7 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile and Gain More Leads

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LinkedIn has long been known as a tool and social media site for professionals. But a lot of us use LinkedIn with little thought to what we should actually put into our profiles. I was guilty of this myself! Some people hardly ever log on to the platform after setting up their profiles for the first time, unless they receive a request to connect or a message from a colleague.

But LinkedIn is a hugely powerful tool for professionals like us. I'll admit that I didn't used to think this way. And then I started learning more and more about how to make meaningful connections and optimize my profile for LinkedIn's search engine, which is ultimately what the platform is: a search engine for finding and connecting with professionals in a variety of industries.

So, how do you boost your LinkedIn profile in order to gain more leads? Here are my seven tips to do just that.

 1. Optimize your headline, summary and current experience.

Use keywords in these three areas of your profile so that potential clients can easily find you. How do you know which keywords to use? Think about the terms your client might use in a Google search if they were in the market to hire someone who provides your services. Make sure you use these words (keywords) in your headline, summary and current experience.

It's important not to be too generic. If you have a niche or specialized area you work in, highlight that. Use a headline that catches people's attention. And give a solid summary of what you do. This is like your elevator pitch, so make it count! For example, a translator who specializes in content marketing and communications might use the description:

I help clients refine their email campaigns, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging by translating their content into English so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process.

2. Publish native content.       

It's nice to repost other people's content or even to post short blurbs now and then linking to an article you read, but this type of interaction won't get you very far on LinkedIn. Why's that? Well, anytime you post or repost something (using the "Post" option), this content will show up in others' news feeds, but it will not remain in a prominent area of your profile for others to see when they are trying to learn more about you.

However, if you publish native content by choosing the "Write an article" option, these articles you share will remain in a prominent area of your profile as a thumbnail image. This is great for anyone who is looking at your profile, because they can easily see original content that you're sharing. Publishing native content allows you to show your expertise, writing skills and dedication to what you do. Remember to post regularly and consistently. If you would like to double up on your content, share a recent blog post from your website blog as an article on LinkedIn. You can always link the article back to your website to drive more traffic.

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3. Anytime you try to connect with someone, include a personalized message!

Trying to connect with others is a great way to grow your connections and potential pool of leads. However, when trying to connect with others on LinkedIn, make sure you don't send a request without a personalized message. If the person has never met you, they are less likely to accept your request without knowing why you're interested in connecting. Take the time to learn a little about them and how you can serve them before you send a request.

When you're ready to send a connection request, make sure you use the "Connect" button and not InMail, as the latter can sometimes seem salesy or spammy. Hit the "Connect" button and then "Add a note" so that you can write a brief message before you hit "Send".

4. Look for jobs, even if you're not looking for a job.

While you may not be looking for employment per se, a lot of freelance jobs are posted on LinkedIn. And even if you don't come across a lot of freelance job postings in your search, you can use this feature to see what keywords those who are posting the jobs are using in the job posts. This may help you to determine what keywords to put in your profile or even on your website!

Remember, those who post jobs on LinkedIn have to pay to do so (at least at the time of this blog post), so many of the postings are more legitimate or serious than a random job board that doesn't require those posting to put any skin in the game. If you’re interested in being contacted by recruiters, set your profile as visible by making sure you set the "Let recruiters know you're open to opportunities" toggle to "YES" in the Privacy settings.

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5. Hide the “People Also Viewed” box on your profile's sidebar.

You may not have noticed this little feature (I hadn't!), but there is an option for those who visit your profile to see a box that reads "People Also Viewed". It is located in the sidebar on your profile as a default setting. This is similar to when you're shopping for a product online and the site allows you to see similar products that might interest you. This feature is basically an invitation for those who visit your profile to leave and go elsewhere. So, take the time to turn it off by turning the "Viewers of this profile also viewed" toggle to "No" in your privacy settings.

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6. Don't pitch. Just share VALUE.

It is important to share value on a platform like LinkedIn. Let your profile speak for itself and simply try to share valuable content and information with others. This is not the place to make a sale. Rather, connect with others and get to know them as well. This is a great way to form relationships with other professionals, as well as to nurture potential leads who may later become paying clients.

7. Engage every day.

It is essential to engage with others on LinkedIn in order to get something out of it. In addition to posting, writing articles and reaching out to make connections, send a private message from time to time with a link to an article that might interest the recipient. Try to engage with a few people per day. If you are worried you won't have time or that this could take up a lot of your time, set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes and see how many people you can connect and engage with. Try to do this five days a week and watch your connections, engagement (and hopefully your leads!) grow.

Bonus Tips:

● Avoid inconsistencies with your resume if you are someone who sends your resume out to new clients. Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile match up for anyone who might wish to view both.

● Use a high-resolution, current and professional headshot.

● Use your profile to show your work. Since we can't often share a portfolio of past work we've done for clients (hello, confidentiality clauses!), we can still provide information on our expertise by showing blog posts, articles we've written, testimonials or recommendations, etc.

Now that you know a few tricks to to optimize your LinkedIn profile, make sure you take the time to update it from frequently. Dust it off. Go ahead. I just did the same with mine, and I'm already seeing that more people are visiting my profile and trying to connect. If you don't have the time to completely update your profile all at once, schedule 20 minutes this week and 20 minutes the next two weeks. In a month, you'll have a more current, updated profile that is much more likely to generate leads for your T&I business.