Do you want to focus on promoting your business effectively in social media? Are you LinkedIn savvy, or is it a mystery to you? Social media can be an effective tool to promote your business, but you need to know how to reach your target audience…and not turn them off.

Marketing experts recommend using social networking (typically Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to reach potential and existing clients. Twitter and Facebook allow for business networking and promotion, but they’re also focused on entertainment. For example, I will share pictures of my unhealthy ice cream obsession on my personal Facebook profile, but I do not post about it on LinkedIn. 

Is LinkedIn Applicable to Business Owners?

It’s important to acknowledge that LinkedIn is not only for job seekers or companies looking for employees anymore. This is a common misconception.

Business owners can – and do – use it for connecting with potential clients, mentors and referral sources. However, to be successful at this, you need to know what (and what not) to do to make this happen.

Here are four tips to get started, or help you critique your current profile:

  1. Speak directly to your audience. Think about what you offer through your business. What are the features and benefits that will make people want to add you to their network, or send you a message to learn more about what you do? This article from The Balance explains how to incorporate features and benefits into your profile.
  2. Use keywords to help people find you. These are the words that people will type into the search bar of LinkedIn. Create a list of keywords related to your business, and use them throughout your profile. For example, I assist clients with resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. I intentionally use these terms in my headline, summary and experience sections.
  3. Sanity check your profile. I see many spelling mistakes or blatant grammar issues on social media. However, you can easily avoid them. I tell all of my clients not to directly input information to LinkedIn. Instead, I recommend creating sections in Microsoft Word, as well as printing and reviewing a hard copy of your draft. I also advocate for sharing the draft with another person to get their perspective, as well as asking them to check for errors.
  4. Focus on quality connections. On Twitter and Facebook, it is impressive to have lots of friends. This is not true to the same extent on LinkedIn; the platform does not display your exact number of connections once you pass 500. Grow your network by adding people you actually know. Resist the urge to reach out to people you do not know. The only time I deviate from this advice is when I use a personalized note to tell the potential contact specifically why I want to connect (e.g. I saw you present at a conference, and I was so impressed that I would like to refer a client to you).

If your goals for 2018 include growing your professional network and referral sources, an optimized LinkedIn profile should be part of your plan.

While time is precious for many entrepreneurs, I hope that you add either “create a LinkedIn profile” or “update my LinkedIn profile” to your to-do list sooner than later.