Optimise your LinkedIn profile: tips for branding success

Jan. 8, 2019


Time is the only barrier to making LinkedIn work for you and your business, according to LinkedIn marketing entrepreneur Chris Reed, who led his Mini Masterclass for BCCJ members on December 4.

He outlined four consecutive areas to work on to ensure success on the social networking platform: personal branding, content marketing, company branding and social selling. 

Reed could be considered a best practice example of how to utilise LinkedIn. With LinkedIn as his specialisation, he founded his marketing agency, Black Marketing, developed innovative marketing concepts and wrote three international bestselling books. He is also a sought after speaker, who has addressed audiences that include the British Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore. All this is thanks to the network that he gained via LinkedIn. 

Arriving in Singapore in 2009 from London, Reed knew no-one but reached out to his 200 connections on LinkedIn for introductions to people near him. Soon, he was meeting people and, like the majority of LinkedIn users at the time, using the platform to find a job. When his new connections began asking him to improve their LinkedIn profiles, he realised that he had found his niche and began his entrepreneurial journey of utilising the platform to create a business. 

Reed’s timing in launching his business in Singapore was fortuitous. Asia has seen the fastest growth in LinkedIn users in recent years, particularly in India and China. Yet he pointed out that LinkedIn offers opportunities on a global scale. It is the only social networking platform that has a presence in every country in the world except two: North Korea and Russia.

 

Personal branding

Ensuring you make the right impression through your personal profile should be the first step on LinkedIn, said Reed. This is especially important because most people will find their LinkedIn profile to be the top-ranked result of a Google search of their name.

As your title will be seen by users every time you do something on LinkedIn, such as make a comment, he recommended it act as an elevator pitch or statement about your personal brand or unique selling points. It should also include keywords that will allow people searching for someone with your skills to find you.

The next step is to ensure the first three lines of your personal statement are interesting and personal, to ensure continued reading. After that should come your career history, contributions, mentoring, recommendations, awards, endorsements, and so on.

“Write your story and change it as you develop and as your career or business develops,” explained Reed, pointing out that differentiation is key to an attractive profile. 

People should therefore make it personal and avoid listing irrelevant skills or including misleading information. What’s more, the photo and content should be professional throughout and encourage interaction by refraining from language such as “out of work,” “spouse of a well-known executive” or “ex-employee of famous brand.”

Reed suggested maximising opportunities for self-promotion and engagement by including a relevant background image of you or your company and adding your schedule if you are a frequent work traveller. Alongside these efforts should be regular updates of you and your work.

 

Content marketing

A content marketing plan using the 4-1-1 method of one soft-sell post and one hard-sell post for every four unrelated posts will help boost both your profile and your services, Reed said.

“When I do a hard-sell post, you might un-follow me, so you have to earn the ability to do it. Share posts about other things, such as the economy, innovation, technology or things that happened to you at events. That gives you permission to do a hard-sell post,” he said.

In general, the key to getting traction and engagement on any post is to “be yourself,” he added: “LinkedIn marketing is about being compelling, relatable and authentic. You’re all got stories.” 

He noted that posts don’t necessarily need to mention your company in order for them to generate clients. Rather, by setting and leading the agenda, you can boost both your brand and your company. This could be done by posting business news, press articles about you or your attendance at events, for example.

Other ideas included tagging people in posts to spread your message and access other people’s networks, using hashtags and turning on LinkedIn’s “Find nearby” function to network with others at conferences.

Reed also pointed out that posting video is useful as you can check who viewed and liked each video, unlike on channels such as YouTube.

 

Company branding

Though Reed admitted that some firms in Japan still view LinkedIn as a job seekers’ tool, he noted that there is greater acceptance of LinkedIn as a way for staff to promote their company. An individual’s activity can help the company’s brand, he said, but for a significant boost to the company, it is important that the CEO leads the way.

“People follow people; they don’t follow corporate pages,” he said. “Three times as many people follow Bill Gates than follow Microsoft. 

He advised against investing in paid promotions on company pages. Instead, authentic, organic content posted by companies is likely to find greater success. Moreover, by creating a template that staff can use on their LinkedIn profile, companies can boost their brand.

 

Social selling

Only when these three tasks have been completed can you progress to the fourth step on LinkedIn: social selling, said Reed. As the platform informs you about who viewed your profile, he recommended contacting those people to say thanks and ask how you can be of help. Proactive messaging and invitations can also be well received, he said, particularly by premium users who are likely to be more receptive to users getting in touch.

For those serious about social selling, Reed advised trying LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator function.

 

Getting started

In closing, Reed said the most important thing to remember is that your LinkedIn reputation is earned through activity.

“The more you do on it, the more you get out of it. From a business context, it is worth being active on LinkedIn because that alone will boost your [LinkedIn] ranking,” he said. 

 

Produced by Sterling Content for the BCCJ