Whether you’re actively looking for work, exploring your options, or want to be ready in case the perfect opportunity comes along, LinkedIn is a valuable resource for landing a new gig.
However, as a sales rep, you’re probably using your profile to find and engage prospects more than impressing recruiters and potential employers.
Keeping your skills fresh and your accomplishments front and center is a good habit to maintain, but treating your profile as a virtual resume won’t do you any favors when it comes to closing deals.
Buyers want to see thought leadership, insights, information that helps them arrive at an informed decision. In this article, I’ll share some tips you can use to take your LinkedIn profile from bland resume to valuable resource.
First things first, polish up your LinkedIn profile
Social selling success starts with first impressions.
After all, LinkedIn is a “professional” social network, so you’ll want to make sure that you look the part before reaching out to potential prospects.
The first step toward creating a professional brand is completing your profile and making sure that it includes high-quality information that is both helpful and contextually-relevant to potential prospects.
With that in mind, you’ll want to start with the following elements:
Make sure your profile includes a recent, hi-res headshot that actually looks like you (LinkedIn policy prohibits users from misrepresenting their identity).
Avoid full-body shots, make eye contact with the camera and make sure the shot stays focuses on the “head-to-shoulders” zone. Additionally, choosing an image where you’re smiling can help you project warmth and positivity on arrival—thus making prospects feel good about connecting.
Title & Headline
The title is pretty straightforward: it should explain what company you work for and your role. My recommendation is to make sure this appears before your headline to avoid any potential confusion for visitors.
For whatever reason, LinkedIn users tend to misunderstand the purpose of the headline. Even among respected professionals, you see a lot of vague, clunky or just plain awkward headlines that don’t provide much insight into what this person is all about.
Your headline should include two key things: who you help and how. It should also include a power word, industry-specific keywords and a link to your company’s website. Essentially, it functions much like a headline you’d see on an article or landing page.
Here’s an example from sales expert Jeff Davis: “Author. Speaker. Consultant: Helping B2B Companies Optimize Revenue Growth by Aligning Marketing & Sales.”
See? He leads with the title, then describes who he helps (B2B companies) and how he helps them (by aligning marketing & sales to optimize revenue growth).
While it may seem counterintuitive, the purpose of your LinkedIn bio is to create a customer-centric narrative that makes buyers want to have a conversation with you.
It’s not a place to boast about that time you won those knives by outselling your peers or how you always dominate the leaderboard.
Instead, build on your headline and use this section to emphasize your role as a trusted resource by explaining who you help and how you get results in more detail.
You might mention clients you’ve worked with, how long you’ve been working in this field or even include a data point that gets straight to the point.
Your bio should also include industry-specific keywords that both highlight your expertise and ensure that your profile appears in the search results when prospects are looking for information you can provide.
Frame your accomplishments around the buyer
While the experience portion of your LinkedIn page might appear to be designed to function as a resume, you can use it as a personal branding asset by making a few easy tweaks.
Focus on emphasizing the results you’ve achieved for current and former clients and use language that makes it about how you’ve helped instead of what you’ve accomplished like sales expert Jill Konrath does on her profile. Notice how she frames her different skills around something she offers her audience.
For example, she uses “keynote speaker” to describe her interactive, engaging presentation style and includes several short clips that allow visitors to check it out for themselves.
The resulting effect is, visitors will immediately understand that you played a critical role in the process and may ask you to do the same for them.
Use social proof
According to a LinkedIn whitepaper, cold outreach can work against you, causing damage to both your personal reputation and your company’s.
The second step in turning your LinkedIn profile into a resource is using a combination of endorsements, connections, and proven results to start warming up leads upon arrival.
- Ask for endorsements. Tap your network for endorsements. Reach out to existing clients, colleagues and supervisors who can vouch for your excellent work, and if possible, ask if they can share stats to add more weight to their kind words. While I can’t speak to any endorsement-generating strategy here, sales expert, Deb Calvert’s profile features specific mentions of her book and workshops. You might try to create a similar effect by creating follow-up sequences after running demos, workshops or webinars to request feedback from participants.
- Connect with the right people. On LinkedIn, connecting with other users isn’t something you should do in bulk. Here, the general rule of thumb is to send a request after you’ve already had a meaningful interaction.
- Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Look at which groups your prospects, best customers and competitors are part of. Which ones do they actively participate in? Start by joining these groups first, then expand your search by using relevant keywords to identify industry groups that focus on topics and trends related to your niche. Here, your goal is two-fold: to keep up with trends & changing customer needs, and to establish yourself as a valuable resource in front of a larger audience.
Altogether, your profile should look professional, sound professional, and include social proof in the form of endorsements and connections.
These factors work together to prove to potential buyers that you’re not a spammer, a scammer, or completely clueless—you’re someone they can trust.
What to add to your profile page
This next step shifts the focus on turning your page into a mini resource library for prospects, clients, and people with some level of interest in your industry.
While most reps understand the importance of optimizing their profiles, connecting with the right people, and asking for recommendations, a lot of sellers get stuck when they hit this point.
Start with the Articles and Activity section, which features the collection of articles, updates, and interactions that make up your “main feed.” This is typically the first place buyers go when they check out your profile, and they expect to see answers to problems, unique insights or a unique perspective on industry trends.
Here, you’ll want to share a combination of original insights and content you’ve curated from other sources, including:
- Relevant blog posts from your marketing team. Sharing blog posts from the marketing team benefits sales and marketing alike. It helps extend the reach of those efforts and bring more qualified leads into the sales funnel, as buyers are more likely to click on content shared by individuals than brands. And, for reps, they’ll benefit from the steady stream of helpful information they can add to their feed.
- Content from other websites your audience might find useful. Curating content from other websites, be it an interesting article, data-driven industry report or another resource, provides value to your audience. Linking to external resources helps you demonstrate inside knowledge of the industry, while at the same time prioritizing “good information” over website traffic.
- Resources from prospects, customers & connections. Like blog posts or 3rd-party insights, resources from your network present another opportunity to share valuable information. This time, however, that also means you’ll get the added benefit of showing up on prospects’ radar because you’ve helped them promote their content.
- Company updates & announcements. From upcoming webinars and original research to feature releases and new product lines, your LinkedIn profile should also function as a resource for keeping your network looped into the latest happenings at your company.
- Poll your audience. Polling your audience is both a great way to engage your audience by asking a direct question (I mean, who can resist a poll?) and an opportunity to learn more about your audience. You can later use these insights to create research reports or identify new topics to include in your content strategy.
- Extend a helping hand to your network. LinkedIn recently added a new addition to their posting lineup: the opportunity to lend a helping hand amid the COVID pandemic. If you can offer coaching, referrals or share some other form of expertise for free, this presents an opportunity to build some goodwill with potential prospects and carve out a reputation as someone who is helpful and genuine.
Original content: optional, but worth looking into
While creating original content isn’t a requirement for social selling, reps have an opportunity to create even more value by sharing their own perspectives.
According to a joint survey by LinkedIn and Edelman, B2B thought leadership is on the rise: 55% of decision-makers say they use thought leadership as a tool for vetting organizations, while 47% of C-level executives say they’ve shared company contact details after reading a piece of content.
LinkedIn recommends that brands develop a thought leadership plan as an organization to avoid running into contradictions, inconsistencies and off-brand content before reps start sharing all over the internet.
Remember, social selling is a two-way street–meaning, it’s supposed to be social.
Keep up with your network, comment & react to posts, and promote their content and upcoming launches and (virtual) events.
Sales technology expert, Nancy Nardin offers a good example of getting this right, regularly commenting and liking on posts, as well as tagging others to share their achievements with her network.
The key thing to remember is “be human,” and follow the golden rule for sales reps: “if you don’t have anything valuable to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Promotional comments are just as obnoxious as a cold call or email. Instead, think of your LinkedIn profile as a tool for gathering insights about what buyers are interested in and an opportunity to share your knowledge about the space.
You might build on your engagement strategy by setting alerts (with a social listening tool or via Google alerts) for important sales triggers so that you don’t miss an opportunity to reach out at the right time.
For instance, you might set an alert that notifies you any time a prospect mentions a specific problem, announces a strategic new hire or secures a round of investor funding.
While social selling spans several channels from Twitter and YouTube to Quora, Reddit and even Pinterest, LinkedIn should be a top priority for any sales rep.
The platform is quickly morphing into the go-to resource for B2B buyers in every industry, which means your goal is to communicate “value” to buyers as soon as they arrive on your page. Bottom line: when your page reads like a resume, you miss the opportunity to prove your value way before prospecting and outreach start.
If you have any specific question about changing your LinkedIn profile “from a resume to a resource”, you have a unique chance to ask the person that coined the phrase: Brynne Tillman. Revenue Garage is hosting the premiere of their new series of interactive webinars with Brynne on October 6, where you can get direct answers to your questions.
Head to Revenue Garage, submit your questions, vote for other questions that you want to hear discussed, and watch the agenda change in real time.