Recently, I received an email from LinkedIn proclaiming, “Congratulations! You are in the top 1% of viewed profiles on LinkedIn!” The natural analyst in me immediately began to think about the total number of members on LinkedIn (200 million).  I began to wonder about the probable percentage of them who actually use their account, let alone those who use it actively, and more so, those who it use proactively.

I happen to fall into that proactive category, and I think that is why I happen to be in this ‘elite’ (or so LinkedIn would like me to think) group of users. But whether I’m really in the 1 percent or not, plenty of young entrepreneurs can benefit from the key insights I picked up along the way to 1 percent status. Here are 8 simple, helpful tips on how to build your brand on the platform:

Have A Catchy Title
This does not include “role, company name”. Mine once read “Finding you the best fit for merchant services with no shady business at Equitable Payments.” This tag line has resulted in a lot of strangers reaching out to connect who relate to the woes of my industry and appreciate the candor and humor. In turn, I’ve won business.

Connect With People You Meet Within 24 Hours
If you meet someone at a networking event, a dinner party, or otherwise, connect with them (and connect with your friends, too). There may be no immediate synergy, but the beauty of LinkedIn is the connection to everyone’s network.

Don’t Make Your Contacts Private
You are going to want to look through your contacts’ contacts, as well as to reciprocate the favor. If you’d be willing to extend an introduction for them to a contact of yours, it’s fair game.  Don’t fear that someone is poaching your contacts. They aren’t.

Ask For An Introduction
An easy way to do that is to find a few people to whom you’d like an introduction. Send a message to your contact saying, “I was glancing through your contacts and wanted to ask if you’d be comfortable connecting me with the following people (Insert Names/Titles)? I’d be happy to write a short blurb you can use or edit to facilitate in making the introduction. I welcome you to do the same with my contacts. Thanks, in advance, for any help you can offer!.”

Join Relevant Groups & Participate In The Conversation
Don’t spam the groups but rather, engage with the members!

Have A Good Picture
It should be professional, although it doesn’t need to be stuffy. It should not be cropped out of a picture of you and other people. Get a head shot if you don’t have one.

Complete Your Profile
Update your past experience, summary, organizational involvement, education, and awards. You never know the benefits it could have as well as that it allows people who knew you in past roles to find you.

Get Recommended
Reach out to contacts with whom you’ve interacted in your current and past roles.  This is free advertising for you whether you’re seeking clients and can refer prospects to these references, or it can be great for possible employers to review.

Still think you don’t need to be on LinkedIn? Will you ever be looking for a new job? A new client? A new hire? I thought so — which means now’s the time to get your profile and network updated and activated.

Don’t wait until you need something. At that point, it’s too late.

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