LinkedIn logoOver the last few weeks I’ve been working with several clients who have each wanted to make LinkedIn work harder for their small business. So I thought it would be worth sharing the advice I’ve given them – LinkedIn is a great networking tool and with a bit of tinkering your profile page can become a valuable and hard-working networking space.

1. Don’t be shy!

You may hate the thought of having your photograph up there, but it’s an absolute must. You don’t go to networking events with a paper bag over your head (hopefully!), so why hide yourself away on this particular networking forum? It’s all about networking and forming relationships, and being visible and looking approachable counts. So no cartoons, no Avatars, no company logos (all against the rules of LinkedIn, incidentally), just a decent likeness of yourself, as long as you avoid anything remotely connected with the fantastic beach holiday you took last summer or your wedding! – think ‘approachable, friendly business person’.

2. Give yourself a decent title

Just because LinkedIn is a business-to-business networking site you don’t have to go all formal and corporate with your job title. The line beneath your name is your Professional Headline and it should describe succinctly what you do. For instance, mine says: Small business-friendly Marketing Consultant | Marketing Strategy & Planning | Virtual Marketing Manager |, not just ‘Business Owner’, ‘Chartered Marketer’ or ‘Marketing Consultant’.

Think about your target audience and the benefits you can offer to them, and what makes you different. On LinkedIn you are alongside 100 million others so you need to stand out. Find the words that will convey exactly that, but remember you have a maximum of 100 characters to do so.

3. Make it more than a conventional CV

LinkedIn is not a CV so don’t fall into the trap of making your profile look and read like one. You can control how your LinkedIn profile page appears – did you know, for instance, that you can change the order in which sections appear? Why let those vital customer recommendations languish at the bottom of the page when they could be much more effective near the top. And don’t forget that you can add Apps, such as WordPress to share your latest blog posts and Slideshare, into your profile to enrich the content.

4. Recommended by a friend?

Yes, it’s tempting, especially if you’re just starting out to get recommendations from your mates or ex-work colleagues, but it’s customers and clients that you really need, so don’t be afraid to ask. Try to have at least three recommendations on your page – there’s real strength in numbers.

5. Have you optimised lately?

It’s easy to forget that your LinkedIn page will behave in exactly the same way as any other web page. So make sure you include the most relevant keywords that your audience would use to search for your type of business – if used effectively within your Summary and Specialities sections, your LinkedIn profile page will start to show in search results. To prove the point, LinkedIn is one of the highest referring sites to my own website.

6. Customise your web links

You can add up to three website links, so your website and blog are absolutely essential to include. But make sure that the links are keyword-rich to help improve your ranking search results and achieve greater visibility.

7. Make sure you’re using joined-up thinking!

You’re probably using other social media for your business – so whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or blogging or all of them – make sure everything is visible on your profile page. One word of warning here – if you use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your social media, please make sure that you send the right messages to each site. Not all Twitter messages will look great in your LinkedIn status updates!

8. Claim your LinkedIn personal profile URL

Your LinkedIn profile includes a link called Public Profile. Mine, for instance is Unless you go in and edit this URL, you’ll have something fairly meaningless that contains numbers to differentiate you from any other LinkedIn user who shares your name. So check yours and try and make it personal to you.

Have you made changes to your LinkedIn profile page and had positive results? Let me know what’s worked best for you. Happy LinkedIn networking!