LinkedIn is probably the most powerful selling tool on the planet, yet many people still think of the professional network as just a place to throw your digital resume.
Consider this: In a recent survey of a hundred marketers and agency execs, over three-quarters of the respondents said that they check out an individual's LinkedIn profile before ever accepting a meeting request or responding to an unsolicited inbound inquiry.
That's more than 75 percent of contacts who are using your profile to help make their decision. The clients are checking you and your company out before they take their next step. So the question is: how well does your LinkedIn profile promote your company and your role within it?
Here are five important elements of your LinkedIn profile that you should focus on improving. If you are a company leader, you should insist that all of your employees take a similar approach -- for everyone's benefit.
Every LinkedIn profile needs a summary statement. Many folks simply jump into a listing of their current and previous roles. However, your summary statement should convey to potential clients and customers what kind of a person you are. Are you conscientious? Fun-loving? Dedicated? Hard-working? A problem-solver? A team player?
The summary should not be a regurgitation of everything you do or have done in your work history. Tell this future client why they should feel good about partnering with you and your company, and why the smart decision is to buy from you versus from someone else.
Additionally, remember to keep your summary brief -- two paragraphs maximum.
Make sure you have a good quality head and shoulder photo of yourself on your profile. The funny picture of you from Facebook with the silly hat won't cut it -- this is the business world.
Remember, you may end up meeting a potential client outside of his office for coffee. Make it easy for them to recognize you. A quality image will also help a client feel comfortable taking a meeting with you, as you'll be coming across as a professional.
Your contact info
I can't tell you how many people totally miss this simple, brainless step. Make it easy for the client to immediately reach out to you. Don't force them to go back and listen to your phone message or find your email. Here are two ways:
First, in your summary statement, finish it off with two or three lines on how to get in touch with you. List your name, your phone number (mobile or office -- which ever you feel comfortable with), and your work email address (not your personal email address). I have also included my Skype address and Twitter handle, but that's your call.
Don't force a potential client to have to search through your profile looking for a way to get a hold of you, or force them to use the LinkedIn message system, which can be a bit wonky.
Second, when you are completing your LinkedIn profile, there's an oft-missed section called "Advice for contacting [your name]." Be certain you have filled in this section. Here you can consider putting your personal email address and links to any other social media profiles that you deem appropriate.
When completed, you will now get a tab right below your picture on the top of your LinkedIn profile that reads "Contact Info." This drop-down box will contain the contact information you've provided.
Your company showcase
Every company has some type of standard "who we are and what we do" PowerPoint deck. Without getting too deep into this, post an abbreviated deck explaining what your company is all about on SlideShare, and import it onto your LinkedIn profile. If you have a video (animated or live action), that can be showcased on your profile as well.
This visual showcase will set the stage for your first meeting. Even if you can't get that first meeting, you will at least have had the opportunity to tell your story. It also dresses up your profile.
I don't know about you, but when I see someone's profile with plenty of glowing recommendations listed for each position he or she has had, I feel quite comfortable taking things to the next step and accepting that meeting or returning that phone call.
Put your best foot forward regarding your current company and it will make your selling efforts that much easier. If you're a company leader, you know that every one of your employees connects on a daily basis with clients and potential customers. Why not coordinate their messaging to help drive your business forward?
Oh yeah, and if you are a buyer: How well does your profile talk about your company, and why you're the perfect client?
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"LinkedIn" picture via Shutterstock.