Accounting professionals like you need a strong LinkedIn profile. Maybe you are job hunting, looking to generate leads for your accounting practice or simply eager to grow your network and your professional credibility. Whatever your professional goals for the coming year, hitting them will be facilitated if you’re doing the things on LinkedIn that produce results.
So what are 5 things you can action today to strengthen your LinkedIn presence?
- Stand out from the crowd with a winning LinkedIn headline
- Woo your target audience with an engaging LinkedIn summary
- Make sure you’re appearing in relevant LinkedIn searches
- Grow your LinkedIn network and be visible and engaging
- Add professional recommendations to your LinkedIn profile
1. Stand out from the crowd with a winning LinkedIn headline
Here’s a question for you – what information do people see about you on LinkedIn more than anything else? What has more power to influence whether people are interested in you than anything else? This is clearly something you’d want to pay particular attention to.
The answer is your combination of name, photo and headline. Whether people are seeing you on their homepage, or appearing in search results or active in LinkedIn groups – the information that LinkedIn presents about you is this trio of name, photo and headline.
Well you’re stuck with your name – and hopefully you’ve already taken care of having a professional business photo on your profile? So that leaves us with the headline. Now as a little experiment, head on over to your own LinkedIn homepage. Try scrolling down the last twenty updates and seeing if you can tell what people do – or why you should be interested in contacting them – purely from what you see in their headline. I’d guess you’ll only find two or three people where that’s genuinely the case.
People often put their job titles here and that’s usually a mistake. “Manager at Gibson James” or “Partner at Fleming Johnson” gives me no indication of what you do or why I should want to contact you. In fact, I don’t even know you work in accounting! Compare these with “Audit Manager specialising in the SME market” or “Tax Partner helping companies in the renewables and environmental sectors”. Whether someone is a potential client seeing that information, or a recruiter looking to make their next hire, more insightful headlines make it far more likely that relevant people will click through to read your full profile. So invest time working on yours.
2. Woo your target audience with an engaging LinkedIn summary
I highly recommend having a read of 3 brilliant LinkedIn summaries that will inspire you to update yours. In it the author rightly stresses the importance of your LinkedIn summary in creating a strong first impression about yourself and wooing your target audience from the moment they arrive on your profile.
In the above post it’s recommended that you 1) ensure your personality shines through, as people are much more likely to reach out to you if they warm to you first. Plus your summary is the ideal place for you to gently make people aware of what it is you can offer them.
For maximum results you’re also advised to 2) write an irresistible opening line that makes people want to carry on reading. Then 3) connect the dots of your past experience so people understand your professional journey and why that makes you outstanding at what you now do and offer.
Invest time in your summary and the people who are enticed to look at your profile will then be increasingly likely to reach out to you to engage your services or to try and tempt you with a job offer.
3. Make sure you’re appearing in relevant LinkedIn searches
If a recruiter is searching on LinkedIn to hire someone for your dream role, what skills and keywords are they likely to use in their search? Have you given this some thought? These need to appear on your profile or you’ll simply never show up in relevant search results. It’s a similar idea when it comes to being found by potential clients. If someone is looking to engage an accountant with your specialist skills, what are all the things they might search for? What variants are there of the services you provide? What specialist topics might they be seeking help with? Making sure you have all of these covered in your profile is how you drive up the number of times that you appear in prospective clients’ search results.
4. Grow your LinkedIn network and be visible and engaging
Your LinkedIn success is in no small part a function of how much you are seen by relevant people on LinkedIn. Often I find that accounting professionals haven’t been the most diligent over the years at connecting with everyone they’ve done business with, met at conferences, worked with as a former colleague, etc. So a quick win on LinkedIn is certainly to have the site check your address book for people you know but are not yet connected to.
Having a big network of relevant contacts isn’t enough though. Those contacts need to regularly see you on LinkedIn so that you are always on their radar and always front of mind for any opportunities that may come their way. There are two keys to achieving this. The first is to ensure that you are regularly and consistently sharing quality content with your LinkedIn network. Buffer and Feedly are a combination of tools that will help you to achieve this without eating up hours of your time each week – and can also help you to maintain a presence in relevant LinkedIn groups too.
But did you know that LinkedIn also prioritises what your network sees on their homepage, according to how interesting and engaging people in their network are? Users whose posts are regularly commented on, liked and reshared are deemed to be high value members whose content will be shown more frequently to other LinkedIn users. So the other key to being visible on LinkedIn is to take a few moments each day to interact with other people’s posts on LinkedIn, thereby increasing the likelihood that they reciprocate and give your updates the interactions they need to be featured on your connections’ homepages.
5. Add professional recommendations to your LinkedIn profile
Last but not least – and particularly relevant for anyone providing a professional service – is the need to prioritise getting some great recommendations written about you and featured on your LinkedIn profile. Your own claims of how great an expert you are are nowhere near as compelling as testimonials from others who’ve benefitted from that expertise themselves. So do bite the bullet and reach out to people for this assistance, chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how willing they are to help – and your profile will be all the richer and more persuasive for it.
Tony Restell is the Founder of social media agency Social-Hire.com and helps businesses and businesspeople figure out how to leverage social media for maximum results. Tony is a published author and a guest lecturer at business schools across Europe.