What Should a Small-Business Owner’s LinkedIn Profile Look Like?

LinkedIn has plenty of potential uses for a small-business owner: lead generation, marketing, and hiring, to name just a few. But your company’s presence on the site is one matter; your individual presence is another.

You’re not climbing the corporate ladder, because you’ve already reached the top rung. It doesn’t make much sense to follow the typical advice given to job seekers who are looking to impress recruiters and employers. So, what the heck should your LinkedIn profile include?

There are two key differences between business owners and other LinkedIn users, says Ronjon Bhattacharya, founder and CEO of LineShed, which creates custom resumes and LinkedIn profiles. First, owners are looking for customers, not jobs. Second, owners often have more diverse — and sometimes unrelated — professional experience than the average corporate employee.

With that in mind, Bhattacharya offers these four tips for small-business owners when creating and managing a LinkedIn profile:

  1. Tailor the Experience section to your current business. Don’t list past businesses or jobs that have little or nothing to do with your present company. “If you now own a business selling roofing tiles, the number of pizzas you sold in your previous business as a Pizza Hut franchise owner is pretty irrelevant,” Bhattacharya says. Stick with accomplishments and metrics that matter to your current business. Otherwise, you run the risk of confusing — and turning off — prospective clients.
  2. List only skills and expertise that your company gets paid for. If you own a bakery, leave out the computer-programming languages you picked up in a previous career. “Too many skills can be distracting,” Bhattacharya says. “The general rule is there should be 10 or fewer skills listed. Fewer is better.”
  3. Make sure you’re found in searches. Like other social networks, LinkedIn allows you to make choices about how much or how little information you want to display to people you’re not already connected with. As a small-business owner on LinkedIn, it’s usually in your best interest to be as open as possible; otherwise, you are limiting your profile’s potential reach. The basic recommendation: Make your profile’s content fully visible in internet searches, not just on LinkedIn. (Go to “Settings” and “Edit your public profile” to do so.) “Ensure all potential clients, not just those three degrees away, understand what you have to offer,” Bhattacharya says.
  4. Engage as an individual, not just as a business. Remember, LinkedIn is a social site, one that’s quite different from Facebook or Twitter in many respects, but not entirely so. Put yourself out there as the human face of your business. Bhattacharya recommends participating in relevant LinkedIn groups as a starting point. If you can’t find a good one, consider starting your own. “In many small businesses, becoming recognized as an expert can have an extremely high impact on sales and the quality of clients,” he says.

About Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey is a regular contributor here, at InformationWeek and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @kevinrcasey.
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34 comments
tdsbiz
tdsbiz

@Clickbrand enjoying your #smallbiz and #socialmedia tweets!

BarbaraAlevras
BarbaraAlevras

@taigoodwin Appreciate you RTing my link to what a small biz owner's LinkedIn profile should look like. Thx for sharing w your followers.

BarbaraAlevras
BarbaraAlevras

@calhounlistings Thx for RTing my link to what a small biz owner's LinkedIn profile should look like. Glad you found it interesting.

oh_matt
oh_matt

@PRNews @johneavin Great find!

amcdtweets
amcdtweets

@BarbaraAlevras @intuit Very helpful, thank you.

s_bearden
s_bearden

@OwlDesk Thanks for the RT :-)

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Ronjon, by your own logic of limiting a LinkedIn experience section to relevant positions and not everything from the past, how come your own profile includes your time with the US Navy? I'm not knocking your military experience, but what relevance does it shed to "accomplishments and metrics that matter to LineShed?"

TonyMackGD
TonyMackGD

@RealtyWorldCaro Thanks for the mention

gsuefong
gsuefong

@TonyMackGD Thanks for RT

tomwsi
tomwsi

@socialdoesit @adamnewman2 @socialhappiness Thank you all for the kind RT's! Happy Wednesday!

WRNMontco
WRNMontco

@ctmarcom Thanks for the RT Coreen. I hope you are having a good week so far.

Ken Schmitt
Ken Schmitt

Excellent article.  At my firm, we have spent a lot of time researching the best Profiles and resumes.  I agree that there are different resumes for each level in each particular industry.  In fact, our resume writing services have been expanded to include creating LinkedIn Profiles.  You'd be surprised how many companies are using these profiles much like a resume when searching for candidates.

 

 I found most of your suggestions to be spot on.  However, I do disagree with you on one point.  Adding previous employers is important- It is essential to understand that your number of connections really effects your ability to leverage LinkedIn and improve your ranks on LinkedIn searches.  Reconnecting with former colleagues is one way to do this.  By listing previous employers you will be able to invite these people to join your network.  Otherwise you will need their current email address to connect.  

 

Thank you for addressing this important issue.

Ken Schmitt

www.turningpointsearch.net

LineShed
LineShed

@dariasteigman Hey Daria, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for tweeting it :))

LineShed
LineShed

@Gursharn Thanks for retweeting the article. It means a lot :))

LineShed
LineShed

@martinwaxman Hey Martin, thanks for retweeting the article. :)

InterviewIQ
InterviewIQ

@LineShed Good for businesses. I totally agree with the last point and try to do this myself. Thanks for sharing.

dynamicnet
dynamicnet

@NewEnglandXpo Thank you for the RT

LineShed
LineShed

@DawnMentzer @dynamicnet thanks for the retweets! :)

mikedaviss23
mikedaviss23

lineshed rocks! I used them twice already with amazing results - cool to see them here on intuit

Clickbrand
Clickbrand

@tdsbiz Why thank you! We look forward to following your tweets too!

TaiGoodwin
TaiGoodwin

@barbaraalevras You're welcome. LinkedIn when done right is perfect for my audience.

OwlDesk
OwlDesk

@s_bearden You're Welcome! :)

Ronjon Bhattacharya
Ronjon Bhattacharya

 @Ari Herzog Hi Ari, two reasons --

 

1)  'Ivy League military officer' is my summary sentence, which was chosen because it shows prior success along multiple dimensions -- since I chose that summary I have to show that I was in fact in the Navy

 

2) I also believe the military experience is relevant as it shows LineShed relates to military clients (which many civilian companies don't).  Since the only thing that's important is the experience itself, I included the minimum amount of detail possible -- literally one line per duty station, or 3 lines for 5 years of my life.  If that section were longer, it would take your eyes away from the other accomplishments such as TEDx (which is relevant because we do a lot of speaking).

 

As an aside, the military also helps prove internationalism, which might mean open-mindedness to some people (which is also relevant).

 

What you don't see is that I cut out a ton of jobs from the profile -- off the top of my head I'm thinking of 2 consulting engagements which both had amazing results (unfortunately irrelevant to LineShed).  I also didn't include a marathon (shows drive) -- in the end I thought it wasn't as relevant as the other bullets.

 

Does that answer your question?  Happy to discuss further.

 

Best,

Ronjon

dariasteigman
dariasteigman

@LineShed I did. But think a balancing act b/w being everything to everyone (too many skills) & optimizing your profile for search.

martinwaxman
martinwaxman

@LineShed Happy to. I liked how you showed how entrepreneurs can differentiate their LI profiles

tomwsi
tomwsi

@socialhappiness you catch it, Happy Tuesday! ):

LineShed
LineShed

@dariasteigman That's certainly true. It's super tough to find that sweet spot. We always error on the side of coming across as focused.

LineShed
LineShed

@martinwaxman yeah it's not often talked about. LinkedIn is mostly discussed from the job seeker's perspective.

SocialHappiness
SocialHappiness

@tomwsi Turn that frown upside down :) Happy Tuesday new friend!

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