Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Profile to Generate Leads

Kristi Hines ,


When it comes to generating leads for your business, LinkedIn is the best network to turn to since it is specifically aimed towards professionals. In a study by HubSpot of 5,000 businesses, LinkedIn’s visitor-to-lead conversion was 2.74% - three times higher than Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%) combined. With 175 million members worldwide, including executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies according to LinkedIn’s About Us page, it is definitely the place to be if your business targets any type of business professional as a potential client.

So how can you take advantage of these numbers and start generating leads from LinkedIn? In this three part series, we’re going to look at how to utilize your personal profile, company page, and analytics to their fullest extent to generate quality leads for your business.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Professional Profile for Leads

To get started with lead generation on LinkedIn, you must complete or edit your professional LinkedIn profile with leads in mind and encourage your employees to do likewise. Here are some ways to do this.

Keyword Optimization

Your first goal is to make sure that people searching your business industry and expertise can find you quickly, and the way to do it is through keyword optimization of your profile. For example, if your business offers real estate marketing services, you would want your profile and that of your employees to come up in LinkedIn search for real estate marketing.

The reason these people show up in LinkedIn search results is the keywords in their profile. LinkedIn marketing expert Lewis Howes suggests adding keywords to these areas of your profile to rank higher.

  • HeadlineYour headline is particularly important as it shows up next to your name in several key areas on LinkedIn, including search results and next to your LinkedIn Answers.
  • Current Work ExperienceYour current job title also appears in search results. If you have more than one current position listed, the most recent will be shown first. On your main profile, your most recent three positions will be shown.
  • Past Work ExperienceYour most recent past job title will be shown in search results, and your most recent three positions will be shown In the top of your profile. Summary – This section allows you to write an introductory paragraph or two. Be sure that it not only includes your targeted keywords but also makes people want to contact you to learn more about your business.
  • SpecialtiesThis is where you list your expertise in keyword form. You can add several targeted keywords in this area.

Note that, in the search results shown above, any instance of a searched keyword is bolded. Hence, having your keywords in a variety of places on your profile will help it stand out in results.

When adding additional details to sections like your current and past work experience, don’t just add the typical resume-style bullet points. Add a sentences or two about how you solved problems for your company or your clients. Remember that most people will follow a call to action (like contacting you) if they see something that shows how you can solve a pain point for them.

I also suggest taking advantage of different ways of adding keywords to your profile including the following.

  • GroupsJoining groups in your industry not only helps you connect with other professionals, but you can also list these groups publicly on your profile. As a Real Estate marketer, you will be building up your ranking for Real Estate by being in groups with Real Estate in the title.
  • EducationWhen you are adding schools that you have attended to your profile, be sure to add any degree, field of study, activities, and societies that include your targeted keywords with each school listing.
  • Additional SectionsIf you go to edit your LinkedIn profile, you will likely see a prompt to add new sections. These include certifications, courses, honors & awards, organizations, projects, and other credentials. Be sure to add these if you have any that applies to your industry and can add more keywords to your profile.
  • RecommendationsRecommendations add trust to your profile. Encourage people you have worked with to leave you recommendations for current and past work positions in the industry you want to be recognized in.

Websites

If you want your leads to visit your website, you will want to draw attention to your websites. Listing them with the default My Company, My Website, or My Blog isn’t going to give off a great impression. Since you can add three website links, make them count by adding them as Other. This way, you can customize the text for your links.

Now you can add your main homepage with your company name and direct visitors to your profile to specific lead generating pages on your website such as your mailing list or product sign up pages.

Publications

Under the earlier mentioned additional sections is one for Publications. You don’t have to have a book published on Amazon to use this section. Instead, if you have a free eBook or whitepaper on your website that you give away to gather more information about leads, include that in your publications.

The best part is that you can link directly to the page on your website with that publication. Also encourage any authors or contributors to your publications to include them on their LinkedIn profiles as social media strategist Stephanie Sammons has done with her contribution to a guide for HubSpot.

Making Connections with Your LinkedIn Profile

Once your profile is optimized for leads, you can either sit back and wait for people to find you or actively seek prospective clients throughout the LinkedIn network to connect with. Here are a few proven ways to make connections that can turn into leads beyond importing your email contacts.

Connect with Former Colleagues, Alumni, and People You May Know

LinkedIn is serious about allowing people to add only those they know in real life to their network. That said, they have opened up other avenues to finding new connections beyond just your own email address book. This includes connecting with former colleagues that you have worked with, alumni you went to school with, and people you may know based on your current connections. (Please note these links only work if you are logged in to your LinkedIn profile.)

Making these connections isn’t about taking a walk down memory lane – you never know when someone you have worked with or went to school with in the past may now be a potential lead. Also, the more connections you have, the larger your LinkedIn network will become. And the larger your LinkedIn network, the more chance you have of being discovered by potential leads in search results or other areas of LinkedIn.

Providing Help in LinkedIn Answers

Most businesses will find a hotbed of potential leads in LinkedIn Answers. Here, you can find people asking questions on a variety of topics from Administration through Technology.

By simply answering people’s questions, you will generate interest in your profile and your company as an expert in your industry. Most people find that answering questions on LinkedIn Answers leads to new business inquiries and, if nothing else, new connections to your LinkedIn network.

Utilizing LinkedIn Groups

Last, but not least, you can take advantage of LinkedIn groups in a variety of ways to expand your network of connections, meet new potential leads, and even send them emails.

  • By joining and participating in existing LinkedIn groups in your industry, you have the chance to connect with potential leads, demonstrating your expertise. Once you have interacted with someone a few times and feel confident they would recognize your name in their connection requests, you can add them as a connection based on your shared membership in the group. This means you can bypass identifying them as a colleague, classmate, or other business partner.
  • By establishing your own LinkedIn group, you get the above benefits as well as the option to email members of your group once a week. This means that if you can find ways of providing valuable information for your members regularly via your email, you can also incorporate promotional emails for your business that align with the goals of the group. You also get to create an auto-responder email in LinkedIn welcoming new members to the group which can be a mixture of an introduction of the group as well as an introduction to you, the group administrator.

A great example of a business-owned group is the Business Knowledge Share powered by American Express. It is almost 7,000 members strong, attracting the perfect small business leads for American Express’ merchant solutions.

Your best bet is to find successful groups in your industry, join them, and participate for a while to get a feel for what types of group discussions thrive the best for the audience you wish to target. Once you are comfortable with using groups, then start your own and invite your network to it.

Be sure to join us for the next post in this series on how to optimize your LinkedIn company page for lead generation and follow Jumplead on LinkedIn.

When it comes to generating leads for your business, LinkedIn is the best network to turn to since it is specifically aimed towards professionals. In a study by HubSpot of 5,000 businesses, LinkedIn’s visitor-to-lead conversion was 2.74% - three times higher than Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%) combined. With 175 million members worldwide, including executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies according to LinkedIn’s About Us page, it is definitely the place to be if your business targets any type of business professional as a potential client.

So how can you take advantage of these numbers and start generating leads from LinkedIn? In this three part series, we’re going to look at how to utilize your personal profile, company page, and analytics to their fullest extent to generate quality leads for your business.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Professional Profile for Leads

To get started with lead generation on LinkedIn, you must complete or edit your professional LinkedIn profile with leads in mind and encourage your employees to do likewise. Here are some ways to do this.

Keyword Optimization

Your first goal is to make sure that people searching your business industry and expertise can find you quickly, and the way to do it is through keyword optimization of your profile. For example, if your business offers real estate marketing services, you would want your profile and that of your employees to come up in LinkedIn search for real estate marketing.

The reason these people show up in LinkedIn search results is the keywords in their profile. LinkedIn marketing expert Lewis Howes suggests adding keywords to these areas of your profile to rank higher.

  • HeadlineYour headline is particularly important as it shows up next to your name in several key areas on LinkedIn, including search results and next to your LinkedIn Answers.
  • Current Work ExperienceYour current job title also appears in search results. If you have more than one current position listed, the most recent will be shown first. On your main profile, your most recent three positions will be shown.
  • Past Work ExperienceYour most recent past job title will be shown in search results, and your most recent three positions will be shown In the top of your profile. Summary – This section allows you to write an introductory paragraph or two. Be sure that it not only includes your targeted keywords but also makes people want to contact you to learn more about your business.
  • SpecialtiesThis is where you list your expertise in keyword form. You can add several targeted keywords in this area.

Note that, in the search results shown above, any instance of a searched keyword is bolded. Hence, having your keywords in a variety of places on your profile will help it stand out in results.

When adding additional details to sections like your current and past work experience, don’t just add the typical resume-style bullet points. Add a sentences or two about how you solved problems for your company or your clients. Remember that most people will follow a call to action (like contacting you) if they see something that shows how you can solve a pain point for them.

I also suggest taking advantage of different ways of adding keywords to your profile including the following.

  • GroupsJoining groups in your industry not only helps you connect with other professionals, but you can also list these groups publicly on your profile. As a Real Estate marketer, you will be building up your ranking for Real Estate by being in groups with Real Estate in the title.
  • EducationWhen you are adding schools that you have attended to your profile, be sure to add any degree, field of study, activities, and societies that include your targeted keywords with each school listing.
  • Additional SectionsIf you go to edit your LinkedIn profile, you will likely see a prompt to add new sections. These include certifications, courses, honors & awards, organizations, projects, and other credentials. Be sure to add these if you have any that applies to your industry and can add more keywords to your profile.
  • RecommendationsRecommendations add trust to your profile. Encourage people you have worked with to leave you recommendations for current and past work positions in the industry you want to be recognized in.

Websites

If you want your leads to visit your website, you will want to draw attention to your websites. Listing them with the default My Company, My Website, or My Blog isn’t going to give off a great impression. Since you can add three website links, make them count by adding them as Other. This way, you can customize the text for your links.

Now you can add your main homepage with your company name and direct visitors to your profile to specific lead generating pages on your website such as your mailing list or product sign up pages.

Publications

Under the earlier mentioned additional sections is one for Publications. You don’t have to have a book published on Amazon to use this section. Instead, if you have a free eBook or whitepaper on your website that you give away to gather more information about leads, include that in your publications.

The best part is that you can link directly to the page on your website with that publication. Also encourage any authors or contributors to your publications to include them on their LinkedIn profiles as social media strategist Stephanie Sammons has done with her contribution to a guide for HubSpot.

Making Connections with Your LinkedIn Profile

Once your profile is optimized for leads, you can either sit back and wait for people to find you or actively seek prospective clients throughout the LinkedIn network to connect with. Here are a few proven ways to make connections that can turn into leads beyond importing your email contacts.

Connect with Former Colleagues, Alumni, and People You May Know

LinkedIn is serious about allowing people to add only those they know in real life to their network. That said, they have opened up other avenues to finding new connections beyond just your own email address book. This includes connecting with former colleagues that you have worked with, alumni you went to school with, and people you may know based on your current connections. (Please note these links only work if you are logged in to your LinkedIn profile.)

Making these connections isn’t about taking a walk down memory lane – you never know when someone you have worked with or went to school with in the past may now be a potential lead. Also, the more connections you have, the larger your LinkedIn network will become. And the larger your LinkedIn network, the more chance you have of being discovered by potential leads in search results or other areas of LinkedIn.

Providing Help in LinkedIn Answers

Most businesses will find a hotbed of potential leads in LinkedIn Answers. Here, you can find people asking questions on a variety of topics from Administration through Technology.

By simply answering people’s questions, you will generate interest in your profile and your company as an expert in your industry. Most people find that answering questions on LinkedIn Answers leads to new business inquiries and, if nothing else, new connections to your LinkedIn network.

Utilizing LinkedIn Groups

Last, but not least, you can take advantage of LinkedIn groups in a variety of ways to expand your network of connections, meet new potential leads, and even send them emails.

  • By joining and participating in existing LinkedIn groups in your industry, you have the chance to connect with potential leads, demonstrating your expertise. Once you have interacted with someone a few times and feel confident they would recognize your name in their connection requests, you can add them as a connection based on your shared membership in the group. This means you can bypass identifying them as a colleague, classmate, or other business partner.
  • By establishing your own LinkedIn group, you get the above benefits as well as the option to email members of your group once a week. This means that if you can find ways of providing valuable information for your members regularly via your email, you can also incorporate promotional emails for your business that align with the goals of the group. You also get to create an auto-responder email in LinkedIn welcoming new members to the group which can be a mixture of an introduction of the group as well as an introduction to you, the group administrator.

A great example of a business-owned group is the Business Knowledge Share powered by American Express. It is almost 7,000 members strong, attracting the perfect small business leads for American Express’ merchant solutions.

Your best bet is to find successful groups in your industry, join them, and participate for a while to get a feel for what types of group discussions thrive the best for the audience you wish to target. Once you are comfortable with using groups, then start your own and invite your network to it.

Be sure to join us for the next post in this series on how to optimize your LinkedIn company page for lead generation and follow Jumplead on LinkedIn.

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Kristi Hines
Freelance writer, business blogger.
http://kristihines.com/