In a previous blog post, we talked about using LinkedIn advertising for B2B marketing initiatives. Still, the platform offers more benefits than just its advertising capabilities, including valuable opportunities for social selling, business development and thought leadership.

Prospects look at LinkedIn profiles to learn more about a person and get a sense of whether they want to do business with an organization. So, if your profile shows you’re working at a job you held many years ago, has a picture of you from a decade ago, or worse yet, no picture at all, then it’s time for a revamp. You don’t want to lose a prospect because of an outdated or thin profile — it does happen!

The following explores three ways and best practices for further leveraging LinkedIn.

#1: Leverage LinkedIn for social selling

Social selling is part activity and part reputation. If you’re engaging on a prospect’s social channels, commenting on blogs and liking their content, then you have the activity part down. However, there’s also reputation to enhance, and with LinkedIn being the second most used platform for B2B marketers, it’s a natural place for doing so. The following details how to optimize your profile for social selling. Think you’ve got that down? Then jump ahead to our advice on leveraging LinkedIn for business development.

The main thing to keep in mind when updating your profile is that you’re writing for your prospects. Think about what they want to know about you and your company. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • What type of companies have you worked with that your prospects will want to know about?
  • How many companies have you worked with?
  • How have you enabled clients’ to achieve their goals?
  • What clients would be willing to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn?

With those answers in mind, it’s time to do some writing. First, write a value proposition for your headline. Don’t waste this space with just your title. Focus on who you help and how you help them.

Next, take a look at your summary. While it’s important to create a strong and detailed one, you need to ensure that you are reaching as many people as possible. Readers usually skim profiles, so create a concise and easy-to-read profile by aiming for 2 – 3 short paragraphs that include keywords prospects might search for. Also, include a call-to-action that explains why and how a prospect should get in touch with you.

Remember that the best profiles are written in first-person voice, using “I” and “You.” Stay true to who you are and be as real as you can. Prospects will respond to that. And on that note, do your best to avoid using buzzwords or jargon in your profile.

If your experience section needs updating, use bullet points and make sure you’re sharing how you helped others. Keep the focus on results and how you have enabled clients to achieve their goals.

Once you have updated all relevant copy, take a look at the aesthetic of your profile. Do you have an image in your LinkedIn header? If not, add it. Use a header image that incorporates your company’s branding so it is clear who you work for as soon as a prospect lands on your page. Are you highlighting articles you’ve written, multimedia assets or presentations? These are a great way to showcase your thought leadership — and we’ll focus on that a bit more below.

Now, circle back around to which clients you think would write a recommendation for you. Yes, a recommendation from your boss or former boss is great but one from a client is better. It will better reflect your credibility with prospects and demonstrate that you have valuable references.

#2: Leverage LinkedIn for business development

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for business development and engagement is key. If one of your connections posts an interesting article or piece of content, add a comment and start a discussion. The more you put yourself out there, the more visibility you will gain.

Take advantage of LinkedIn groups. Which groups are your prospects a part of and engaging in? Interact with those to build new, quality connections. When you’re starting or participating in conversations, keep these three things in mind:

  1. Ask specific questions to start a conversation.
  2. Once you start a discussion, don’t leave people hanging. Pay attention to what others are saying and respond when appropriate.
  3. Make sure all your posts and comments are relevant to the group.

When you find an individual you want to connect with on the platform – whether through a group or just on your feed – make sure you are sharing customized invitations.

Follow leaders in your industry as well. This is a great way to stay on top of trends and will give you some key points and insights when you’re writing LinkedIn posts or articles for thought leadership, which is our final step.

#3: Leverage LinkedIn for thought leadership

LinkedIn offers the biggest opportunity for social and content sharing for company employees and executives. The best way to garner the most engagement is through personal postings rather than a branded company page. And now that your profile is optimized, and you’re engaging with connections and within groups, it’s time to leverage the platform for your own thought leadership efforts.

Regular posting, along with engagement, will help extend your company’s reach as well as your own. A good rule of thumb is to post and share content at least 1 – 2x a week to start. And don’t overthink it. This content can be as simple as:

  • A status update about an achievement you helped a client reach
  • Updates from your company
  • Sharing an article, image or video related to your industry
  • A post that promotes a downloadable piece of content like an eBook or whitepaper from your company

Aside from these updates, be sure to publish longer content as well in the form of a LinkedIn article. Share advice, insights or big ideas relevant to your prospects. Once you publish an article, don’t forget to share it as a status update. You can also share it within the groups you’ve joined or use it in a personalized note to a new contact.

It’s important to remember that LinkedIn isn’t just for your resume or text-only updates. The platform allows live videos, uploaded videos and photos in its feed. Sharing updates with a mix of multimedia makes the content more eye-catching while giving your followers different ways to consume it.

Once you’ve got your thought leadership strategy down, consider kicking things up a notch by creating content with other thought leaders. This will help you network and build even more new connections.

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile and keeping it up to date is crucial to attracting prospects. Continue to invest time in your profile, highlight your expertise, post updates and articles, and you’ll be on your way to attracting new prospects.