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Promote and validate your profile on LinkedIn to become a sought after Contractor!

By now, you undoubtedly know that a strong LinkedIn profile is critical for your Contracting career and your personal brand. But with over 470 million LinkedIn users, how do you craft a profile that stands out?

In our recent blog, we outlined how to create an effective profile, but in this post we discuss how to really optimise it to make it the ultimate social selling tool, and what steps to take when trying to land your next contract role. It's time to seal the deal!

These social selling tips are inspired and validated by the profiles of the most successful leaders on LinkedIn. Here are tips on how you can transform your profile and turn into an effective professional branding platform that really sells you:

#1: Use Your Profile to Create "The Story of You":

When it comes profile it's important to present yourself in a professional manner, as well as being able to offer your (potential) client valuable insights into what you do. Take the time to fill out your LinkedIn profile completely. Though it may look daunting, it's not as difficult as it seems.

A LinkedIn profile is an excellent opportunity for a contractor to put their education, experience, accreditations and specialties on display as well as the multiple roles they have fulfilled for different clients. By leaving your profile incomplete - or not keeping it updated - you are keeping valuable information about your qualifications hidden from people who may be interested in hiring you.

Your profile should be personal and NOT read like a CV! Customise your LinkedIn experience with a compelling headline / narrative that's personal. People visiting your profile will make a judgement about who you are and what you have to offer, make sure that they're seeing you in the best possible light:

  • Upload a professional photo: You are 11 times more likely to have your LinkedIn profile viewed if you have a picture.
  • Writing a compelling headline: Add your current title and a tagline about how you help your customers.
  • Adding a summary: Your summary in essence is the 'story of you.' Share your vision / mantra.
  • Adding rich media like videos and presentation to maximise your exposure on LinkedIn and better showcase your story.
  • Include keywords in your summary sections to enhance search engine optimisation. Adding keywords and phrases that are relevant to your skills and specialties optimises your profile for search, meaning your profile will be listed when someone searches LinkedIn, or the internet, for those words. Dedicating a few extra minutes of your time to researching and adding applicable keywords can make a big difference in highlighting your value as a contractor.

#2: Stay Active

While having a complete profile posted on LinkedIn is an excellent start, it's important to take advantage of the other social features on LinkedIn.

Use LinkedIn status updates to share valuable and interesting content with your network. You can link to your own blog posts, give updates on recent developments, or even just share interesting and relevant news. Join LinkedIn Groups to maintain an active and visible presence on the social network while making connections and sharing information with peers and colleagues. These groups provide another avenue to connect with new people. When you are active on LinkedIn, you spread your reach, show expertise, and build a powerful network.

You can add a banner at the top of your post. Canva is a really useful tool for creating visually appealing images to display as banners on your LinkedIn blog post. Choose a banner that will catch the eye of readers, pick a headline that will grab their attention, and then share, share, share. To further enhance your blog post, remember to vary the content. Add a mixture of text, images and videos to keep readers engaged. When setting out on writing your blog post, make sure to write about something your audience is interested in.

You want to stand out as a thought leader so make sure to post things such as:

#3: Cross-Promote

As a professional contractor it is crucial to use every opportunity to promote yourself with social media and other marketing efforts so you are easy to find online. Linking and creating back-links is crucial to your SEO, using this integrated approach will also improve your online search relevance - meaning that your name will be closer to the top of the page when prospective clients search for someone with your qualifications. LinkedIn is an excellent way for a professional contractor to link back to their website and other social media accounts, as well as to post and share specific blog posts with their network. This will help boost "brand" awareness. Remember, you are your brand!

#4: Gain Recommendations

When someone gives you a recommendation on LinkedIn, it tells those who view your profile that you are who you say you are, and gives credibility to your skills and expertise. The key to getting quality recommendations is to be proactive. By writing recommendations for others, you give them the incentive to return the favour. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a recommendation, if appropriate. When sending a request through LinkedIn, make sure that your message is professional, personalised and informative - if it's been awhile since you worked together, include a quick reminder about who you are and what project you worked on together.

#5: Build and Use Your Network Connections

LinkedIn isn't intended to replace face-to-face interactions, instead, it optimises your ability to know more about people you've met or about to meet. When you work as a professional contractor, your business depends on your reputation. Your reputation is based on connecting and working with the right people. Use LinkedIn to reach out to industry leaders and peers who may provide advice, assistance or referrals, and to stay in touch with past and current colleagues and clients. Having these contacts in your network gives you an easy way to update them on new developments in your career, which keeps you on their radar.

This strong network of contacts is also an effective way to market yourself. Don't overlook opportunities to put your connections to work for you by asking them to share your status updates or latest blog posts, or request a recommendation, as mentioned above. People are five times more likely to engage with you if the outreach is through a mutual connection. See who within your network is connected to your 2nd or 3rd degree connections and request an introduction.

If you're currently looking for referrals, or a partner for a particular project, don't hesitate to reach out to your LinkedIn network. You never know how a connection can work to your advantage.

#6: Benchmark Your Success:

As a brand, it's important to measure your success and how well you're performing. The LinkedIn SSI (Social Selling Index) tool gives you the ability to see where you stand when it comes to social selling and allows you to see how you're performing on each of the four elements of social selling:

  • •Establishing Your Professional Brand
  • •Finding The Right People
  • •Engaging With Insights
  • •Building Relationships

Read LinkedIn's own post "4 Ways to Boost Your SSI Score (And Why It Matters)" for more information on this.

As always, best of luck with your social marketing endeavours, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me!

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Sunday, 22 October 2017