I’ve been advocating Linkedin as a key online networking opportunity for accountants and other busy professionals for a few years now. There’s a series of posts on this blog explaining how to benefit from using LinkedIn.
I’ve realised something important was missing though: A post containing my tips and advice for someone who would benefit from enhancing their profile to make it work for them. This is all simple stuff and doesn’t involve adding any apps or doing anything new.
You can edit your profile at any stage. Go the ‘Profile’ tab – top left of the Linkedin screen. The first drop down option allows you to edit each and every section of your profile as often as you feel the need.
Simply click the links marked ‘Add’ or ‘edit’ and make whatever changes you choose. To ensure your profile has maximum professional impact I would suggest that you ensure that your profile:
• Includes a headline title, after your name, that describes your role and approach rather than simply repeats the title on your business card; and makes clear you operate in the ‘accounting’ industry. The only reason to choose a different industry would be if you were, for example, exclusively a specialist accountant or tax adviser for, say,the computer games industry.
• Displays your full name
• Includes a professional type photo in which you are recognisable so that someone meeting you in real life will already ‘know’ you from your photo and online interactions
• References your current role at your firm and indicates that it is an accountancy business
• Contains descriptive Website links that point to your firm’s website and to any specific landing page or blog you want to highlight. In each case, choose the ‘Other’ option (rather than the generic ‘Company website’) and then describe the link. This makes the nature of the links more obvious. For example, rather than ‘Business Website’ my three links are set up as:
o Other – Mark’s personal website and blog – http://www.BookMarkLee.co.uk
o Other – Tax Advice Network – http://www.TaxAdviceNetwork.co.uk
o Other – Referrals from Accountants – http://www.ReferralsFromAccountants.co.uk
• Has a personalised ‘public profile’ URL link rather than one that ends with a load of superfluous numbers (as is automatically generated by Linkedin). A personalised, tidy link makes you look more professional and enables you to reference the link more easily on your business card, website and in articles etc. When you edit your public profile link you are given a list of options on the right hand side of the screen. Unless you have a good reason for wanting to keep part of your profile hidden from the search engines and from people looking for you, I recommend you make every element of your profile visible to everyone. But you can choose to keep parts of it hidden if you want to do so.
• Makes clear you are an approachable, experienced and fully rounded person in the ‘Summary‘ area. This should be written in the first person and also reference your current role and responsibilities. However, this is NOT the place to promote your firm. That’s best done on the firm’s own separate and distinct Linkedin Business page.
• Includes all of your skills and expertise. If you want to be found easily when someone searches Linkedin for an accountant with your specialist experience, ensure that the words and phrases you use here are those that people might search for.
• Includes in the ‘Experience’ section the same name of your firm as your colleagues are using so that you are all linked to the same firm! (It is up to you how much of your personal job history you include on your profile. Do keep it honest).
• Includes your business email address in preference to a personal, gmail or hotmail address. The latter are more common for job hunters than for serious professional advisers. LinkedIn does not display your e-mail addresses to the public, only to your direct connections. You can also set tings up so that Linkedin emails you at a personal address even if your business address shows on your profile.
KEY TIP for your Linkedin profile
This is a key tip if you want to benefit from SEO withhin Linkedin when users are looking for someone like you: Ensure you include your key words (eg: accountant and tax) in the five key elements of your profile:
- Current work experience
- Past work experience
Think about what terms and words people might be using to search for an accountant like you. The more often you include these in those five elements of your profile, the easier it will be for you to be found – which is the main idea (especially if you’re not planning on using Linkedin actively).
There are other things you can do to enhance your profile on Linkedin but the above list is a pretty basic minimum and quite easy to do.
Your public profile
Your Linkedin profile will also appear in the search results when someone is looking for you on Google or Bing etc. And often your profile will appear higher up the search results page than your website – especially if the latter is focused on your buinsss rather than on the person who the user was searching for.
Compare and be inspired
Check out the Linkedin profiles of other accountants like you who have plenty of direct connections. Avoid copying the approach of naive newer users of Linkedin and especially of those with few connections (eg: less than 500). Instead check out what the more successful and active accountants on Linkedin are doing. One place to find loads of switched on accountants is the ‘Ambitious Accountants – UK‘ group on Linkedin.