LinkedIn Strategy for the Independent Professional

If you are a one-person business, the thought of online marketing is probably overwhelming. With the demands of business development, sales, and customer service, there is little time for exploring opportunities online.

Let me help you with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social network your business cannot afford to ignore. More than 562 million professionals worldwide are on LinkedIn.

Once primarily a platform for professionals seeking their next position, LinkedIn is now a key place used for both personal and business purposes to validate the credentials of professionals, find professionals for key services, and to understand professional networks.

Share Your Message

Your messaging on LinkedIn should be consistent with your messaging everywhere else. Use the same value proposition. Speak to your target audience.

Carry your keywords into your LinkedIn presence. Use the same words and phrases that help people find you on search engines.

LinkedIn Profile Tips

For most independent professionals, a LinkedIn profile is all that is needed to have a credible presence. A company page is not required.

The key is to make that profile an accurate picture of your professional credentials and the work you do. It should speak to your target customer.

Images

Use a current professional head shot. When you meet people in person they should not wonder how you suddenly aged 🙂 Show who you are.

Don’t keep the default background image! Use a custom photo that better represents your business and expertise.

Intro Section

  • Don’t use the default headline of your title and company name. Use a headline that uses your keywords and speaks to the service you provide.
  • Make sure your summary section explains what you do and why your services are needed.

Experience Section

Include all experience that relates to what you do now. There is no need to include every job you have had. Focus descriptions on the things that you did that relate to your current audience and your current business.

Skills Section

You can list up to 50 skills. Add as many skills as you can find that are relevant to your expertise and your activities.

Accomplishments Section

List all relevant accomplishments, including certifications, publications, honors and awards and organizations.

Recommendations

Ask for clients and former colleagues to write a recommendation.

Contact Info

List all the ways that connections can contact you. Be sure to keep this accurate!

Engage on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social platform. You need to interact for your presence to be effective.

  • Connect your personal profile with all clients and business contacts.
    • For individuals, send a personalized connection request
    • For company pages, click the “Follow” button on the page
  • Ask clients to recommend you on LinkedIn using the LinkedIn tool for this.
    • Go to the profile of any connection>Select the … icon to the right of the profile picture>Select Request a Recommendation>Follow the wizard and customize the message
  • Join groups that are relevant to the types of business you want to work with, to your area of service, and to the services you provide. Comment on posts and consider making occasional posts.
  • Post a status update periodically. At least once a month, share an update:
    • Welcome a new client
    • Share a takeaway from an event
    • Post a link to your website or content you have posted elsewhere online
    • Be creative – anything your target client cares about is a good idea

These basics will help you to have a more robust, findable presence on LinkedIn that is in concert with your website and other online marketing efforts.

Does Every Company Deserve PR?

Guest post by Karen Addis, APR, President & CEO, Addis Communications

I recently participated in a roundtable discussion with industry professionals and academics about the future of PR education. We discussed at length issues such essential skills future practitioners need to possess.

I’m pleased to say that everyone agreed writing is still an essential skill. The best practitioners are strong writers.

Another item that was discussed was ethics, an issue that continues dominate the news. That led to one of the participant’s posing the question: “Does every company deserve PR representation?”

It stopped the conversation cold. For a group of communicators to suddenly go quiet is unusual!

It was a great question and got us all thinking. Our conclusion: No, not every company deserves PR representation. After all, PR professionals are not the same as attorneys.

The discussion also got me thinking beyond ethics. There are some companies, even if they are not involved in wrongdoing or ethical dilemmas, that do not deserve PR representation. I realize that is a rather harsh statement to make as someone who has been on the sales side of PR for the past dozen years.

Over the course of my career, I’ve come to realize there are some companies that should not hire PR agencies because they lack an understanding of what PR is and what it can accomplish.

Here is what PR is not:

  • We are not miracle workers. Every company has problems that need to be fixed. If you have a car that gets poor ratings on crash tests, you need to correct the manufacturing flaws. No amount of PR is going to fix the root of the problem.
  • We cannot guarantee media coverage. If you want assurances that your organization will appear in the media, buy an ad or pay for a sponsored article.
  • We are not the same as sales and marketing. Yes, we support those functions, but rarely can we guarantee PR will directly improve your sales.
  • We cannot operate in a vacuum. The best client-agency relationship is a partnership, a two-way collaboration. We can only take projects so far and ultimately need clients’ input.
  • We are not “spin doctors.” While we position our clients in the best light possible, if an organization or its management is involved in illegal or unethical behavior, that’s an entirely different matter. Hire an attorney. And if a company is not genuinely interested in making amends and righting its wrongs, PR is not your answer.

So now that you know what PR is not, how do you decide whether PR is right for you?

Here’s some guidance:

  • You look at PR as a strategic partner that can offer thoughtful insight and advice, not simply tactical order takers.
  • You view PR as an integral part of your organization’s success, along with other key functions, such as sales, marketing, finance and operations.
  • You understand PR is a two-way street and cannot operate in a vacuum.
  • You see the value PR brings to an organization – and what it cannot do.
  • You recognize that PR is an ongoing process, not just a tool to fix a problem and then disappear.

Every company benefits from PR, but an organization needs to have a clear understanding of what what it can and cannot accomplish. Smart, forward-looking executives understand this, and those who don’t aren’t ready for PR.

About the Author

Karen Addis, APR, is president and CEO of Addis Communications. She  is a seasoned communications professional who is committed to collaborating with clients to help them achieve success. She has been in her clients’ shoes and understands the demands placed on today’s communications teams of doing more with less and the internal challenges they must navigate.

Get Emotional With Your Audience

Connecting with your audience is not enough. Research shows that people who feel emotionally connected to your organization will engage more often and spend more money.

General Motivators

Emotionally connected people are loyal, active, and engaged. Common emotional motivators:

  • Stand out from the crowd: Help people develop a unique social identity.
  • Confidence in the future: Help people to have a positive mental picture of the future.
  • Sense of well-being: Life measures up to expectations.
  • Freedom: Sense of independence without obligation or restriction.
  • Excitement:  Fun taps our emotions.
  • Belonging: Affiliation and being part of a meaningful group.

Your Audience’s Motivators

Figure out what emotional motivators bring people to your organization by analyzing interactions of your most committed and engaged audience members. Why do they do what they do? What do they react to positively? Negatively?

Once you’ve identified the emotional motivators that connect you with your best supporters, you can figure out how to better connect with others. Communicate to appeal to emotional motivators. Interact in a way that meets key desires,