LinkedIn tips for solo entrepreneurs and small business owners
Editor’s note: this is part 2 of this series, part 1 is available here: “10-minute Tips to Improve Your LinkedIn Business Game”
In the first article in this series, I highlighted the value of LinkedIn for solo entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized business owners. I shared why investing time into LinkedIn as part of your social media marketing strategy has the potential to help boost your business visibility and lay the groundwork for business growth.
In the previous article I pointed out that for some people LinkedIn can be a primary actor in a social media game and for others, LinkedIn will play more of a supporting role, but for almost everyone in business, LinkedIn has a role to play. The purpose of these articles is to demonstrate how an investment of as little as 10 of time can start to improve your business reach.
Build a Credible Presence
As an entrepreneur, it can be very useful to build a credible, visible presence that among other things shows up easily in a Google search. If you are familiar with LinkedIn you know there are several very basic steps you take to build your profile. Unfortunately, all too often people don’t take the time to implement best practices when it comes to building a public presence on LinkedIn. Whether you are an experienced LinkedIn user or new to LinkedIn, knowing the “layers” in the process of building, reviewing, and improving your LinkedIn presence.
Here are three core best practices:
- Basic Level – An up-to-date headshot, headline, custom URL, completed experience, education and skills sections
- Second Level – A brand relevant background image, a relevant informative “About” section, a simple audio message, and a few recommendations
- Third level – Pinning content to your “Featured” section, adding a “Providing Services’ page and a “Company Page” and adding your personal cover video.
There are many more layers to LinkedIn, but these are great basic of building blocks.
To build a credible LinkedIn presence that attracts and then keeps people interested, you need to consider how you are showcasing both your personal and your business brand.
In an earlier post in this series, I focused on creating a ‘Providing Services’ page, a step in showing up on LinkedIn’s “Services Marketplace”. In that article, I mentioned that LinkedIn is looking to establish their Services Marketplace and become the Amazon of business services. Adding the “Providing Service” feature to your LinkedIn profile is a way to enter into the marketplace. Once you add this option, you want to make sure that if potential customers land on your page, they stick around.
In today’s article, I am heading to the top of the LinkedIn profile and discussing 10-minute tips that cover a core element of your LinkedIn game, elements of your LinkedIn first impression.
10-minute tips to improving your LinkedIn First Impressions
LinkedIn Headshots – Your Photo and Cover Videos
Many things matter on LinkedIn, but your image, as showcased in your headshot, is one of the biggest predictors of how you will be perceived. Not only is the headshot key real-estate for making a positive first impression, the headshot remains the most visible representation of you and your brand across LinkedIn.
Did you know that as of 2021 your LinkedIn Headshot has 2 features? Feature one, a classic, static “headshot” and feature two, your video headshot.
LinkedIn works as a tool for helping you be found and make an initial impression and as a tool for building and sustaining ongoing relationships. Most people on LinkedIn know they should have a headshot but not everyone puts considered effort into their headshot.
Clients often tell me they don’t “take” a good picture or they don’t have access to a photographer. A key element to a good headshot is not that it is perfect and makes you look attractive; the key element is that your headshot showcases the impression you want to make.
No headshot is perfect and you don’t have to be a traditionally attractive person to produce a good headshot. Your headshot should look like you today and should not be altered by filters that change the structure of your face. You can use filters that enhance lighting and remove temporary blemishes.
I am sharing 2 photos below that required an investment of only 10 minutes of my time. To capture these images I used my laptop camera. I stood about 3 feet away from a wall in my house and 2-3 feet away from the camera. Standing too close to an object, especially a wall, will make your headshot look more like a mug shot.
After I snapped a few photos I used a free tool called pfpmaker.com to crop and add new backgrounds.
I am not suggesting that these are perfect images. The bottom image does not have great lighting. I just want to showcase that for a small investment of time you can improve your headshot.
You can have a little fun with your headshot as long as you don’t stray too far from professional. LinkedIn is still a professional social network. If you are an author you can pose by holding your book, if you love nature perhaps your headshot includes trees in the background or if you are a financial analyst you may want to wear a suit and tie, or maybe not! Don’t feel limited by a traditional pose, clothing, or location. You can take a picture at the top of a mountain if you want to portray yourself as an adventurer. Know yourself and your audience.
Key elements of a good profile picture
The structure of a good headshot includes location and setting, angles, colors, lighting, and your expression. You can take a good picture with your laptop camera or smartphone, indoors or outside. There are also more services that provide a service to capture your headshot virtually then touch it up for you.
A well lite face, ideally from natural lighting set behind the camera and in front of your face is important. You may consider purchasing a 10-inch ring, which is also useful for video calls and presentations and can cost as little as $50.
With a little practice, you will find your best angles, research indicates that showing a defined jawline, a slight smile with your teeth showing, and looking towards the camera, but not necessarily square to the camera, are key elements of a good headshot.
For quick insights into how others may perceive your headshot you can upload it to a tool such as Photofeeler.com for some anonymous feedback.
LinkedIn Cover Video “Headshot”
The second element of a LinkedIn headshot is the option to include a 30-second video. This appears in the exact same location as your headshot. When you have added a video it will appear for 3 seconds where your headshot is located, then disappear unless clicked on by a visitor.
On my profile, you will find a standard 30-second “talking head” headshot taken by my smartphone. My cover story required less than a 10-minute investment of my time.
There are a multitude of ways to design this video introduction and you are not limited to the “talking head” approach.
Before you begin consider your goals, think about who you are talking to and why. Write a brief script or just an outline of a script, practice a couple of times (but not too much you don’t want sound robotic), find the right location (with great natural light) and record away.
If you have more time to invest than 10 minutes you can shoot a few takes and create more of a production video with music and other images (you don’t even need to include your own talking head). You could narrate a video that showcases your services or products, describing your business services or you could use a tool such as Powtoons.com or Canva.com to create a mini-commercial. One of my colleagues uses this space to showcase his music and never shows his ‘talking head’.
Currently, you are limited to uploading the video from the LinkedIn app on your smartphone. This may mean if you produce and edit the video outside of your smartphone you will need to copy the video to your phone and then upload it to LinkedIn.
Each of these tips in this series of articles is designed to help a busy entrepreneur takes steps towards improving your LinkedIn game. Sometimes quick, incremental changes that are well-considered and intentional can have a positive impact on your life and your business.
LinkedIn is always changing so I will be back with more tips in the coming weeks.