13 Steps to Improve Your LinkedIn ProfileLinkedIn is becoming a more important tool in both networking and business development. While I’vehad a profile for many years, it wasn’t until I became a marketing director at a regional CPA firm that I gotserious about my own profile and helping others in the firm update their profiles. Here are a few basicsteps you can take to improve your profile. 1) Add a profile photo - I once heard someone describe not having a profile photo like showing up for a cocktail party wearing a paper bag. While I think that characterization might be a little over the top, remember that social media is a tool for building and enhancing relationships. If someones never met you in person and you dont have a profile photo, think about how important having a profile photo is for allowing them to feel a sense of connection with you. Your photo doesnt have to be an expensive headshot from a professional photographer, but make sure its a flattering and professional image as opposed to something youd post from your familys 4th of July cookout. 2) Complete your profile - While I spent over six years with an incomplete profile, I never spent more than 10 hours per year on the site until 2012. Because Im now using my profile and my companys page to promote our firm, Im taking a much more serious stance on updating and maintaining my profile. While I wouldnt advocate spending hours from your work week updating your profile unless that fits with your professional responsibilities, I would recommend that you think of your LinkedIn profile as the first place potential clients can learn more about you and your employer. More importantly, an incomplete profile shows a lack of attention to detail - thats probably not a message you want to send to prospective clients. 3) Connect with affinity groups - Whether you are an accountant, an engineer or a marketer, theres a good chance there is a group or professional association youll find useful to join on LinkedIn. Whether you interest is in elevating your standing in a professional association, participating in discussions or elevating your visibility, youll find many opportunities with on-line groups. You will need to evaluate the groups you join by reading and possibly responding to posts. One of the first posts I received from an alumni group I joined was "How to get a flat belly and 6-pack abs". At 49, Ive either got the abs I want or the abs Im destined to die with, in either event, Im not sure LinkedIn is the ecosystem in which I want to evaluate those choices. By the same token, another group I joined, the association for accounting marketing (AAM), had a number of useful and informative posts. 4) Connect with your co-workers - whether your interests is keeping up with posts or just expanding your network, your co-workers can be a great source of additional personal and professional connections. 5) Follow your companys LinkedIn page - You may not always be connected to the latest company buzz, so being connected to the company page can yield interesting tidbits you might not get through the grapevine. Staying connected with your companys page will also allow your connections to get updates on whats happening in your company. 6) Connect with your clients - chances are good that your clients respect your work, they probably like you, and they probably want to hear what you have to say – professionally speaking. Give them a chance to tune in and provide feedback. 7) Follow your clients company pages - This is a great way to gain insights on whats happening in your clients firms. You can follow information they post as well as press releases and get insights on their services and product offerings. This may also be a channel for picking up additional information you may not get through your normal channels of communication. 8) Connect with former colleagues - Former colleagues can be great sources of information, but they can also be champions for you and for your company in their new form. Theres always the chance that a former co-worker, knowing you and your firms capability could become a great new client. 9) Connect with target accounts and prospects - If you are already connected with contacts in target accounts and prospects, you can learn more about them by connected. If you are not already connected with people in these target accounts, you can learn more about them by doing research
10) Connect with family and friends: who has a greater interest in seeing you succeed than friends afamily? If they can, theyll help you connect with potential clients and prospects and theyll be amongyour biggest cheerleaders.11) Connect with college and graduate school classmates - Like friends and family, your college andgraduate school classmates have known you for a long time and have a vested interest in yoursuccess. Connect with them, and work with them to leverage their connections to help extend yourreach.12) Use LinkedIn for research - Your basic LinkedIn membership allows you to get information onyour first and second degree connections (your friends and your friends friends). If you have areasonable number of connections (I have over 500), your network of connections could extendbeyond 100,000 first and second degree connections. Think of what this could mean in terms ofconnecting with new clients, prospects and professional contacts.13) Ask for endorsements - In an increasingly on-line world, the value of endorsements andrecommendations will go up and the value of advertising will go down. Leverage the strength of yourLinkedIn profile by having your clients and colleagues endorse you. They are the people who knowyour work best and they’re also interested in your success. Edward D. Warren is Director of Marketing for Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, LLC. SEK&Co. is a regional CPA firm serving client in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Ed earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore and an MBA from Loyola University of Maryland. Ed has over 25 years of sales, marketing, business development, and general management experience.