With all the buzz about social media and the speed at which it progresses, it is sometimes hard to separate the hype from the real help. It can be intimidating to understand because there are so many tools available to use. For anyone starting out in social media, I always advise them to start with one tool, and learn how to use it well before moving on to the next. In this three part series, I will make the case as to why printers should choose LinkedIn.com as the first platform you should be on. I will show you how to optimize your personal profile, how to increase your visibility and also how to use it to promote your business through Company Pages.
What is social networking?
If you are a print shop owner, you know that having that personal touch in business is important. You strive to have meaningful business relationships with your customers and value the interaction you have with them on a one-on-one basis. You take an active interest their businesses and in turn are rewarded by their loyalty in the long run. If this sounds like what you are doing now, that is great. Now you can take that personal approach and apply it online through social networking, which is extending your presence and interacting with your customers and prospects online with tools such as LinkedIn.
The first step in your social media journey starts with YOU. If you are the owner, partner or employee of a printing company then you need to have a professional profile on LinkedIn.com. With over 131 million members in over 200 countries and over 4 million users in Canada, LinkedIn is where you will find your target audience. Whether it is VPs of Marketing, Directors of Marketing, Brand Managers or Procurement Managers, they can all be found on this social networking site. Based on the concept of 6 degrees of separation, this is the site where you start to connect directly with people you know and can research the people you want to get to know – such as decision makers who can purchase your products or services. Consider it an online Rolodex that is always kept up to date.
5 Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is the place to put your professional foot forward. Your online profile is the place to showcase your business background, your expertise and credentials. Here are five tips to help you present your best self online:
Write a descriptive headline
Your headline is the sentence that appears just below your name. Rather than just stating your title and company, make it a short descriptive phrase that provides a snapshot of what you and your company do. For example: Account Manager at XYZ Printing Company, specializing in variable printing and database marketing solutions.
Upload a professional photo
You know the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Make sure you upload a professional photo of yourself, preferably in colour and against a light or neutral background that includes only yourself – no pets or kids! A friendly photo of yourself will draw people into you. Plus, LinkedIn statistics show that a profile with a photo is seven times more likely to be viewed than one that without a photo.
Tell your story in the summary
The summary section is the place where you can shine and “tell your story.” Are you passionate about printing? Do you have a certain philosophy about how you serve customers? Definitely state it here and show how you are unique. Also, make sure that you summarize your experience here to back it up. For this section, make sure you write in full sentences in the “first” person, using the word “I”. Two or three short paragraphs will be enough.
Add specialties and skills
There are two places in your profile where you can list your expertise. One is in the “specialties” section underneath your summary and the other is under “skills” – where you can add up to 50 of them. Make sure you pay extra attention to skills, because this one of the key ways in which you will be found when someone conducts a search. Be specific, using terms such as: digital printing, wide format printing, print on demand, event graphics, banners, etc.
In order to have a 100% complete profile on LinkedIn you will have to add at least three recommendations to your profile. This is the place where you can ask your satisfied customers to provide a short testimonial for you. After all, nothing beats a word of mouth referral.
In the next article, I will cover how you can increase your personal visibility on LinkedIn. But first make sure you complete your profile. See you on online!