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LinkedIn was launched in 2003 and is primarily a business networking and professional development site. Although it is moving toward a more relaxed and less "stuffy" approach it is more formal and serious than Facebook. It is an excellent platform if you are a business to business company and if you are employed, a profile on LinkedIn is considered a necessity. Employers will check you out, as will potential customers. For businesses, LinkedIn is a great tool for collaborating, keeping up to date on new ideas or offerings in your sector, sharing best practice and is great for targeting marketing and identifying potential leads. For all of these reasons, ensuring that your profile looks its best is a critical step in showcasing yourself or your business online.

Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated is critical to ensuring you continue to attract followers as well as appear relevant. A profile which includes very little information, or worse, out of date information, will provide a negative impression of you and your business.

Steps you can take to ensure your profile appears fresh and relevant include:

Make your Photo Count

Using a professional, clear and relatively recent photograph on your profile is critical. A head and shoulders shot against a plain, or relatively plain, background is considered ideal for business to business. People you are meeting may look you up on LinkedIn to see what you look like so they can recognise you when they are meeting you for coffee. Don't use a thirty year old photo of you when you did have hair and didn't have glasses.

Don't use a photo of you in a group unless it is relevant to your brand. How will people know which person you are in the group?

Avoid photos taken at parties, weddings, bars, beaches and so forth. Also, keep it PG. Your photo should be suitable to show to your 80 year old granny if necessary.

Don't be a blue generic starfield

Use the background image to showcase your brand. Upload a photo that represents your brand or what your brand stands for. Don't leave this prime area filled with the generic blue starfield as this is a waste of a great marketing opportunity.

Logos are fine here, as are photos of products, services or items which evoke or suggest brand values. Try to avoid photos which are not directly relevant to your brand as people may wonder why the photo was chosen.

Video

Video is a great way to showcase your business and show your personality and values. An introductory or explainer video about your business can be a great addition to your page. You can host them on YouTube and add links but do make sure you check the links occasionally to make sure they are still working properly.

Contact Information

You want to attract the right people using your profile and your posts on LinkedIn. All of the work you put in to being active on the platform and having a really great profile will be doomed to failure if you don't ensure that your contact information is up to date and accurate, and that any links to social media profiles outside LinkedIn are working correctly.

It is best practice to ensure you have at the very least,a link to your website, an email for people to contact you on, and ideally your telephone number.

Make Headlines

Make the most of your profile headline. Ensure it contains the words you expect people to use to search you out. Tweak your headline so that the first section contains exactly what you want people to know about you and your business. Your key activity. The first part of your headline appears next to your name on every post you ever write. Make sure you capitalise on that properly so that everyone who sees your comments and posts also sees how you can help them.

Endorsements and Recommendations

These provide social proof. People who are thinking of working with you will check these out, along with any Google and Facebook reviews you have and the testimonials on your website.

Ask for endorsements, ask clients for recommendations, and provide recommendations for others whom you have worked with to keep the virtuous circle going.

History

Your qualifications, awards and education remain relevant, particularly if you are a professional services company. People will check you out in more detail than you might imagine before working with you as they want to know that you are qualified.

Many people are qualified via experience rather than examinations and in this case, your work history should clearly show that experience and the outcomes that you achieved for others during that time, so that potential clients or employers can clearly see the benefits you will bring them.

Handpicked Harrogate offers advice and support for businesses who are just starting out and are confused by social media. We also offer a social media support package for businesses who prefer to outsource this area of their marketing activity. You can find out more here.

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