mistake #3: Mixing up personal life and LinkedIn, career-oriented life. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and other social media sites, are the places for you to talk about your dog, your kids, your vacation, and other aspects of your non-working life. LinkedIn is where you talk about work! You talk about what you do for a living, your career, your skills, your achievements. Sure, the two overlap a little, but honestly, you need to keep the person stuff on the other platforms and the business stuff on LinkedIn where it belongs.

Ideas of Live By for Businesses of All Sizes

As the world of social media makes our lives much more transparent and much more public, it’s very important for businesses to change their approach to finding, selling, and servicing their customers and clients. Gone are the days when you couldn’t sell somebody something, charge them an arm and a leg, and then offer shoddy service on the back end. You’ll hear about it, not just sooner or later, but in real time on Twitter! Reputations can be smashed in a matter of a few days online. This may or may not be a good thing, but it’s a reality for today’s business world.

I sell to a lot of businesses on LinkedIn. I also help business clients of all types use LinkedIn to market their services and products. Although not the rough and tumble world that Twitter is, negative exposure on LinkedIn is to be avoided at all costs! Okay, granted it’s rare that someone “flames” you on LinkedIn. (As opposed to Twitter where it’s a second by second occurrence.) But still, your LinkedIn connections are each connected to a lot of people. Why would you want to make enemies! True, sometimes a bad customer experience can’t be helped, and sometimes customers are just plain crazy, but if you can avoid negativity, it’s very important to do so.

In the Internet marketing world, managing all of this is called reputation management, and it’s a very important part of marketing a business online where reputations can be, often unfairly, damaged rapidly! To that end, I’d challenge you to think about how you decide to accept business, persuade people to do business with you, and especially how you service your clients. This last bit is super important! Recently it’s been called onboarding, and it’s the process of making sure you client has reasonable expectations and that those expectations are perceived as met and hopefully even exceeded by your product or service.

Check Out LinkedIn’s New Service for Freelancers

Although I usually work with small to medium-sized businesses, I do occasionally work with professional freelancers. I’ve had clients who are business writers, graphic artists, and digital designers. Freelancing is a great way to work because you have very low overhead and, if you know what you’re doing, you can make a killer income. The only real issue that most freelancers face is finding clients. And, that’s where LinkedIn comes is.

Last year, LinkedIn launched a new service called LinkedIn Pro Finder. Basically, this service connected freelancers with people who need their services. If you’ve ever heard of Upwork, this is LinkedIn’s version of the same idea. Potential clients come to Pro Finder and post jobs. Freelancers, on the other hand, bid on the jobs. If the client accepts the bid, then the freelancer has found a new client. This model has been tried for a few years now and tends to work very well both for clients and for freelancers who know how to make the platform work for them. (It can be a little frustrating to get rolling with this as a new freelancer!)

Looks like Pro Finder is off to a good start, too! LinkedIn isn’t revealing how many jobs have been rewarded, but just looking at the platform you can see that it’s being used by thousands of freelancers. There are over 5,500 business writers on the platform as of the time I wrote this article. Pro Finder comes with a free trial. Freelancers offer a variety of services. Everything from IT, to content writing, to digital design is there. You can even find legal services and accounting services on Pro Finder. Basically, all of the freelancers or outsourcers you’d need to get a business up and running can be found on LinkedIn’s new freelancer platform.

How to Become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

Being a thought leader is a good thing! They make more money, get more business, have bigger mailing lists, and in general have more influence. In today’s Internet governed business world, I’d almost venture to say that you can’t reach your potential without becoming a thought leader. So, if that’s true, and I think it is, how does one do this? Well, the good news is that you can do this right on LinkedIn. And, guess what else? There is no bad news!

Here are a few things you need to get into place and consistently do in order to establish yourself as a thought leader.

1. Be yourself! Thought leaders are first and foremost leaders! People need and are looking for guidance in various parts of their lives, be those career, relationships, health, or finances. In order to lead, you need to be a leader not a follower, and being who you authentically are is priority number one.

2. Create a lot of content consistently. You need to be creating LinkedIn Pulse blog posts probably once a week. You need to be using YouTube, SlideShare and other platforms that integrate easily with LinkedIn. People need to feel like the “see you everywhere”. The only way to do this is to have a lot of content out there—everywhere.

3. Start a Group on LinkedIn. Groups are wonderful for corralling people with like interests. If you’re going to create what Seth Godin calls a tribe, you need some way for them to communicate, get excited, and generally identify each other and identify themselves as part of the tribe. You have to be careful with groups on LinkedIn. You don’t want them to become “spam fests”, but that’s easily doable. Just monitor the group, and if someone starts treating it like their own person referral machine, just boot them out!

Follow these three steps consistently, and you’ll start to see the glorious results that all thought leaders see!

LinkedIn Isn’t Just For Getting a New Job!

Before I got on LinkedIn and started using it for business, I thought it was just for finding a new job. At best, I thought of it as sort of a virtual Rolodex. I had no clue that it is the best platform around for networking and getting new clients! That was a long time ago. Now, most of my new clients come from LinkedIn! And, the best part of it is this—I don’t have to spend hours every day beating the pavement looking for business. A few minutes each day on LinkedIn does wonders for the bottom line, if you know what you’re doing.

How would you like to learn how to rock LinkedIn for business?

Excellent! Below, you’ll find the steps you need to take to make LinkedIn your main source of leads.

1: Get a professional looking head shot and use that for your photo.

2: Completely fill out your profile. You want to get to “All Star” status. That includes filling out nearly everything.

3: Next, you’ll want to spend some time writing your profile summary. Look at the summary as sort of an online sales letter designed to sell you. Write it in first person. Get some personal stuff in there as it relates to your work or business. Talk about how you arrived where you are, what you can do for people, and what your aspirations are for the future. Think about what you’d like to know about someone before you do business with them, or connect with them, and make sure you include that!

4: Connect with people on a consistent basis. Use LinkedIn search to find people in your target audience and connect with them. When people respond to your connect request, message them and start a conversation. Some of these conversations will end up in sales presentations for you and whatever it is you sell!

How Service Businesses Can Rock LinkedIn

Most service businesses depend on slowly built up word of mouth for client acquisition. Of course, referral clients are the best. They come pre-sold on your services. But, that’s a slow way to grow or maintain your business. Not only that, it’s impossible to actually get a business off the ground through referrals. There’s no one to refer anything to you because you haven’t had any customers.

A lot of service businesses that I talk to don’t have a marketing plan in place other than word of mouth. And, as I just stated, that’s problematic. I’d like to make a suggestion to you, if that’s you. Try LinkedIn!

Most folks think of LinkedIn merely as a networking platform. It is that, but it’s so much more! Through LinkedIn, you can connect with over half a billion high earning professionals, many of whom might be interested in the services you sell. Interested? Let me outline for you exactly how you can use LinkedIn to grow virtually any business.

1: Get an account and choose the right level of package for you. Start free, if you want! You may or may not need Sales Navigator. For business purposes, it’s not that expensive, though. Again, you can start getting clients right now with a free account!

2: Target the right audience. If your business is local, then you don’t really need to be targeting people in another country, although don’t push them away, either! Connecting with anyone only grows the number of people that you’re indirectly connected with, and therein lies the magic of LinkedIn!

3: Don’t just wait for business to come to you. You need to consistently be reaching out to your growing network of connections. Don’t spam them. Just intelligently ask them if they would be open to exploring what your business offers.

End of the Year LinkedIn Clean Up Strategies

I do all of the following once a year and suggest all my clients do the same! You’ll see what I’m talking about in a second, but having a daily, monthly, and yearly routine for LinkedIn keeps my account fresh and current. Nothing is more of a turn off than a LinkedIn account that looks like it hasn’t been touched in the past five years. Read my list and see if this won’t work for you.

The first thing I do is update my head shot. I’m a stickler on having a professional, up to date photo of myself. As my rolls at my business change, I need to change my photo to reflect that. In addition, I always reread and update my profile summary. I run my own business, and from year to year, well, things change. My summary needs to reflect that! Along with the profile summary, I change my headline adding keywords or subtracting them, and massaging the emphasis of what it says, if needed.

That’s not all!

The above only takes a few minutes, not including the time it takes to get a new photo. (And, that doesn’t take long. All my photos are done with my iPhone. I just need to make sure I’m dressed appropriately.) In addition to all this, I update my experiences. Again, like all businesses, mine grows and changes. I want my LinkedIn profile to reflect that and be current!

If I have an accomplishment that need bragging about, of course, I need to add that in. Recently, another big thing I do is consider what type of content I’m adding in. Recently, for instance, I’ve been using video and SlideShare a lot. A year from now, will that still be current? I don’t know. I do know, however, that once a year I need to think about it.

My final tasks are to revise my groups, shedding some and adding others. Again, these reflect the current trajectory of my business. Lastly, I go through my email and make sure that I connect with any of my new contacts on LinkedIn.

This all only takes an hour or so, but it cleans up my account wonderfully! And, it invariably leads to more sales!

Why You Need to Monitor Your Privacy Settings on LinkedIn

Your goal on LinkedIn is to network, right? You want people to find your profile, scan it, and hopefully reach out to you. Or, if you’ve already reached out to them, you want them to accept your connect request. If that’s not happening, LinkedIn isn’t working for you!

When I take on a new client for social media marketing services, one of the first things we do is audit their LinkedIn account. We check the quality of their head shot, their headline, their profile summary, and everything else, including the number and quality of their recommendations. In addition, we also check their privacy settings! Oddly, it’s here that I often find issues.

You can set your privacy settings to narrow or broaden who can see your posts and your profile, and everything in between. Although, I can see times when you would want to restrict who can learn about you (like if you were a rock star with a LinkedIn profile, although I’ve never run across that), most times the broader the better. After all, you want more, not fewer people in your network, right? You not only want to influence your current connections, but you want more connections. And, most of the time, you want your content to not only position you as an industry thought leader, but you want it to gather more followers for you.

You just can’t do that if you’re not maxing out on who can see your stuff!

Another thing we take a look at, and this is more of a real privacy issue, is what apps you’ve allowed to use LinkedIn. Some apps can access your personal data, others can’t. (Think the fiasco with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.) My guess would be that you’d want to delete these apps. At least most of my clients do. Sometimes not, if the app is really useful. Although, they do appreciate knowing when and how their data is being shared.