Why you should be on LinkedIn when you’re not looking for a job

Everyone knows that if you’re looking for a job or recruiting for one, LinkedIn is the place to go. Being around since 2003, LinkedIn has proved its longevity in the fickle social media space. And the secret to its sustained success is not based on the job market – although that certainly is a unique offering. Even with its job advertising functionality, Facebook is not the authority in this space, and employers looking for a certain calibre of employee would arguably look for them on LinkedIn instead.

But back to you. You’re not looking for a job or staff. You’re probably looking for customers though. And this is where a polished and updated LinkedIn profile can work for you. The majority of LinkedIn’s over 600-million members are professionals in their fields looking for a person, product or service to fill their need. This is why you need to harness your LinkedIn profile as a sales fact sheet rather than a convenient online CV of all the companies you’ve worked for.

With a strong profile, you build your personal brand, stand out from others in your industry and improving your Google ranking. So how do you do this?

  1. Upload a professional head-and-shoulders photo of yourself. Just yourself. Not your cat, your best friend or your favourite cocktail. Don’t use a selfie – at the very least ask a friend to take a picture of you against a plain background. Make sure it’s 400 x 400 pixels and don’t crop it too tight.
  2. Update your cover image with a photo that’s representative of what you do. Don’t use that cool sunset pic you took during your last holiday in Durban, or the Jacaranda-tree lined street outside your office. These images are no doubt beautiful but don’t serve your selling purpose – unless you’re a photographer. This images should be 1 584 x 396 px (4:1) and as close to 8MB as possible to avoid pixelation.
  3. The profile headline appears directly under your name and is your prime selling tool. Use these 120 characters to explain how you solve a specific problem. Don’t include your job title or company name.
  4. Use your “About” section to elaborate on your headline. NB: always keep your potential customer in mind. Don’t write about how wonderful your product/service is. Rather highlight how what you do solves a problem. Your customers’ problem. Keep it short and jargon-free.

Not everyone feels confident in writing a compelling yet simple description for their profiles. Most agencies have a copywriter that can help out.

Now that you’ve got the basics done it’s time to let your customers know you’re there and ready to connect. 

  • Start by connecting with former clients, colleagues, employers, employees and even friends.
  • Post relevant updates. Share business trends from reliable sources. Write articles.
  • Engage with others’ content – comment, share or post a reaction. LinkedIn has also gone from beyond just “liking” a post to “celebrate”, “love”, “insightful” and “curious”.
  • Join groups related to your interests and industries and participate in discussions. Make sure you take a balanced approach and don’t dominate discussions (no one likes a know-it-all).
  • Ask for and give recommendations. Ensure you only request recommendations from people you have worked with and when you give a recommendation, be authentic. And if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all. Kindly decline the request for a recommendation.

To pay or not to pay?

LinkedIn is a free platform for all to use but anyone can upgrade to a premium membership at any time. When you decide to go premium, LinkedIn will ask you what your main objective is – are you a job seeker, looking at growing your network, etc.

Most people do not need a premium account. The greatest benefit of the premium account is generally the ability to send InMail – an inbox message to someone you are not yet connected to. This makes it the perfect way to personally pitch to a prospective client, but as it carries no guarantees of paying off, you might want to try connecting with them first and then messaging them.

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