Though we tend to think of the active job seeker when we think of LinkedIn, there is a mountain of opportunity for small business owners to research their business, network, attract clients, raise your social profile, and even augment your SEO. This topic could fill an entire book, so I will just offer a few tips designed to give the small-business person some ideas to consider.
1. Tell people what problems you will solve in your “Profile Summary.”
When writing your Profile Summary section, think about your ideal client and the problems you will solve for them. Focus on your strengths and how you prefer to engage with clients. If you are a book editor who takes a deeply focused, nuanced approach to your work, be sure to mention that. Consider deeply what your ideal client wants to hear and write your summary as if you have them in mind. Keep paragraphs short and limit them to two paragraphs. Use bullet points below the paragraphs to highlight calls to actions (You can set up a free session with me on my website.) as well as brag-worthy accomplishments like impressive metrics, praise from leaders and colleagues, hard-to-earn certifications, and formal distinctions like fellowships and awards.
Write the short paragraphs as if you were telling them that you’re here to solve their problems, yet – and I know this is tricky – don’t actually use the word “you.” Refer to the Spoken Basic Message for Entrepreneurs to get started. If you find yourself looking for more language, refer to the Basic Message exercise.
Below is an example of a well-crafted profile summary for an entrepreneur.
I offer business coaching to entrepreneurs who are starting a business or have found themselves at a crossroads with their business (lost their fire, so to speak). I love working with mission-driven and creative visionaries who have always colored outside the line and feel like the entrepreneurial path is the only one in they will find an authentic expression of their gifts, strengths, and experience.
I excel at helping startup business owners bring their vision to fruition and keeping battle weary business owners motivated when they feel stuck or close to burnout. My branding and marketing experience and my tenure running several businesses has honed my entrepreneurial skills and my MSW offers me the tools to counsel and coach startup and frustrated business owners through tough situations.
· Founded Nervy Girl, a women’s magazine that built a loyal following in Portland, Oregon and beyond and was distinguished as the Best New Title by Utne Reader.
· Author of The DIY Website Workbook, a guide to creating a web presence that engages and converts ideal clients and a forthcoming book called Jump Start for creative and mission-driven individuals seeking to reignite and reimagine their career.
· I offer a free 30-minute Zoom or phone session this easy to set up on my website at www.sparkacareer.com.
2. Establish a Company Profile Page for your business. Logos pop up in LinkedIn when you enter a company under Job Experience when the company in question has a profile page. Build a profile page for your company to give yourself yet one more online platform. There is no reason not to — it’s free and offers you a chance to continue to establish your expertise and credibility. You can share articles, write blog articles, post photographs, advertise job openings, and invite people within your network to follow your company. Try to keep it active by writing blog posts or sharing relevant articles at least once a week. Post photos of your work space, selfies of yourself at conventions or trade association meetings, and observations that your ideal clients will find relevant. (For instance, I tend to attract outdoorsy, tree-hugger types so I sometimes post photos of beautiful hikes or trips to the beach. Ask yourself what photos your ideal client would enjoy seeing and post them with your thoughts and observations. Don’t overthink it – social media seems to honor the spontaneous, amusing and mildly surprising more than it does the intellectual, trenchant, and overly analytical.) The example above is for my coworking space Brightside Coworking, which my business partner and I anticipate will prove a valuable forum to promote our space as we begin to reopen after the COVID lockdown and shift our business model to a counseling practice.
3. Find leads and get to understand your ideal clients better. As your ideal client becomes more clear to you, use LinkedIn to investigate real life prospects and gather more clues. For instance, if you decide to target mental health professionals in Cincinnati you could search for people with therapist credentials in a specific geographic region on LinkedIn. As people pop up in the results, you will have yet more opportunity to observe their demographics and psychographics and see where they spend their time and what they care about. See what trade organizations and LinkedIn groups they belong to, what LinkedIn Influencers they follow, what they blog about, and what topics they share posts about and respond to. You can literally look at an approximation of their resume, which gives you access to pretty good background information. If you believe that Jonah Sachs is right when he says, “Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have,” you will understand the value of LinkedIn in helping you understand your ideal clients.
4. Use LinkedIn advertising to target ads to specific demographics. You can do this with conversation ads that answer questions people have about your business in a chatbot format, message ads that engages prospects via LinkedIn direct messaging features, text ads, and sponsored content ads that function similar to boosted posts in Facebook. LinkedIn doesn’t boast the engagement Facebook does but their versatility in letting you present ads as videos, dynamic ads, carousel streams, or text ads sets LinkedIn apart. All of these options offered sophisticated targeting toward people with specific demographic traits and interests and likely need refining over time to elicit conversions, follows, and other marketing objectives.
5. Tell LinkedIn Stories to build your brand and connect with customers.
As with Facebook and Instagram, you can tell LinkedIn stories to showcase your customers’ experiences with your services and products, demonstrate your products, share new research and compelling data points, or just find ways to connect with customers on a more personal level with humor and human interest stories. LinkedIn stories give you a great deal of latitude for creativity (not something LinkedIn is exactly know for) and there are developments under way to allow you to reach your target audience with stories ads in the near future.
These are just a few ways to use LinkedIn to your advantage when building your business. While we don’t think of LinkedIn as an online creative mecca, those with flair and ingenuity to stand out can reap significant rewards for taking just a little time each week to make a small splash. Think of it as it as being the shiny angel fish in a bowl of goldfish. You will get noticed and with engagement rising on LinkedIn, you will be ahead of the game. Even if LinkedIn is your ideal habitat, you can find ways to stand out from the competition with relatively little time, attention and expense.
Kristin Schuchman, MSW is a career counselor, small business coach, and author based in Portland, Oregon who works with creative and mission-driven professionals. She coaches fledgeling entrepreneurs through the startup phase and seasoned business owners through periods of burnout and indecision. She also consults individuals seeking support for career indecision, next steps, work re-entry, advancement, and work-life-balance. She offers a free 30-minute Zoom or phone session and presently works with clients both remotely and in person (with COVID-safe precautions). You can find her books The DIY Website Workbook and Jump Start: How to redirect a career that has stalled, lost direction or reached a crossroads on Amazon.