Most people neglect their LinkedIn profile until they need to look for a new job. That’s a big mistake and a massive missed opportunity. LinkedIn is a great marketing tool for every professional, whether you’re targeting new clients, building your personal brand, promoting your company – or all three.

Potential clients and future employers will expect you to have a well-written, up-to-date and active personal LinkedIn profile. A credible and engaging company page on LinkedIn is also important if you run your own business, or are responsible for your company’s online positioning and employer branding. This will ensure your firm is seen as a highly desirable place to work by talented potential employees.

LinkedIn can be a hugely positive networking, marketing and learning tool. To get you started, follow our six tips for LinkedIn marketing that goes beyond job hunting.

1: Ensure all your profiles are complete

Take the time to fill in as many sections as possible. Incomplete profiles not only look a bit lazy, they are unlikely to contain all the keywords you need for SEO purposes.

For your personal profile look at your education, professional training and development, as well as your current and previous roles. Don’t forget to include voluntary work, projects, non-executive directorships, professional interests and personal hobbies. Combining all these elements will help draw a complete picture of who you are and what you do.

LinkedIn recommends that you use all 2000 characters in your summary section. It gives you a much better chance of achieving a fully optimised, easily searchable profile that is accessible to all potential interested parties. Be sure to put the most important details about yourself, or your business, at the beginning of this section, so people won’t miss them.

Remember, LinkedIn is less formal than a CV. You can choose a style and tone of voice that best suits your audience.

If you have a company page, explain exactly what your company does, who your clients are and how you help them. You can then encourage all your employees to link to your company page, as well as optimising their own personal profiles.

2: Position yourself – and your business – as an industry expert

By using in-bound marketing and thought leadership techniques you can attract recruiters, potential clients or media enquiries. If you post articles you’ve written or share work samples and white papers, people will start to see you as an expert and come to you for professional advice, insight and commentary. Make it visual if you can, by posting infographics, videos and presentations – you can include these on personal and company pages.

Mutually beneficial professional relationships can be developed this way. We have many clients who have been quoted in the press or offered speaking engagements as a result of their LinkedIn presence – as well as being offered new jobs and contracts of course.

Joining groups (or setting up your own) will also help you gain credibility and expand your network as you participate in group discussions. Don’t forget, once you’re in a group, you can message any group member for free. Endorsements and recommendations will also boost your LinkedIn ranking and help build your professional reputation.

3: First impressions count…so make the right one

When a potential client or employer uses LinkedIn search, all they will see at first is your photo, name, headline and location. It is vital to make sure this is a good representation of how you want to be perceived. People like to engage with people, and a photo ensures you’re more visible. LinkedIn’s research shows that profiles with a photo are 11 times more likely to be viewed and updates with photos get five times as many shares.

A professional headshot of you in business dress and with a plain, non-distracting backdrop is a worthwhile investment. Holiday and party photos, cute puppies and your adorable children are great on Facebook or Instagram, but not LinkedIn.

Your professional headline is your advertising strapline. It should be a brief, powerful key-word rich snapshot of you in 120 characters. Think about your audience here. What are they looking for and what will pique their interest? You don’t want to miss out on opportunities because your headline and photo are off-putting or bland.

4: Optimise your profiles for LinkedIn’s search engine

Millions of people search LinkedIn. Use keywords to make your profiles more easily found by your target audience. Think about the words a potential client or employer might type when searching for someone like you. Posting regular updates will also help your profile’s SEO – this also applies to company pages.

I can personally vouch that this works. I post blogs and share articles on LinkedIn regularly and this activity attracts a huge proportion of my clients.

5: Be social, make connections

The more connections you have, the higher your ranking by LinkedIn’s algorithms. But it’s not just about numbers. It’s about being visible – for the right reasons. That means being helpful, sharing updates and commenting constructively. My philosophy here is, ‘You never know where a contact might lead.’

6: Use LinkedIn’s free tools to generate more leads

There is an overwhelming amount of content on LinkedIn. But you don’t have to spend all day scrolling through it. Get familiar with some of the time-saving tools provided free of charge by LinkedIn.

For example, the trending content can help you find the most relevant posts and give you an insight into what successful content looks like. While the content score tools will help you measure your company’s success.

LinkedIn is a hugely useful marketing tool. But it also changes and updates constantly. If you’re feeling excited but also overwhelmed by all the opportunities, then I’d recommend taking it slow. Do lots of preparation before uploading your profile or new content and be vigilant about keeping your personal brand relevant to your audience.

If you’d like more advice, or feel your personal or company LinkedIn presence needs an overhaul, then give us a call on 020 7100 6656. We’ll be happy to talk you through the next steps.