Should start-ups opt for a LinkedIn profile or a company page?

Does it make more sense to stick to a LinkedIn profile or create a company page for your start-up?

With more than 645 million members in 200+ countries and territories, LinkedIn is by far the world’s largest social media platform for professionals across the globe. So, if your organization’s goal is to reach out to high-potential employees or to showcase your brand and reach out to potential clients, LinkedIn is the place to be. Especially, if you’re looking for B2B opportunities, LinkedIn is probably the best bet around.

The type of engagement and results you can get through connecting and engaging with other like-minded professionals through your personal LinkedIn profile will be quite different from the engagement you can get through a company page. I’ve covered the various advantages of creating a company page in a separate blog post. Do check it out. But first, let’s get done with whether it makes more sense to make do with a LinkedIn profile or to create a company page, especially for start-ups.

A lot of start-ups/small-sized organizations create a LinkedIn profile instead of a company page to represent their brand on LinkedIn. It must be remembered that LinkedIn profiles are for individual members, and company pages are for organizations, institutions, or brands. In fact, it is against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions to create a LinkedIn profile to represent a company or an institution. In other words, a LinkedIn profile should always represent a person and NOT a company or institution. But do also note that you can create a company page only if you have a personal LinkedIn profile.

Start off with networking using a personal profile

If you’re just starting off on LinkedIn, it is always advisable to create a personal profile and begin networking with like-minded professionals or your target audience. An easy way to begin is to connect with your family, friends, colleagues, and classmates. Always remember to include an introductory note if you’re sending a connection request to someone who might not know you. That said, building your network of connections on LinkedIn is much easier than creating a base of followers for your company page on LinkedIn.

Once you have a good number of connections and understand LinkedIn well, you can explore creating a company page, especially if you’re looking to do paid promotions to enhance the reach of your brand on LinkedIn.

Creating a company page on LinkedIn

So, how do you create a company page on LinkedIn? It’s simple! Click on the “Work” icon on the top right corner of your LinkedIn homepage and then click on “Create a company page” to create your company page. More guidelines on creating a company page on LinkedIn can be found here on LinkedIn’s Help Center.

Do read this blog post to understand the benefits of creating a company page on LinkedIn that cannot be availed using a personal profile.

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3 simple steps to multiply the impact of your LinkedIn profile

Do you know what is the most popular activity on LinkedIn? Yes, it’s viewing profiles! The fact that a huge number of recruiters are on LinkedIn and that they view dozens if not hundreds of profiles each day might be tilting the scales in favor of this metric. Nevertheless, this makes keeping your profile updated all the more important.

In this post, we’ll be covering three simple steps that will help you multiply the impact of your LinkedIn profile.

1. Add a photo to get noticed: LinkedIn says that profiles with photos get up to 21 times more views. Remember to add a professional close-up photograph that makes you easily recognizable.

Power tip: Search for profiles using any relevant keyword, click on “People” on the filters drop-down. View the photos accompanying profiles in your search results to understand how your profile photo will appear in search results. Will it stand out? If not, add a more relevant picture. LinkedIn provides some useful guidelines for adding the right photo to your profile.

2. Add a positioning statement: Refer to the power tip above. What do you see in the search results? Names, designations, and profile photos. You know what? You can simple add a positioning statement to your profile header. Just click on view profile on your LinkedIn profile and then click on the edit icon. Then, add a positioning statement alongside your designation. For example, “Senior Manager – Customer Care | Delivering enhanced value to our valuable customers.” This Hubspot blogpost has some very good examples and guidelines to help you write a very effective headline.

Remember that this positioning statement will help to draw more prospects and customers to your profile, help them understand your role and responsibilities at one glance, and make your profile stand out in search results. The snapshot below presents a good positioning statement.

This is a good example wherein a recruiter can use an image to add branding value.

3. Add a powerful background image: This is one aspect a lot of people miss out on. Anytime someone visits your LinkedIn profile, what they see at first is your photograph, your designation (plus your positioning statement as mentioned above), AND the background image. More often than not, users leave this blank, which then leads to the default LinkedIn image being showcased. Remember that the background image presents a very good opportunity to make a quick and lasting impression on the viewer thereby giving them more reason to read on further details on your profile.

The background image here gives a very good overview of how Don works at an important intersection of scholarly communication.

The examples I’ve showcased above are simply indicative of the potential of strong header images for making positioning statements. You can even choose to communicate certain aspects of your role or company using this background image.

Once you have completed these three simple steps, just begin engaging with updates and watch your profiles views shoot up! 🙂 Share your views through the comments section below.

How to improve your Social Selling Index on LinkedIn – Part 4

This is the concluding part of this series that focuses on building relationships. This parameter primarily revolves around strengthening your network by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers. Personally, I feel this is among the most critical parameters for sales personnel looking to have a strong impact on LinkedIn.

As per a LinkedIn survey, 73% of B2B buyers prefer sales professionals who have been referred by someone they know. In addition, they found out that buying decisions now typically include more than five decision makers. Hence, establishing strong relationships with different prospects is of utmost importance.

SSI 4

Now, your SSI score component under this parameter of building relationships is based on the following four aspects.

  1. Connect with contacts: It is obvious that a larger network will give you greater leverage in finding new prospects and getting your foot in the door with potential clients. Hence, never underestimate the power of constantly developing your network. You just need to remember that a good, strong network cannot be built overnight. Make it a point to spend a few minutes everyday in building and extending your network. Send out personalized invitations to prospects in the industry. You never know which contact might help you get your next big order. Some users hesitate to connect with people they don’t know personally or whom they haven’t met at least once. However, this approach greatly limits your networking capability on LinkedIn. Hence, I would recommend being open about connecting with new people based on their profile credentials.
    Power tip: Connecting with those who have a huge number of direct connections gives this parameter a huge boost because it almost instantly increases your third-degree connection base exponentially.
  2. Focus on decision makers: The key is to establish strong relationships with decision makers at the prospective or target company/institution. Getting through to senior decision makers is not always easy. Also, not all of them might be active on LinkedIn. So, it’s always better to target multiple senior personnel and decision makers to increase your chances of success.
  3. Connect internally and leverage TeamLink: It’s surprising that at times, employees within a company/institution are not connected with each other. Each person has his/her own unique network and connections. Hence, connecting with as many colleagues as possible helps you increase the depth and reach of your network with minimal effort. You might not even need to write personalized notes for connecting with fellow employees. Also, do not forget to connect with the senior management in your company/institution.Power tip: If your organization has a big enough sales team and the stakes are high, it might make sense to go for the Sales Navigator Team package offered by LinkedIn. Once you go for a Sales Team package, you can use your company’s network to uncover the best way to get introduced with TeamLink. But until you feel the need for purchasing a Sales Team subscription, connecting internally with senior folks within your organization is the best bet!
  4. Nurture relationships over time to keep your services top of mind: A big mistake some people do is to not maintain a healthy relationship after the initial contact. Remember that LinkedIn is just a platform built to facilitate relationship building. It’s your responsibility to maintain regular contact and reach out periodically. Add value by providing relevant information and solutions to your prospects or client’s business problems. If nothing else, at least make it a point to like, share, or comment on updates shared by your prospects.

We’ve now covered all four aspects – establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships – comprising the primary parameters that determine your social selling index (SSI) score on LinkedIn. Note that this is especially important for those focusing on B2B sales since LinkedIn is arguably the most successful platform for generating B2B leads.

I would like to conclude with saying that it’s best to regularly spend time networking on LinkedIn so that you build a professional brand and strong network over time. Please do share you thoughts using the comments section below.

How to improve your Social Selling Index on LinkedIn – Part 3

In the third part of this series, we will be focusing on how to engage with insights to improve your social selling index (SSI) score on LinkedIn. The earlier two parts of this series can be accessed here and here.

The third parameter mentioned by LinkedIn for improving your SSI score is based on your ability to discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships on LinkedIn. Did you know that around 64% of B2B buyers report that they appreciate hearing from a sales person who provides knowledge or insight about their business? Which is why knowing how to engage with insights holds a lot of importance.

Linkedin SSI 3

The following pointers will help you ace your score on the engaging with insights parameter on LinkedIn.

  1. Share relevant resources to strengthen personal connections: Make it a point to post content that is relevant to your prospects. This can be in the form of industry news, trends, or updates from your own organization. Sharing and liking updates posted by others is also a great means of engagement. Make it a point to be on the lookout for insightful updates and sharing them. Show that you care about the successes of your prospects and tag them whenever you share an update relevant to them.
  2. Stay in the know with timely content: Remember to leverage industry data and news on LinkedIn to stay up to date. LinkedIn Pulse was earlier a separate platform, but it was merged into the main LinkedIn platform a few years ago. So, now any long form article published on LinkedIn actually goes on to Pulse. When searching for anything on LinkedIn, searching for “content” allows you to search for relevant content on LinkedIn that you can then share.
  3. Engage in discussion where your connections are: LinkedIn advises you to leave thoughtful, constructive comments on content posted by your prospects and to join LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are a great way to find people with similar interests. Search for groups, especially large groups with a significant number of members, to join and engage with prospects and like-minded people.

    Power tip: When you’re sharing an update, always remember to add your own bit. For example, you can add your thoughts on the update or explain why someone should read that update or article. It’s always preferable to add a comment as compared to simply liking an update. But there will be situations when you’d like to just bookmark an update or show some immediate engagement.

  4. Use relevant information when reaching out: Nothing can match an informed and personalized message. When reaching out to anyone, always customize messages using relevant information you have learned about the person on LinkedIn. A simple example is to always remember to add a personalized message when sending anyone a connection request – explain why you’d like to connect with that person. To be able to do this, it’s best to visit a profile and then click on “connect” to add a personalized message. This will significantly increase the chances of the prospect accepting your connection request.

Engaging with insights is a great way to ensure that you win over the attention of your prospects. The key point is to never use a mechanical approach when trying to engage with prospects. Always try to personalize any message you send out to your prospects. That little bit of extra effort will go a long way in multiplying your engagement.

How to improve your Social Selling Index on LinkedIn – Part 2

This is the second part in the series of posts on improving your SSI score on LinkedIn. The first post on “What can you do to establish your professional brand on LinkedIn” can be read here.

The second parameter mentioned by LinkedIn for improving your SSI score is based on your ability to find the right people. Hence, in this post, we will be elaborating on how you can improve your score on this parameter.

SSI 2

So, how can you go about finding the right people on LinkedIn? We’ve listed a few pointers below.

  • Use LinkedIn’s powerful search tool to zero in on the right decision makers: Now, LinkedIn earlier used to provide free unlimited profile searches to all users. But with time, they realized that certain recruiters and sales guys were finding loopholes in their system to search and download profiles. And all of this wasn’t paying off for LinkedIn. So, they have now limited search functionality for users unless you purchase a premium account. The search prowess of your account increases with each higher level of premium. You get more filters and greater reach with each higher level. Hence, if you’re really looking to leverage the power of LinkedIn and need to regularly search for various profiles, purchasing a premium account is indispensable. LinkedIn also recommends using Boolean search terms such as AND, OR, and NOT for your LinkedIn search.

Power tip: Remember, the key is to ensure that you keep oiling LinkedIn’s search engine on a regular basis. So, keep searching for relevant profiles in your industry and try to connect with them. That apart, one important aspect most people don’t realize is that even if you purchase a premium account, your search capability on LinkedIn is still limited to your third-degree network. The larger your third-degree network base, the broader your search will be. Hence, it is really important to connect with LinkedIn power users with large networks. Further details on this are available in a separate post on How to increase your LinkedIn network exponentially. Note that this limitation of search capabilities does not apply to recruiters who purchase a national/global recruiter license (which is very expensive by the way!). 

  • Leverage warm introductions to expand your network: You might be wanting to reach out to someone who is in your second-degree network but you’re not sure if you can reach out directly without making it sound really intrusive and salesy. LinkedIn makes it easy through their introductions feature. Check out how you’re connected to that person. Then, reach out to the common connection between both of you and request the person to introduce you to the prospect. This will help you transform the cold outreach into a warm introduction through a common acquaintance/colleague. Reminder: you might not be very excited about using this feature like several others, but if you do, LinkedIn views this as a sincere move to expand your network.
  • Research potential prospects: LinkedIn advises you to look for commonalities to establish a relationship. When checking a prospect’s LinkedIn profile, check out the LinkedIn groups they’re a part of. This information is available right at the bottom of the profile. Request to join any of these groups. Once you are a part of the group, that can serve as a common point of engagement to reach out to the prospect. Furthermore, the advantage that Sales Navigator provides you is that you can save prospects as leads, and you keep getting regular email alerts whenever any of your leads posts anything on LinkedIn so that you can get a trigger to reach out or engage with the prospect. The bottom-line is to ensure that you too join popular groups in your industry.
  • Take advantage of who’s viewed your profile: This feature of “Who’s viewed your profile” is a great source for driving engagement on LinkedIn. Always keep checking from time to time who has viewed your profile. This will help you get a flavor of who all are really taking interest in your posts or profile on LinkedIn. You’re only able to see a few profile viewers with the free account. If you take a premium account, you can get to see profile viewers for up to 90 days ago. Treat profile viewers as inbound leads and always make it a point to engage with them.

So, there you go! These four pointers are the primary aspects that determine the score for your ability to find the right people on LinkedIn. Keep watching this space for more information on how you can improve your sales profile and ultimately your SSI score on LinkedIn.

Do share your thoughts using the comments section below.

How to improve your Social Selling Index on LinkedIn – Part 1

In a previous post, I’d written about what social selling entails and how to find out your social selling score (SSI) on LinkedIn. In this series of posts, we’ll explain how you can improve your SSI score based on parameters defined by LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s SSI score is calculated on the basis of four parameters, namely, establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. It is important that you focus on improving each of these parameters to improve your SSI score. We’ll elaborate on “establishing your professional brand” in this post.

Professional brand

What can you do to establish your professional brand on LinkedIn? Read on for details.

  • Complete your profile: First and foremost, ensure that you complete your profile with the customer in mind. Remember to emphasize instances that illustrate how you’ve provided value to a client. Take care to complete every detail on your LinkedIn profile, including your profile picture, headline, summary, and experience. Pay special attention to your headline because that is what makes your profile stand apart from millions of others in your domain. To understand the importance of your profile headline, just search for people using any keyword on LinkedIn, and notice how you’ll tend to click on profiles that have self-explanatory headlines.
  • Add rich content to your summary: This aspect is one of the most underutilized items among LinkedIn’s profile page functionalities. Add content that can make you stand out as a thought leader. You can add an image, video, or a presentation to showcase examples of your work or your company’s specialties. You can also upload a deck outlining your company’s products and services on Slideshare and host it on your LinkedIn summary. 
  • Post and interact with content: Always keep in mind that the basic foundation of a strong content marketing strategy is nothing other than relevant and useful content. The key is to post relevant updates on a regular basis so that you’re perceived as a thought leader in your domain. Make it a point to spend some time to curate high-quality content that can be helpful for your target audience, and then, post updates summarizing that content and explaining the importance of why should someone read what you’ve posted. Merely sharing links might not get the kind of engagement you’re looking for. If you post high-quality and relevant content, the likelihood of your content being shared and liked increases several notches. 

Power Tip: Like I’ve mentioned in a separate post, LinkedIn’s algorithm tends to promote content with links to content on LinkedIn rather than that with links to content off LinkedIn. That apart, write long form articles on LinkedIn to share your personal experiences and industry insights. This can go a long way in establishing your brand value as a thought leader. The bottom-line here is that if you do things that please LinkedIn’s algorithm, you’ll see your score zoom up! 🙂

  • List skills & get endorsements: The “Skills” feature of LinkedIn is among the lesser used features, especially by industry leaders who don’t have time for these nitty-gritties. I’m not a great fan of this feature, but like I mentioned in the paragraph above, LinkedIn likes it if you engage with their platform the way they want you to!

    So, if you’re really serious about networking on LinkedIn, make it a point to add relevant skills to your profile. You can do this by clicking on “Add a new skill” in the “Skills & Endorsements” section. Once you add skills, your connections will view requests to endorse your skills from time to time. Make it a point to endorse the skills of your colleagues, friends, and acquaintances to expect favors in return. Now, this is a separate argument altogether as to how reliable these endorsements are. This situation has arisen from random endorsements by random people who haven’t even worked with you once. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to have figured out a way yet to address these concerns. That said, skills and endorsements remain a factor that can influence the aspect of “establishing your professional brand” on LinkedIn.

Now, all these pointers just constitute one of the factors, i.e., establishing your professional brand, that can influence your SSI score on LinkedIn. Keep watching this space for more details on how you can ace social selling on LinkedIn.

Also, don’t forget to share your thoughts through the comments section below.

Do you know your Social Selling Index on LinkedIn?

Do you know how well you’re placed to drive social selling via LinkedIn? Are you in a sales/marketing role with a need to extensively network on LinkedIn and are looking for some metric to measure your success? Or in other words, would you like to know how effective you’re on LinkedIn? There’s a simple answer. LinkedIn has devised what they call the Social Selling Index (SSI).

Essentially, as per LinkedIn, your Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. These four parameters are monitored and your SSI is updated on a daily basis. You can check your SSI score simply by clicking on this link (you’ll need to log in to LinkedIn to know your score).

 

Minhaj SSI Score

Although some experts are sceptical and feel that the SSI has been devised by LinkedIn simply to promote their Sales Navigator offering. More so because LinkedIn claims that Sales Navigator helps users in improving their SSI score by up to 20%. Which is why you’ll find some views asking users not to bother too much about it.

That said, the four parameters that lead up to the final SSI score for an individual are actually quite indicative and necessary to determine your social selling skills. This article on how important is the LinkedIn SSI score weighs the different aspects quite well.

The SSI score feature was launched sometime in 2014 and must have definitely seen several refinements already. But it’s quite intriguing that despite being around for some time, SSI hasn’t been so popular with LinkedIn users. In fact, a huge number of frequent LinkedIn users are completely unaware that something like SSI exists! I’m certain that with continual feedback, LinkedIn will continue refining the algorithm that determines the final SSI score.

So, what can you do to improve your SSI score? LinkedIn has clearly outlined details for each of the four abovementioned parameters. We will be covering this in detail in a separate blog post soon. Keep watching this space for more.

PS: My SSI score is 75. What is yours? Do you feel that the SSI score is truly reflective of networking capability for social selling? Share your feedback through the comments section below.