Building your Personal & Corporate Brand using LinkedIn

Use of social media is essential in personal and corporate branding.  The networks that brands should be on are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+. Writing blogs and having websites are also essential for building a brand.  Today I am going to discuss how to build your brand using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows people to search for jobs and connect with people they know. You can also make new connections on the site. Right now, 135 million people around the world are using LinkedIn.

The Basics

LinkedIn allows users to sign up for free. To get started you need to do the following.

1 Click on the join today tab.

2 Enter a first and last name.

3 Enter a valid email address.

4 Create a password.

Creating a profile

Once you have created a password you, will need to identify your geographic location and provide information about your employment status. LinkedIn asks you to provide your employment history along with your educational history. The amount of information you provide is up to you but the more relevant information you supply the better. This is because a complete LinkedIn profile shows up better in search results. The LinkedIn profile is the digital resume.

So what elements do I need to complete a profile?

1 Provide information on your current position. If you do not have a position, create one on your ideal career or position. There is no excuse to leave this blank if you are unemployed.

2 Provide information on your previous two positions.

3 Write a professional summary that provides information that describes past accomplishments along with what you can do for potential clients and employers. You should also describe what type of position or client you are seeking.

4 Upload a professional picture that will make your profile look more attractive.

5 Create a professional headline in 160 characters or less. If you leave this blank, LinkedIn populates this with your latest position. My advice is to create your own catchy headline to captivate readers to read your profile; unless you have a great position and have achieved your career goals. The professional headline provides you with an opportunity to quickly sell and market who you are and what you do.

6 Fill out the specialties section with keywords related to what you do. Your idea is to use keywords to optimize your LinkedIn profile to come up in searches on LinkedIn.  Also fill out the skills section and interests section.

7 Connect with customers, colleagues, bosses and professors. To do this quickly, upload your address book from your email account into LinkedIn. LinkedIn will identify which members in your address book are already members. You can then decide which members you want to invite to join your network. LinkedIn is based on a network of first, second and third degree connections. First degree connections are direct connection. Second degree connections are a connection of a connection or a friend of a friend. Third degree connections are friends of second degree connections. You can connect with people by entering an email address for them, indicating that you share a group with them, stating that they are a colleague, stating that you have done business, together or by stating that you were classmates. Make sure not to abuse the contact form otherwise you will have to enter email addresses every time that you connect with someone.  Inmails are a premium feature that allows you to contact people anyone on LinkedIn. This is good if you are not able to reach a person through traditional means. Basic accounts on LinkedIn also provide a feature called introductions. Basic accounts allow five introductions. This feature allows you ask one of your connections to connect you with one of your connections.

8 Get recommendations.  Once you have first degree connections, you can ask them to recommend your work. To do this, click on the profile tab and click on the recommendations link in the drop down menu. This will allow you to choose the position you want to be recommended for. Once you have identified this position you then can send out a request to your connection for a recommendation. Recommendations are social proof and are a great way to boost your credibility online. LinkedIn requires three recommendations for your profile to be considered complete. For recommendations from non LinkedIn members, use the Slideshare and Box plugins.

9 Use the three profile links LinkedIn provides in the website section of your profile. I would include the following links, your website, your blog, your Facebook page, your YouTube channel and your Google plus page. The sites you choose are up to you. LinkedIn also provides users with two additional Links for Twitter accounts. In other words, LinkedIn provides you with up to five touch points to connect with people and to showcase your work.

10 Make sure to make your profile public. LinkedIn allows users to create a custom URL to make it easier for users to find them. I would make the address one that easily identifies you.  My public profile URL is http://www.linkedin.com/in/dangalante .

These are the 10 steps to create a complete LinkedIn profile that will be optimized for search on LinkedIn.  Also public profiles are indexed in search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. It is important to know that you can determine what activity that you share. You also have the option to hide your connections from your 1st Degree connections. The settings tab will allow you choose options.

Make sure to share content and status updates with your network to engage them. LinkedIn allows people to like and comment on posts. Status updates can be shared on Twitter, with groups and with individuals. Another thing that you can do to build your brand on LinkedIn is to join groups. LinkedIn allows members to join up to 50 groups. I would target industry groups or groups that match your interests. Groups are great places to facilitate discussions. I would also recommend creating a group. This is easy to do. I have provided a link to my sales and marketing group to give you an example.  Groups are a great way to make connections and to share and start discussions. You can also post jobs in groups as well.

Companies can also take advantage of LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows companies to create pages. On these pages, companies can post jobs which are a premium feature. Recently, LinkedIn added the status update feature for company pages. This is great to provide updates about your company along with promoting your products and service. I have included a link to my company page as an example.

As you can see, LinkedIn is a great place for personal and corporate branding.

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