The more conversations I have about social media the more I hear one phrase: LinkedIn is the best channel for businesses and business people.
Probably true. The site boasts 60 million users and is professional in nature because of its standard networking options and its growing event and Q&A tabs. But the popularity of that belief has led to a really common practice I call the ‘I tried it once page.’
Experienced LinkedIn users have seen this page time and again. The person has typed in one sentence about their job, connected to four people, has no picture and their last update was in April 2009.
I often mention this to friends/colleagues when I see it happen and they shrug their shoulders in indifference. After all, it just gets lost somewhere on that confounded Google Machine, right?
Wrong. I don’t want to nerd you to death with the power of LinkedIn from a 101-level search engine optimization standpoint, but here’s the summary: the average person’s Google popularity doesn’t stack up. Because of its content volume and around the clock user updates, LinkedIn is a non-stop indexing machine, forcing Google to pay it respect. And the business person aware of the Web 2.0 revolution understands that unless you work for an industry giant, your incomplete LinkedIn profile will still show up higher than your bio or contact information on your company’s ‘About Us’ page and, unless your name is John Smith, will often show up in the first five results for your name.
Why is that important? My people Google you. We do. Web friendly business people are everywhere and whenever we shake your hand, set up a call with you or receive your business card we go off and we Google you, verb style. That means we grab our laptop, iPhone or iPad and, when we have a second, we say, ‘Let’s see what this Jonathan Xxxy is all about… .’ And Google shows us what it finds, even if what it finds is a personal profile with an outdated bio and no value proposition around your company or what you do. Like a malfunctioning motel's neon light that says VACA Y, it's a bad sign.
A completed LinkedIn profile is taking care of your Google destiny, plain and simple. At Smart Business people constantly tell us about dumping money into search engine marketing (basically, paid SEO). But by simply getting your profile beyond 80 percent complete – that basically means a full bio, company listing, a few recommendations and things like that – and adding just enough contacts (at least 50) your suddenly a search friendly, Web savvy doer.
Go ahead, look up Mike Cottrill on Google (do it in a new tab. I’ll wait.) I’m constantly in competition with a musician, an author, a tennis writer and a teenager of questionable character for my name rights. But with the power of LinkedIn, I’m eternally found above the fold despite the fact that I’m far less interesting than any of those people (especially the kid of questionable character).
Many people think that there are too many social media sites out there and it’s hard to sort through them all. It can be. But completing a LinkedIn profile is the most accepted way to get on board and also one of the easiest. So if you’re thinking about doing it, make sure you complete it. If you start it and leave it incomplete, people will wonder if you understand what this whole Internet thingy is all about.
Next time: Does it make sense for my business to be on Twitter?
Mike Cottrill is the manager for online operations at Smart Business. His blog posts are based on common objections and questions business leaders have about adapting to social media and Web technology. You can follow him on Twitter @mrcottrill or connect with him on his LinkedIn page, mentioning this blog.