A lot of people I know list themselves on LinkedIn, but don’t really know how to leverage the power of it. That’s because they’re not really sure how to get a lot great connections and business leads without just simply “selling” themselves and asking for connections from people they want to connect with. Many people also end up needlessly spending money to upgrade their accounts, or going as far as advertising on LinkedIn.
There’s an easier, cheaper way: rise to the top of LinkedIn’s search. I haven’t upgraded my account and haven’t spent a dime, but I’ve been able to position myself at the top of several LinkedIn “People” searches, which is the first search option on the site.
It has been extremely valuable for me to secure the top search position in my areas of expertise. There are three areas in which I coach and advise companies: creativity, design thinking, lean thinking, and innovation. Log on to LinkedIn, type “creativity” in the search box (make sure you’ve selected the top choice, the “People” category), you’ll see that I hold a top spot, out of over 350,000 results. Then type in “design thinking,” and you’ll see the same thing. Likewise for “lean thinking.” Because creativity and innovation are closely related, I also hold a top spot for “innovation,” out of nearly one million results.
I get dozens of invitations to connect, and several business inquiries each week, simply because of that search position. More importantly, I have built a solid “knowledge network” of people sharing my business interests and acumen.
How did I do it? Easily, in about fifteen minutes, without knowing anything about complex search algorithms. Here’s what to do if you want to get the top search position in your niche or area of expertise.
Step 1: Select your niche. Come up with the three or four key words or phrases that identify your areas of expertise. For example, “mobile app developer,” or “social media,” or “startups.” In my case, it was “creativity,” “lean thinking,” “design thinking,” and “innovation.”
Step 2: Edit your profile. Here’s the thing: the more times your key words appear in your profile, the higher you’ll climb in the search rankings. Simple as that! There are a few spots in your profile you need to concentrate on.
The most important part of your profile in terms of impact on search is the “Headline.” Like the other major social media networks, LinkedIn gives you a limited amount of space to sum up who you, what you’re all about, and how you help others. The trick is to draft a compelling headline that also uses your key words effectively. (For example, “Author/coach: creativity, innovation, lean, design thinking | Creativity, innovation writer on OPEN | Innovation speaker.”)
The next section to focus on is your work “Experience,” current and past. Use your key words there as well, in each entry, if possible. Obviously, your work experience needs to support your Headline and demonstrate your credibility and relevance. (For example, “Blogger on creativity at Amex OPEN Forum Idea Hub.”)
The third section to include key words in is the “Summary.” These sections are especially important, first because you have the freedom to craft a message that differentiates you, your niche, and how you add value within it, and second because LinkedIn search pays attention to what’s there.
You have two goals here: build credibility and move up in the rankings. I recommend two or three short paragraphs: one that builds off your Headline but goes further, one that talks about your current company and its mission, and a third that specifically talks about how you help. (For example: I help companies of all sizes build a culture of constant creativity and innovation so they can consistently achieve breakthroughs and solve the problems that are most important to them. I use and teach techniques from design thinking and lean thinking…all under the banner of subtraction: less is best.)
I suggest also including a “Projects” or “Specialties” list of knowledge or activities. You can really go to town here, and use your key words repetitively, and effectively. (For example: Creativity advice; Creativity coaching; Creativity seminars and workshops; Creativity speaking.)
Step 3: Rinse and repeat. Keep experimenting and playing with the frequency and combinations of your key words and phrases, keep editing and re-editing your profile to make it tight, compelling, and credible, conducting a search each time to see the effect of your change on your ranking.
What goes for Google goes for LinkedIn: You don’t need to be number one or number on the list, but it helps if you’re on the first page of search results.