LinkedIn is a business-focused social networking site. And with most of its 400 MILLION+ members being decision-makers, if you are not building your presence on it, then you could be missing out on a lot of business opportunities. Whether you are promoting a new product or service, looking to hire, new employees, or simply marketing your business as a whole, LinkedIn provides you with a plethora of tools and resources to use to help you accomplish your goals.

And creating a captivating LinkedIn profile is probably the most important step to take. So let’s break it down into bite-sized portions, and at the end of this brief guide, you’ll have a profile that attracts potential clients and encourages them to engage with you.

IMPORTANT: Don’t just dive in and list your skills and achievements. Take 30 minutes to think about who your ideal prospect would be. What are their problems? How can you help relieve their pain? Make your profile come across as a personal message to them. Don’t follow the norm and create a profile that reads like a CV that does not attract connections. Make it about THEM. You’ll find that conversions of profile views to connection requests will go through the roof!

1. Your name – I know, it seems obvious. But LinkedIn have been clamping down on false names and names with additional information (keywords?) in them. So stick to inputting your name ONLY – ie John Doe, rather than “John Doe Real Estate Agent”. Failure to comply COULD result in the closure of your account.

2. Headline – This is where you can add extra details about what you do and how you can help other members. Take time to consider what people are looking for when they are tracking you, or similar businesses down. What are their pain-triggers, how can you help, what keywords/phrases might they use? This headline will appear below your name in the “People you may know” listings, so it is important that it draws people in.

3. Place your business in the correct category – LinkedIn members will be using the site’s search functions to look for businesses.

4. Add a Summary section – this is often overlooked and normally under-utilised. It represents your best opportunity to sell yourself to potential connections and business. Don’t make it all about you. Make it about your perfect connection/prospect. Ask questions. Try to find their pain or problems and show them how you can help them. ADD A CTA (Call to Action), giving clear instructions as to how they can connect with, and contact you, be that email, phone or directing them to an optin page on your website.

Try to include TESTIMONIALS in the summary to add credibility. You will no doubt receive LinkedIn recommendations, but in the summary section, you could add testimonials you have already received from happy clients.

NOTE: Are you familiar with LIONs? Not the furry kind with big teeth, but the LinkedIn Open Networkers. These are people are open to any connections and will not “IDK” (I Don’t Know). If you are open to adding anyone to your network, Add a paragraph stating that you are a LION and do not IDK, or spam connections.

5. Experience – Once again, this offers a great opportunity to stand-out from the crowd. most LinkedIn members list all of their previous jobs and skills here. But the savvy members will add entries for each of their current products and/or services as well. For example, I offer LinkedIn Training, Profile Writing and consulting services. I could have had a boring entry such as “Social Media Consultant” and listed everything out in that one entry. But, instead, I have an entry for each. Not only is this good for SEO purposes, but it helps visitors see, at a glance, the services I offer. Each entry also includes a clear CTA. you should also try to include rich media in your experience section. This could be in the form of a portfolio, or photographs of your work. Videos are particularly effective these days!

6. Complete the remainder of your profile as fully as possible -.LinkedIn grades profiles by their “completeness”. It should be your aim to produce a contact generating “All Star” profile.

The Additional Info has a section that specifically tells visitors the best way to contact you. Make sure you add a web address, email address and a phone number if you wish.

7. Add Articles – regularly adding articles in LinkedIn will add impact to your profile visually, especially if you include a powerful “hero image”, but more importantly, it will help to establish you as an industry leader. It also helps to expand your reach to potential new contacts.

FOLLOW UP – Suffice to say that you should always follow up with new connections. Don’t be pushy with a “Thanks for connecting. I am an expert at…” message. Just be friendly. Ask them questions. Offer to help. But don’t be salesy. Can you imagine how dreadful a party would be if everyone said “hello” and then proceeded to tell you all about how brilliant they are at their job right away. Begin a dialog. Make friends with your connections and the work will follow!

That’s it for now, but do look out for more LinkedIn hints and tips from me in the future.

And of course, CONNECT with me right here on LinkedIn. You’ll find more useful hints and tips in my profile.

I’m a LION, and I never IDK or Spam my connections.

About Dave Offen