Paul Jackson explains how the utilisation of LinkedIn can make a difference to your business and industry reputation
With 313 million members worldwide and three million registered companies, LinkedIn presents outstanding opportunities for businesses in any sector. But how can you maximise its benefit for both your clinic and for yourself as a professional?
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals in any industry, offering a huge potential to network, strengthen relationships, develop thought-leadership, and further career and business development. It is the online equivalent of your CV, your little black book of business connections and a networking event all rolled into one. Based in California, LinkedIn was officially launched in 2003 after its creation in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002. The company boasts almost 6,000 employees across 30 offices around the world, and staff numbers have almost tripled in the last two years. LinkedIn is now increasingly putting efforts into growth, innovation and customer service in order to hold onto its title of the internet’s largest professional network.
Every LinkedIn member has a personal page. This allows you to outline your profession, experience, honours and awards, publications, and the type of person with whom you would be willing to connect and network with. From here, users can connect with their peers, friends, colleagues, industry professionals and anyone else of interest in order to build their network. However, unlike social media sites such as Twitter, other LinkedIn users can only view your full profile and interact with you once you have accepted their invitation to connect. This allows you to control your network and to ensure that your connections are relevant to your business and its aims. You can specify whether or not you are interested in approaches from other groups of users (such as business connections and recruiters) to ensure that you only receive connection requests from relevant users who will help your business grow. As with Facebook, LinkedIn users have the ability to post news, updates and interesting content. This content, however, should have a professional focus – so you certainly shouldn’t see any cat videos or nomination challenges on this platform! This is a fantastic way to share your experience and to learn from others, as well as keeping up to date with your connections, the businesses you choose to follow, and even your competitors.
As well as personal pages for individuals, LinkedIn allows businesses to create pages for themselves. This has proved so successful that LinkedIn is now responsible for 64% of social media visits to corporate websites. LinkedIn business pages have a different format and focus to those of individuals. A business page should focus on outlining your services and specialisms, connecting the staff within your business, and allowing you to update your business’s followers and stakeholders with all the latest news and developments.
LinkedIn also offers Group pages. These groups are discussion hubs for specific topics and professions to share knowledge, experience and ideas. For example, there is a group for ‘Aesthetics & Beauty’ that currently has more than 16,000 members and features many active discussions each week. If you haven’t already, the starting point for using LinkedIn is to set up an individual profile for yourself…
At first glance, LinkedIn can appear like nothing more than an online record of your employment history. However, there are countless features (some of which go almost unnoticed) that you can use to raise your profile and promote yourself as a practitioner, industry expert and an exceptional employment candidate. The following tactics will take your personal presence to the next level:
In the aesthetics industry, having a strong network can be of huge value. Three quarters of UK LinkedIn users use LinkedIn to network with other professionals. Once you’ve created a LinkedIn profile, you will probably see that many of your colleagues, peers and fellow practitioners are already signed up. To help you connect with them as quickly as possible, you can synchronise your LinkedIn account with your email address to show you which of your email contacts already have LinkedIn profiles. Connect with the members you want to stay in touch with, get back in touch with, or establish contact with in order to build your network, keep up to date with them and make to it easy for them to contact you.
If you’re looking to further your career in aesthetics, LinkedIn is a key social network. Your profile acts as an online resumé which allows you to record (and potential employers to see) your progress, achievements, qualifications and interests. Recruiters are increasingly searching LinkedIn to find candidates and to view the profiles of applicants. You never know what might come of a connection you make on LinkedIn, and you’ll be amazed at the number of people you know that are also connected to other people in your contact list – this can be a great conversation starter.
Two LinkedIn features that are often overlooked are ‘Recommendations’ and ‘Endorsements’. ‘Recommendations’ are short written referrals about you from other users. You can ask other users directly to write you a recommendation, or you may receive them spontaneously from your connections. Meanwhile, ‘Endorsements’ are votes of confidence in specific skills that you have. Listing your core skills on your profile will enable others to endorse you with a single click to confirm that you excel in these areas. Having a high number of recommendations and endorsements will show that you are well regarded within the aesthetics industry.
For leading aesthetics professionals, LinkedIn is an effective place to demonstrate your knowledge online, and to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry. There are now over 1.5 million LinkedIn groups and 81% of LinkedIn users belong to at least one. Be selective and get involved in industry-related LinkedIn Groups to join discussions, have your say and make new connections. Follow the companies, organisations and industry bodies that are of interest to you in order to keep up to date with the latest news, ideas, trends, events and opinion in the industry. If you have a particular interest or specialism that you would like to discuss with others and to demonstrate your knowledge, why not start your own LinkedIn Group?
As well as being able to post short updates on your personal profile, LinkedIn has recently made their article-writing feature available to all users. Previously this tool was only available to well-known businessmen such as Richard Branson and James Caan, but now any user can write and publish an article on LinkedIn. Your connections will receive a message notifying them that you have published something online, so it is an effective way to demonstrate your industry knowledge, experience and opinion to your connections. You can even include links within your article that direct readers to your business website in order to help boost your online traffic.
Having a high number of recommendations and endorsements will show that you are well regarded within the aesthetics industry
Being an established and active LinkedIn user will probably not lead to droves of new clients heading your way overnight, but the incremental, medium-term benefits for your business, brand, image and reputation could see you gain new and repeat business.
To attract the best talent, it is just as important for you to sell your business to candidates as it is for them to convince you of their employability and experience. A complete and detailed business page will show that your business is credible, involved with the latest media channels, and has pride in its achievements.
‘Showcase Pages’ allow you to display your business’s core products and services in order to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities in certain areas – whether this is broad, such as ‘Aesthetic Treatments’ or more specific, such as ‘Laser Cellulite Treatments’. These pages will reassure potential clients of your expertise in specific areas of aesthetics.
As with all social networks, it isn’t a case of ‘build it and they will come’. You have to be findable and you have to let people know that you are there in order to build up a sizeable following for your business on LinkedIn. This then creates a captive audience for you to provide with updates and content via your business page.
Include links to your LinkedIn business profile on your website, on your other social media profiles, in your email signature, on your business cards, and in any other online publications. Images to use as links are available in the business section of LinkedIn, and these make it easier to drive people to your LinkedIn profile, where you can then develop an ongoing relationship with them. Once another LinkedIn user becomes a connection, you can keep in touch with them more easily, and continue to remind them of everything you have to offer long after they have left your website.
These are just some of the multitude of opportunities on LinkedIn. The key activities to remember are to keep your personal profile and business page up to date, to be proactive in locating connections, to get involved in relevant industry LinkedIn Groups, to post regular updates and publications, and to present both yourself and your business in the best possible light. What’s more, as LinkedIn is a free platform, the only cost is a small amount of your time.
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