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Why Professionals Should Optimise Their LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn for professionals

Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a great tool for professionals. But to be useful you must understand the structure and parameters of the Profile. This will be the place prospective clients and business partners first check your professional status and expertise. The LinkedIn website makes it all straightforward – they even give you a score to tell you how well you are doing in the Profile stakes. The mechanical details are easy, but it nevertheless requires a degree of subtlety.

A Professional Profile

Obviously you want to highlight what you do – but to what extent, and where should you place the focus? Contrary to what may appear to be a common sense view, your history is somewhat irrelevant. Really, it’s not very important to any prospective client that you once captained the school under-18 seniors football team. That’s important to you. How about your first job in a multi-national accounting firm where you fell out of love with the corporatized culture and decided to open your own firm based on your own values. Sorry, no interest there either. Ah yes, there was the time you took a chance on an Indian immigrant just arrived in the country who turned out to be something of a genius in the money markets. Great story, yes? No.

Can you see a pattern here? No one is interested in any aspect of your career that has no quantifiable value to them today. It’s fine to write that you have been a personal injuries lawyer for thirty years and an accredited expert for the last  fifteen years, but that’s sufficient.

There is a place for greater detail, and that’s in your About Us page (or whatever you call it – “Our People” or “Our Team”) which resides happily on your website. The only criteria there is whether you have an arresting story to tell that is well written and informative. That’s the opportunity to create your firm’s narrative, not your LinkedIn Profile.

Use Your Client Persona

If you have created a client persona, this is where to put it into action. Who are the people who use your services, or those you would like to see come in for a free first interview? The answer to that question should determine the tone, content and tenor of your LinkedIn Profile.

Let’s say that you are a professional provider of financial services, and in particular self managed superannuation funds. Who is your ideal client persona:

  • New business owners who have moved from the employed sector and have had an industry fund, and will look to roll over to a self managed fund.
  • “Aspirationals” who are looking for a safety net for the future to buttress their present-day risk.
  • Those who want cutting-edge advice.
  • People within a decade of retirement. They need reassurance, a firm hand on the tiller and the beginning of a plan to see them into retirement. They are less interested in the here and now, they are starting to focus on the future.

Based on these “ideal clients”, these are the facts you should emphasise in your Profile:

  • Do not describe yourself as a “financial adviser”, even if that is the way you identify yourself. It’s too nebulous for your target audience. You could be a “Certified financial and strategic superannuation investment adviser”.
  • Concentrate on your expertise as an expert strategic investor for their futures – they want to concentrate on building their wealth.
  • Show you understand the needs of prospective clients whose retirements are drawing closer and worry about the lifestyle they will be able to afford, for themselves and their family.

Obviously the needs are different if you want to focus on your career opportunities, in that case recruiters will want to know more about your experience. But for mature professionals whose focus is prospective clients, it is their needs that are paramount.

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Australian Professionals Must Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn for Australian professionals Why should professionals join LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is all business. In a suit and tie (that’s a metaphor – you can use it in the comfort of your home in pajamas). We call it “social media” but really it’s not. It’s networking pure and simple. Not interested in networking? Really? Then don’t bother to read on, but you are missing out. LinkedIn costs you nothing, will not be resource intensive, and can be productively built over a long period. It pays you back in spades, but most importantly, it’s almost a first stop for fellow professionals and business clients when they’re checking you out. Think of it as your online business card.

What is LinkedIn?

Linkedin is there to help you find people who are valuable to your profession and business, and then find others who have connections to those people and so on. Let’s say you meet Ms. Accountant at a get together. You check out Ms. Accountant’s LinkedIn profile, like what you see, and send her an invitation to “join your network”. She accepts (this is almost a pro forma if you have had any association with the invitee, they’re almost certainly going to accept). This is where the networking effect of the social network takes over. It’s a cascading mechanism that is best explained by signing up and using it. The system creates a network for you, it is well tended by the LinkedIn administrators, and it is information rich. Most of all it is highly pragmatic. You will “meet” fellow professionals.

Understand the LinkedIn network

The best way to understand LinkedIn is to look at the networking levels. On LinkedIn, people in your network are called “connections” and your network is made up of your 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree connections, together with fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups.

1st degree – These are people with whom you have established a direct connection because you have invited them to join your network, or because you have accepted their direct invitation to join their network. You’ll know this is so because a “1st degree” icon attaches to their name when you search it. You can contact them directly on LinkedIn any time you like. In other words, having accepted your invitations to connect, you now have free access to each other.
2nd degree – These are people who are connected to your 1st degree connections. They have a “2nd degree” icon next to their name. You cannot contact them directly unless you have signed up for the InMail system (you pay for this).  However, you can still invite them to join your network and become a 1st degree connection, but to do this you must have an introduction e.g. you know their email or you have worked together.

3rd degree – These are people who are a 1st degree connection to your 2nd degree connection (LinkedIn describes this as a “friend of a friend”). They have a “3rd degree” icon next to their name. However, you can still invite them to join your network and become a 1st degree connection, but to do this you must have an introduction e.g. you know their email or you have worked together.

Group members – They’re in your network because you’re members of the same group (more about groups later in this Chapter). They have a “Group” icon next to their name. This alone makes it worth joining a Group, because you can send fellow members a message anytime. Let’s say you are a self managed superannuation fund professional – yes, there’s a group for you, the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia. There you will meet accountants, auditors, financial planners, lawyers, risk providers, actuaries, administrators and educators who are involved in the self managed superannuation industry.

How to begin

That’s easy – just do it. Go to LinkedIn and follow the instructions. The process is straightforward. They have a very useful Help Centre – the link is at the bottom of each LinkedIn page. You can read about LinkedIn in our MatureMedia Guide Introduction to Online Content Marketing. 

photo credit: nan palmero via photopin cc

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