LinkedIn is a critical tool in any social seller's toolbox. While a great social selling strategy leverages many more tools than LinkedIn alone, the platform can be a powerful way to learn about prospects and promote a seller's own brand.
Some people think of LinkedIn as an online resume—but it's much more than that. A LinkedIn profile is a personal brand hub and should be used to prove thought leadership, build trust and credibility, and ultimately increase sales. But many sellers aren't taking full advantage of their LinkedIn profiles. Here are some basic mistakes too many sellers make.
Their Photos Are Too Personal
Yes, LinkedIn is called a social media site, but it shouldn't be treated like Instagram or Facebook—specifically when it comes to photos. LinkedIn has two applications for photos on a user profile, and each one should be treated thoughtfully.
Buyers go to LinkedIn to learn more about a seller, and the very first thing they see is a profile photo. It needs to be good. Here are some general rules for great LinkedIn profile photos:
- They're up to date: If a seller is using a headshot from 10 years ago, it's time to call a photographer, and stat. Why? It can be jarring to have a video call or in-person meeting with someone who looks vastly different from their profile picture. Why allow for the distraction in the first place?
- There's no cropping: If a photo used to have another person, prop, or dog in it that's been cut out, it's not appropriate for LinkedIn. A great profile photo features the person in it and nothing else.
- It's a close-up: LinkedIn photos can get pretty small on screen. This means if the rep in the photo is posing in front of a monument or landscape, and his or her face is too small to see, the photo isn't doing any brand building.
- It's high-res: Nothing says unprofessional like a grainy photo. Skip the selfie and invest in professional, high-res headshots that show your commitment to quality.
- The rep's eyes are hidden: Selfies in sunglasses are cool shots but aren't appropriate for LinkedIn. Seeing someone's eyes is critical to feeling a connection and building trust with that person. A seller's eyes should always be open and visible in a LinkedIn profile photo.
A background photo is as important as a profile photo, just in a different way. These photos come in all styles: abstract high-tech graphics, shots of an organized desk, city skyscrapers, industrial architecture, and more. Generally, all these options are okay, as long as it ties into the seller's brand. If a headline totes strong attention to detail and the background photo is blurry and cropped in a strange way, what message does that send to prospects?
Their Headline Doesn't Carry Any Weight
If LinkedIn is the hub for a seller's brand, his headline is his tagline. It should be thoughtful and specific to the seller's key differentiators. It's best to avoid fluffy and vague headlines. "Seasoned, Sharp, Strategic Leader" and "Experienced Business Professional with Extensive Background in Sales and Operations" are boring and don't really say much.
Instead, sellers should try something that communicates what they do and with whom, like "Unleashing the power of marketing automation software with tech startups" or "Helping organizations increase brand affinity and sales through social media." These headlines give insight into a seller's expertise and what kinds of people he works with, making it easy for a buyer to envision how the seller could help her organization.
They're Not Searchable
LinkedIn allows users to "hide" their profiles from search engine results, which might make sense for some people but certainly doesn't for sales reps. Sellers should be highly visible online. This means their profiles should be viewable by everyone, and their copy should be SEO-friendly.
This doesn't mean the experience section should be packed with SEO terms and devoid of substance; instead, sellers should consider what terms a target buyer might search for and naturally work them into the copy.
Their Profile Is a Ghost Town
Having a quality LinkedIn profile isn't just about setting it up. It also takes regular maintenance and activity. If a seller only has 49 connections, hasn't filled out all his information and has never written a post, he'll come across as inactive and inexperienced to buyers.
Reps should be active on LinkedIn throughout the week, commenting on posts, sharing their own content and connecting to new contacts. This builds trust and credibility when buyers are doing their own research.
No One Has Written Them Recommendations
Recommendations separate a good LinkedIn profile from a great one, and they're not very difficult to get. Try to get 3-5 recommendations from current customers. Simply send them a note asking if they'd be willing to write a recommendation and offer to return the favour. Most of the time, people are happy to write a recommendation if there's a solid relationship that's been built.
Their URL Slug Is a Mess
As is true with anything, on LinkedIn, the small details make all the difference. Sellers can add a final bit of polish to their profile by customizing their URL, available by selecting "Edit public profile and URL" from the profile page view.
Sellers who want to maximize the potential of LinkedIn should be thoughtful about crafting a cohesive brand message throughout their profile. If you want LinkedIn to work hard for you, review each of these sections of your profile and see how you could optimize it to build more trust with buyers.