How to optimize your LinkedIn Profile for better social selling

Estimated read time: 13 minutes


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LinkedIn is great social media network to connect with professional acquaintances, potential customers and share your thought leadership content. This video and article explain how you can maximize your brand on LinkedIn to help build your brand, generate leads and improve your social selling efforts.

In addition to what was presented in the video, let’s dive into some other tips and thoughts on optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

There are a few ways I use LinkedIn…

Stay connected to people

I use LinkedIn similarly to how I used to use a Rolodex 20 years ago. It’s my address book of connections. When I meet somebody new I will typically look them up on LinkedIn, thank them for meeting/the great discussion/etc. and ask them if they want to connect.

It’s far easier to keep contacts in a structured way this way.

Read next: How to automatically use LinkedIn to prepare for upcoming meetings

Consider to include a note in your connection requests

Connecting with people on LinkedIn is highly beneficial and you can even now connect in the moment while at conferences using the app.

The temptation to just connect with everyone that gives you their business card certainly is there. Or that you connected with on Twitter or who’s blog post you’ve read. The list of why you might connect with people on LinkedIn can be long.

A best practice to me seems to always include a personal message when inviting people to connect – especially if you haven’t met before.

It was nice to meet you at the conference. Would love to connect.

I’ve been reading your blog and would love to connect here as well.

(Other)

You could probably even have a templated message that you send to everyone.

Read next: [LinkedIn] How to stand out on LinkedIn by sending voice messages


What’s the Social Selling Index on LinkedIn and how should I use it?

I’m a pretty competitive guy so anything that’s measured I like to look at and see how I compare to others and-maybe even more importantly-to see where I can improve.

Trying to win isn’t bad! 🙂 Just do it in a way that allows your audience to win, too.

Like any digital metric, take them for what they are worth, use them to help you grow digital audiences and go from there.

The LinkedIn Social Selling Index measures these items/areas:

  • Establish a professional brand
  • Find the right people
  • Engage with insights
  • Build relationships

Social Selling Index score breakdown

LinkedIn measures your profile on a scale of 1-25 in each category and on a total combined max score of 100.

Connect with me on LinkedIn here.

So according to these metrics from a couple years ago I’m best at building relationships. Now, I wouldn’t disagree with that this is a strength but I also cannot tell you why that’s No. 1. An interesting stat and I’ll take the 25 out of 25 score.

Number two on my list is establishing my professional brand. I almost got a 24 out of 25 on that one. I assume that has to do with that my LinkedIn profile is filled out, I have a professional picture, around 100 recommendations, and try to follow all the best practices.

Next on the list with 22 and 25 is the category of finding the right people. I actually used the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to follow people who aren’t even in my network.

The category of engaging with insights got the lowest score with just over 20 points out of 25. This one is interesting because I’m a content creator and content strategist by trade and I would’ve just assumed that this one would be higher on the list.

So that appears to be an area of improvement and there’s always something to learn from here. How can I share even better insights?

Of course, everything comes back to the right strategy and understanding my audience. Some of the questions that I use to guide and improve my content and that your organization can use as well:

  • Who is my audience on LinkedIn?
  • The kind of content do they expect on the network?
  • Types of stories and content has previously performed well?
  • What insights can I share that are actually unique and are not just rehashing somebody else’s?
  • Is my content actually solving a problem and is it helpful?

So, my next step will be to figure out how to improve the content on LinkedIn and specifically for that audience. Now, certainly the score isn’t horrible but why not try to enhance it?

And as you can see in the chart below I have actually improved my LinkedIn social selling score from 81 to 91 out of 100 in under two months:

So like any digital metric I take it as an indicator and I also use it to improve my content and strategy. That’s really how all these metrics should be used-especially the ones that are easy to look at. This one is easily viewable inside the LinkedIn Sales Navigator app.

Get your score here

Metrics can help us prepare better content and be more relevant to our audiences which of course, as mentioned in my customer service book, can pay off long term for organizations.

Adding a short introductory video

LinkedIn videoLinkedIn rolled out in May 2021 the option to add a cover story video. This is another great way to introduce or re-introduce yourself to people. This shows up on the top of your profile and people can view it by clicking on your photo from the LinkedIn mobile apps.

To add the video, I recorded via Zoom from my computer in my studio/office. Here’s the video:

I then emailed it to myself, opened it on my iPad Pro, saved it to my video library and uploaded it to my LinkedIn profile.  Go to your profile, click the plus button on your image and upload up to 30 seconds.

You can also easily record it from your mobile device.

Using the Follow Button on LinkedIn Profile

I typically accept most people’s connection request but I know some people feel strongly about only accepting requests from people they know

There is one other way to cut down on connection request and that is by adding the follow button to your profile. When that’s activated the default action for people looking to connect with you is to actually follow you. No action required on your part when they click that button. Now they follow you but you aren’t following them.

The power of the follow button comes into play when you regularly share good content. This is another way to stay in front of people whether they are connected to you or follow you. 

To activate that button simply go to the settings from your LinkedIn profile and go to who can follow me.

From there simply turn that function on.


Adding a custom message when connecting with people via the LinkedIn app

It used to be harder to add the custom message when you connect with people through the mobile app. You actually had to click on the more button to be able to add a personalized message.

But starting in late 2019 LinkedIn added the add custom invite function directly on top of the connect button.

Once you click connect you then get prompted by this screen:

You still have the option to send without a note but at the very least it gives you the option and the prompt,

I would recommend to add a custom note even if it’s just something short and send the invite after that has been added.


Once connected should I sell?

The temptation is also there that once you’re connected with somebody who is a potential business lead is to send them a pitch.

In general I would recommend against that unless there is some previous connection or reason why you’re connecting. On the flipside, there might be an opportunity to send something that’s of relevance if you have spoken before or if the other person has given some indication that there might be interested in discussing the topic.

 

I’m glad to see LinkedIn has made connecting and following easier from the app and I would highly recommend everyone to use LinkedIn as a mutually beneficial networking tool.

Consider just having a conversation or asking some conversational questions.

Finding subject matter experts in my network

I can search my network by people’s names, locations and by any keyword listed in profiles. When I was searching for somebody with background in a specific area, for example.

Searching like this couldn’t easily be done in a Rolodex. Nobody lists all their areas of expertise on their business card or their previous employers!

That person knows who?

LinkedIn is also a great way to see who knows who. Remember that LinkedIn has strict rules that say you aren’t supposed to try to connect with people you don’t know. If a certain amount of people report that they don’t know you after your request to connect, your account could be limited or even suspended.

Oftentimes, however, you can still see other people’s profile – whether you are directly connected to them or not. That allows you to see whom they are connected to in your direct network. If you don’t want others to see your connections you can make that list private in settings.

Recommendations

Recommendations are written by others for specific jobs that you have listed on your profile. They take effort by the other person and are tremendously helpful. They also offer a glimpse into what the other person thinks are your strengths.

Read some of my recommendations here.

When somebody recommends me, I send them a thank you note and sometimes write a recommendation for them. I would caution from writing one as soon as you publish theirs. That could look like you are just exchanging recommendations.

I sometimes have asked specific people for recommendations. Usually, this is triggered by an online or offline exchange. For example, if somebody mentions publicly how they liked something I’ve done, I might ask them for a LinkedIn recommendation. But, I always make sure to let them know that I would understand if they rather not. It’s a fairly public act!

Just because somebody asks for a recommendation doesn’t mean they are necessarily looking for a job. It might just mean that they like keeping their profiles updated.

I write recommendations for others when I really appreciate something that they have done while in a specific position. The more specific the recommendation the better. “So and so is a good worker,” doesn’t tell us much about why he is a good worker.

Recommendations are a nice way to document publicly the good things going on in our professional lives.

Thank you again to everyone who has taken to time to recommend me!

Endorsements

Endorsements don’t take as much time for the other person as recommendations. People can click on your specific skills and endorse the skills that you have listed with your profile. When people endorse me for specific skills I also send them a thank you note. They don’t have to endorse me.

Finally, it’s a great way to see what your network in aggregate thinks your main strengths are. For example, social media marketing has ranked No. 1 for me for a while now. In essence the people who endorsed that skill also voted that to be my No. 1 skill.

You likely have seen endorsements on LinkedIn. You can endorse people for specific skills. These are one-click engagements – so super quick. And much quicker than recommendations – which are written out.

Endorsements look like this on your profile once you have some:

Some people have argued on social media that endorsements aren’t worth that much. If people wanted to endorse you in a meaningful way that they should write a recommendation.

Not sure why some people feel so strongly about it. I enjoy and appreciate it when people endorse or recommend me. Either way, one point of contention was that people would endorse other people when they didn’t have much basis on the endorsement. In other words: They had never seen the person perform the task they were endorsing them for.

It appears that LinkedIn listened to this outcry feedback. I went to endorse somebody – based on what I knew about them and once I did I got this popup:

First of all I was asked to rate how good they were at the area of endorsement.

Once I clicked that I got this screen:

LinkedIn is now qualifying what I’m basing my endorsement on by asking me how I know the person deserves an endorsement.

I’m not sure how this will be weighed and displayed – if it will be even. But it certainly a good step in my opinion.

I’ve always felt LinkedIn endorsements were worth something – maybe not as much as a written recommendation. But having dozens of endorsements in a skill certainly stands for something.

I applaud LinkedIn for apparently trying to add more context to it. We’ll see how it evolves.

Why LinkedIn assessments are worth it

LinkedIn assessments are a newish way to highlight your expertise on LinkedIn. Basically you can take a quiz of 15 questions and if you get at least 70 percent correct LinkedIn shows that you passed the quiz publicly.

That looks like this on your profile:

linkedin assessement quiz

In addition, when you apply for a job on LinkedIn the assessments are highlighted in your application.

linkedin assessment in application

There are real advantages to take the assessments. If you fail, that won’t be displayed publicly, but LinkedIn is trying to sell you on taking one of their courses on the topic.

They are also displayed in the skills and endorsements section on your LinkedIn profile.

asssessment display on profile

How to take a LinkedIn assessment

Go to your profile and scroll down to the endorsements. Simply click on take skills quiz.

linkedin assessement quiz

From there, you get options of available quizzes. Many of them are highly irrelevant to me, but LinkedIn seems to be adding more.

skill quiz on linkedin


List other networks and contact info

LinkedIn gives you the option to list a link to your blog, Twitter account, company website and list other contact information.

I find it helpful to keep this updated (then people can use it to get in touch with me) and I use this frequently to follow people on Twitter, check out and subscribe to their blog.

Read next: Are LinkedIn and Facebook groups still worth the effort?

Review who found you and other strategies

Good old networking-don’t forget about it. In fact, all of my successful LinkedIn campaigns pretty much had some kind of aspect of this in them. Talk with people. Everywhere. Online, too.

I also notice who found me by searching LinkedIn. Here is a breakdown of that. LinkedIn compiles that weekly and also shares what people were searching for. Review it and consider updating the profile when search terms aren’t matching.

 

Final thoughts

LinkedIn has become my Rolodex.

LinkedIn is a good network to connect with friends, acquaintances and professional contacts. It’s also great for business networking. The steps to accomplish that include having a robust LinkedIn profile, sharing valuable content and connecting with the right people.