Last month, our Business of Marketing webinar explored how to supercharge your LinkedIn profile

Here’s a brief summary of what was discussed with our guest speaker, LinkedIn trainer and coach Louise Brogan. Louise talked about how accountants can use the platform to reach new clients and grow their online presence. If you like what you read, you can view the full webinar here.

LinkedIn is a fantastic business tool. If you use it cleverly it can be the key to unlocking great networking, business development and sales opportunities. Here’s how you can supercharge your LinkedIn profile to get the most out of it.

Why should you use LinkedIn?

First and foremost, LinkedIn is a business platform. It’s different from other social media platforms, because it’s all about collaborating with like-minded professionals and developing a strong network, made up of clients, suppliers, and industry bodies.

Having this network at your fingertips can be invaluable to finding new business, building your brand, and strengthening your relationships – which sounds like a pretty good reason to start using the platform.

What to include in your profile

Businesses sometimes make the mistake of sharing content exclusively through their business account. But business profiles only get a 10th of the engagement that personal profiles do. And that’s not really a surprise.

Think of it like a conference. You wouldn’t go up to someone and say ‘Hello, I’m PracticeWeb!’ You’d introduce yourself as a person, and start to build a natural rapport. LinkedIn works much the same way, so getting your personal profile up to scratch is a good place to start.

First, make sure you’ve got a good, clear headshot, and that you’ve got the settings configured so that people can see it.

Then, fill out your experience section. Keep your intention in mind here – if you’re looking for business, don’t include reams of detail about your previous jobs. If you do, you’ll appear in lots of searches that won’t be from the organisations and individuals you want to work with.

Keep it focused on attracting the business that you want, rather than simply using your LinkedIn profile as a CV.

Building a network of value

Curating a network that’s truly valuable is one of the most important things you can do. To do that, you need to be strategic about who you connect with.

Firstly, connect with your clients. Keeping up to date with them not only strengthens your relationship, but could also lead to more opportunities. If your clients interact with your content, their connections will see it too – and their connections could be potential clients of yours. It’s a snowball effect and it’s really powerful.

Next, take a look at who else serves your clients. They’ll have the network you want, and that’s an opportunity for you to get in front of those people. By checking out the network of high-interest individuals, and commenting on posts – even if they’re competitors – you’ll be seen by who you want to be seen by, without jumping into their DMs.

You can also use search filters to find specific people in specific jobs, industries, and locations, or hunt down influencers or industry thought leaders. Immerse yourself in your industry by following trade magazines, media sites, and industry bodies. These can be valuable sources of content that you can curate, comment on, and reshare to your network.

Don’t be afraid to clean up your network regularly. People won’t get a notification if you disconnect or unfollow them, and it’s important to fine-tune your network so that it’s as relevant as possible.

Getting the most from your network

To get the most from your network, you have to be dynamic.

It’s not just about following someone and leaving it there – send them a message to tell them why you connected, or complement some of their services or recent activity. Just make sure you do it with your human-hat on, rather than as a sales director. If they get to know you as a person, the business will come organically.

Think about how you can get further exposure for your business by using your LinkedIn network, too. If you follow media pages and want to feature in their publication, comment on their content a few times before you suggest writing for them. You’re more likely to have a chance, and, if nothing else, you’ll be in front of their audience – who are also most likely your target audience, too.

Remember that it’s all about building genuine relationships and connections. Being specific in your networking approach and gaining three or four good connections is much more important than being connected to dozens of people that you’ll never interact with.

How to create content for LinkedIn

Out of 744m users, only 1% of people share content and start conversations. That’s a hell of an opportunity to get noticed and capture some business.

You might be worried about what your peers or colleagues will think, but it’s time to switch your thinking. If you’re talking about genuinely useful topics for the people you want to service, you might help someone solve a problem, or even generate a sale. If you don’t post, your network will never know who you are – even if you’re connected with them.

Start small. Commenting is one of the best things you can do. Remember that snowball effect? You’ll position yourself as someone who knows about a certain topic, industry, or problem, and that’ll stick in people’s minds.

When you’re ready to start creating content, the simpler it is, the more traction it’ll get. Text-only posts outperform all other types on LinkedIn, including those with pictures. Introduce the topic and give 5-6 lines on what you think about it, then ask a question to encourage engagement.

If you’re wondering how to come up with content, ask yourself this: what does my network need or want to know?

Think of the question you get over and over from clients and write about it. If people hire you after you’ve answered some basic questions, write about those. Don’t be afraid to give knowledge away – this is about positioning yourself as useful, helpful, and expert, which all make people more likely to come to you for advice when they need it.

If you’re struggling, take a look at the top right hand column of LinkedIn and you’ll find Top 5 News Stories. These are often useful for accountancy firms because lots of the current news is really relevant, and can be a good conversation starter if you share it with a question.

Hashtags can also be useful to join conversations your network is having (though only use a few, otherwise you’ll be penalised by the algorithm), and find them by clicking on ‘my network’. You can also tag people in your posts if you know them or want their opinion, but do so sparingly to avoid spamming your network.

Finally, think about creating a mini content schedule for yourself. Keep an eye on when posts perform best, and schedule posts to go out at those times. That might be the weekend, evenings, or when your network is commuting – it’ll all depend on who you’re trying to connect with.

View the full webinar here.