A wise friend once told me: “It’s not who you know. It’s not even what you know. It’s who knows what you know.” Those are professional words to live by, especially for those of us making our living as consultants and freelancers. In this post, I’ll discuss LinkedIn for consultants and offer six tips to make sure you are top of mind when your contacts need someone with your talents.
Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn was created specifically for businesspeople as a forum for sharing ideas, generating leads and finding top talent.
According to the latest statistics, LinkedIn has 500 million users, with two more being added every second.
Not only that, but a whopping 40 percent are estimated to be active on the platform every single day. This means LinkedIn for consultants is especially true, as it’s the ideal place to make sure the people in your network know exactly what you can do for them.
LinkedIn for consultants
How do you maximize LinkedIn for consultants? Here are six steps that can consultants can take to help generate leads and build a positive reputation for yourself and your business.
Review your headline.
Take the time to tell your story.
Show (don’t tell) that you have chops.
Take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing.
Dig into LinkedIn groups.
Share your good news.
Read on to learn more about maximizing LinkedIn for your consulting business.
1. Review your headline
In addition to the basics — like making sure you have a professional photo and have filled out all the information fields — pay special attention to the first words under your name. This is what most people will see in a search result, even if they don’t click through to your profile.
The default setting on LinkedIn will show your job title. But titles can be vague, especially when you’re looking at LinkedIn for consultants. In as few words as possible, describe your value proposition to those in your industry.
If you’re a management consultant, for example, spell out your role. Do you help companies develop a long-term business strategy? Or do you advise them on implementing operating efficiencies?
If you get stuck, this Hubspot post has some more tips and examples of good headlines.
2. Take the time to tell your story
Now that you’ve fine-tuned your headline, review the summary underneath. Here’s your chance to tell your own professional story and give people an idea of what it’s like to work with you.
Your summary can be multiple paragraphs, but you really need to focus on the first 35 words, which is what people will see unless they click the “see more” button, says Susan Kostal, a legal affairs PR, marketing and business development consultant.
“This means you have just three lines of copy to convince someone to click through to learn more about you … from you, in a first-person voice that invites engagement and sets you apart,” Susan says in this blog post.
Once you have the intro, use the rest of the space to fill in some details about your professional journey and highlight major job accomplishments.
“If you have any articles, SlideShares, or blog posts you’re proud of, upload them as media,” says Melissa Williams, a content marketing specialist at Yesware. Her blog post also provides more tips for making your summary sing.
3. Show (don’t tell) that you have chops
By sharing content — either by uploading your own content to your profile summary or reposting someone else’s content to your followers — you’re demonstrating the kind of value you bring as a consultant.
This is 1,000 times more powerful than simply telling someone that you’re an expert in your field. While people expect some level of professional bragging, LinkedIn for consultants means refraining from hyperbole.
The best way to build credibility as a consultant is to show, rather than tell, what you can do.
4. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing
If you don’t have any of your own content yet, take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing, which lets you write and post your own articles. Choose subjects that will be of interest to your audience and that will position you as a thought leader.
Or, consider using the publishing platform to repost articles from your website, says Michelle Messenger Garrett, a writer and PR consultant.
“Posting on LinkedIn Publishing gives you exposure to a different audience. And, you squeeze more juice out of your content,” she says in this blog post on making the most of LinkedIn.
Don’t forget to include a photo or other image when you upload.
5. Dig into LinkedIn groups
Another way to build credibility within your network is to use LinkedIn groups.
“Are there groups that would find your content interesting? Join them and share some of your pieces. You can even start your own group and invite others to join it,” Michelle says.
Seeking out these groups will also ensure that you’re up on the latest news and trends in your industry.
LinkedIn is a social network. Don’t forget the social part. Use the platform to broadcast your own content, but also use it to engage with your colleagues. By all means, like, comment on and share posts that you find important or interesting.
Not only will you build goodwill with the authors, but the posts you have liked and shared will show up on your own profile page.
6. Share your good news
In addition to sharing your blog posts and engaging with people in your network, don’t forget to use the platform to let your network know the good things you’re up to.
Awards, speaking engagements or a positive volunteer experience can all make for good LinkedIn announcements.
Connect with LinkedIn
Now you’re ready to start using LinkedIn to build your brand as a consultant. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to refresh your social media strategy, I hope these LinkedIn tips for consultants will help drive the kind of new business you’re looking for.
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