What a tumultuous year it’s been! I don’t know about you, but as 2020 comes to a close, I’m looking forward to what the new year will bring.
With 2021 comes new opportunities to grow, not just personally but professionally. Here at NFICA, we’ve expanded our focus from just direct sellers to freelancers, independent contractors, and small business owners. We’ve also expanded our social media reach. Not only do we have accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn, but we’ve just added Instagram as well. If you’re not already following us on these platforms, go ahead and do so to get the latest updates on blog posts, industry news, and the newest benefits we’re offering.
Speaking of growing professionally, in this issue of the “Can-Do Quarterly,” we focus on how you can grow your business using LinkedIn. We talk to social media specialist Lachlan Kirkwood on how to market your services there, another piece on creating a LinkedIn profile if you’re new to the platform, and an article including best practices on reaching your audience on the B2B social media platform of choice for professionals.
If you’re not using LinkedIn, then this newsletter is the perfect way to help inspire you to start, just in time for the new year!
Ihope you and your family have a happy and healthy 2021. Here’s to new beginnings!
How to Create a LinkedIn Profile
Because LinkedIn is traditionally considered a business platform for B2B networking, it can be confusing for self-employed professionals to take advantage of its power as a marketing tool. Why is this important? Because it boosts the chances of increasing your website traffic, build credibility, and land a new customer or contract. Did you know that LinkedIn has more than 600 million users, 40% of which use it daily? However, to be successful on LinkedIn as a self-employed professional or independent contractor requires a compelling profile.
We're here to help! Let's start with the basics:
YOUR NAME:Use the name you are known by. For example, if your legal name is Robert, but you go by Bob, then that should be the name you use in your profile. Using nicknames like "Tooter" is not a good idea.
PROFILE PICTURE:Choose a headshot that is up-to-date, so you’re easily recognized should you meet someone in person. Did you know that profiles with professional headshots get 14x more profile views? Here are some image guidelines:
400x400, max file size 10 MB JPG, GIF, or PNG
If you can't afford a professional headshot, make sure your picture is well lit, wear solid colors, and show a warm, friendly expression. Don’t post any selfies or cropped group images.
HEADLINE/TAGLINE: This is the short statement that appears under your name that states who you are and what you do. Your headline is arguably the most critical part of your LinkedIn profile since it's the first thing people see in search results. You only get 120 characters, so make it count. Here's a great hint, though: if you update on your iPhone app instead of your desktop, you'll get 260 characters!
Start with your title. Keywords are important because when someone is looking to hire a "content writer" or "web developer," for example, they are not going to search for the words "self-employed" or "contractor." Next, include a short descriptor of your service or specialty and who you do it for. So your headline might read:
Web Developer — I create custom-designed websites for small business owners
It doesn't have to be one phrase. You can use vertical bars to separate ideas and be more specific. For example:
Web Developer — I create custom-designed websites for small business owners |Strategy and Execution|UX Design|Independent Professional|
SUMMARY: You have 2,000 characters to tell your story in your own words beyond just your job title. Let your personality show when you describe your professional history, qualifications, and goals. Remember to include keywords, but keep in mind the LinkedIn algorithm doesn't like keyword stuffing, so don't go overboard. Here is more information about keywords.
Some other tips about your summary:
Write in the first person using a conversational tone
Highlight your accomplishments
End with a call-to-action like directing readers to your website
Here are some great examples of personal profiles for inspiration. EXPERIENCE:LinkedIn will automatically list your experience in date order. This can be tricky for independent contractors, especially if you’re working on different projects simultaneously or you have multiple roles. Things to consider:
Give yourself a title that reflects the type of work you were/are doing, like "copy editor," "graphic designer," "web developer"
For your company name, add the word that you identify as, such as "independent professional," "consultant," or "freelancer"
Provide a summary of the services you performed and for whom
Highlight noteworthy skills or projects with bullet points
BACKGROUND PHOTO: This image sits behind your profile picture and is 1584 (w) x 396 (h) pixels. Did you know that LinkedIn profiles with graphics have 11 times the chance of getting viewed? So, using a unique background is a way to differentiate your profile. Using Canva to create a customized banner is an excellent place to start. Some pictures to consider are the tools of your trade, your product or service, your personal workspace, or even a solid color or abstract image.
ENDORSEMENTS: Securing an endorsement is akin to having a 5-star review on Google. These are your client testimonials. Uncomfortable as it is, you need to send a personal message to past or current clients, reminding them of the project you worked on and your accomplishments, and ask for a written endorsement. You need three for a complete profile.
SKILLS: Your skills serve as a visual summary of your expertise and specializations. Listing too many of them, however, is just as bad as not naming enough. Note as you add them that fifty is the maximum number of skills you can have on LinkedIn. Add your skills in order of relevance since only the top three show up on your profile. Consider both hard and soft skills. Here's a source to learn more.
PERSONALIZE YOUR URL: LinkedIn assigns you a URL that usually includes a string of numbers. Change it to your first and last name. If it's already taken, try using your last name and first name or include a middle initial. A personalized URL will make you easier to find.
Best Practices For Reaching Your Audiences On LinkedIn
Engaging your audience on LinkedIn is a lot like other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Creating compelling content, using high-quality images, and posting regularly are given tactics to help you reach and broaden your network. But what does that mean when it comes to the always-evolving B2B social media site with more than 722 million users.
Let’s get specific on how to apply these basic tips to LinkedIn.
1. Post valuable content
Posting content that provides value to your audience, whether it’s dispelling a common myth in your industry or engaging followers in a lively yet friendly online debate, helps position you as an expert in your field, making you more marketable to potential clients. Other types of content you can post are:
Educational presentations, .pdfs, and ebooks
Links to articles pertaining to your industry
High-quality videos, event invites, webinars, and training
Remember the 4-1-1 rule when you share content - for every piece of content you share about your brand, post an update from another source and four articles of content published by others. This helps keep your posts focused on your customers’ needs rather than continually promoting your brand.
TIP:Think of your post as more of a blog post or mini-article and take advantage of the 1300 characters
2. Tag others in your posts
Mentioning a connection or other LinkedIn member in your posts will notify them that you posted something of relevance without them having to scroll through their news feed. It’s a great way to thank a customer, acknowledge something a colleague has accomplished, or answer a question someone asked in an earlier post.
TIP: Don’t tag more than 1-2 people per post
3. Reply to comments
Hopefully, when you post content on LinkedIn, you’ll get a few comments from followers. Try to respond to each comment you get within a couple of hours to create more engagement and organic reach. Thank someone if they compliment your post, ask them a question, or respond to a question they asked to keep the conversation going. Commenting on other posts from your peers and clients will also help attract more attention to your profile. As with any social media, authentic engagement is more than just posting information, it’s interacting with your audience in an online conversation.
TIP: Comments like “ Great post” do not add value - add additional perspective
4. Post multiple photos at once
On LinkedIn, you have the ability to post up to six photos in one post. Each picture that gets a click from a follower lets LinkedIn know your post is engaging, which means it will be pushed to a broader audience. To use this feature successfully, however, your photos must have a theme. Ways you can really get your audience talking about your multiple-photo posts include:
Sharing photos from an industry event and tagging the people featured in each photo.
Telling a story with your pictures by pairing brief descriptions, quotes, or even made-up dialogue.
Posting photos of your favorite brands that inspired you in your career.
TIP: No stock photos
5. Use hashtags
Using hashtags in your posts will help them gain more visibility from the people you’re trying to reach if done correctly. Your hashtags should be relevant to your content, business, and industry. For instance, if you’re a freelancer, then work #freelancer into your post. LinkedIn suggests popular hashtags to use as you’re writing your post, which is helpful, so you’re not just making up random ones. You also have the option of following hashtags relevant to your industry, so you know what others are posting and how many of your peers follow them.
TIP: Between 3 and 9 hashtags recommended, and size matters
How to Market Your Services on LinkedIn
A Q&A with digital marketing
specialist Lachlan Kirkwood
LinkedIn is a powerful social media tool that was started as a way for business professionals to connect online and introduce them to new career opportunities.
Since its inception in 2002, the platform has evolved from a business networking tool to an online job search center, an education hub for employees to learn new business skills, and a marketplace for freelancers, independent contractors, small business owners and, direct sellers to attract and retain new clients.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter, marketing yourself and your business on LinkedIn can be a bit more challenging in its B2B environment than other social media platforms that are more B2C focused.
To help provide some answers, we reached out to Australian-based freelance digital marketing specialist Lachlan Kirkwood. As the founder of ClickThrough, an online platform connecting digital marketers with some of the world’s biggest brands—Lachlan has his finger on the pulse regarding what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the latest social media marketing trends.
NFICA: If you are a freelancer, independent contractor, or direct seller, what is the best way to market yourself on LinkedIn?
One of the most effective strategies for marketing yourself across LinkedIn is to consistently share valuable content. Whether it’s sharing insights or knowledge from your own experiences or even adding your thoughts to relevant news and updates within your industry, this allows you to inform and educate your audience. By sharing content that’s genuinely useful for your target customers, it helps build your position as a thought leader. This is one of the most effective ways to begin driving inbound requests for your product or services.
NFICA: Most people who are self-employed use a personal page on LinkedIn. What are the advantages of creating a business page, and is this even possible if you don't actually have a business name? Does it pay to create a business name under these circumstances, or does that just muddy the waters?
Although a branded LinkedIn page can create a professional image for an individual, I’ve personally found it can limit the relationship between a contractor and a customer. One of the greatest assets of being self-employed is the personalized experiences you create as an individual. By sharing content from your personal LinkedIn profile, others can relate to you as a person and build a genuine relationship.
NFICA: When setting up a profile as an independent contractor, what is the most important part of that profile, and what would be the best practices?
With LinkedIn’s recent feature updates, it’s more important than ever for independent contractors to utilize the “pinned” post section at the top of their profile. This space should be used to highlight tangible examples of the work you’ve created or case studies that share your projects and their outcomes.
NFICA: What does an independent contractor need to do differently when creating a LinkedIn profile than someone who has an employee?
As a contractor, it’s essential to highlight the specific services you currently offer. A traditional employee might mention they’re a digital marketer for company X, but a contractor will need to clearly share what specific digital marketing services they offer (SEO, SMM, or SEM), as well as some of the projects they’ve created under each core discipline. It’s also essential to actively begin connecting with target customers and fostering relationships with these decision-makers. Once they continually see the content you share across the platform, they’ll be familiar with your work and the value you offer.
NFICA:Do you think LinkedIn will ever cater more to B2C marketing for small business owners? What are some ways, if any, that small business owners can market themselves on LinkedIn?
Although LinkedIn has traditionally been used as a professional platform, I’m personally seeing a shift in the kind of content brands are publishing. Similar to Facebook, brands are now beginning to share behind-the-scenes content of the services or products they offer. This style of content is more authentic and relatable for everyday consumers.
If you’re a brand looking to harness the power of LinkedIn, I’d recommend experimenting with content that’s appealing to your customers’ personal interests, not just their work life. Don’t be afraid to share memes about your product or industry, or even witty jokes.
LinkedIn stories are also another valuable form of content that allows brands to connect with consumers in a unique, more personal way.
At NFICA, we offer benefits that you need as an independent contractor. These include life insurance at rates not available to the general public, discounts on business tools through BenefitHub and WorkingLive, competitive rates on Telemedicine, and health products that include critical illness, accident, and hospital indemnity insurance! See what we have to offer.