Do you hate LinkedIn or do you love it? Generally, when I see people talk about using LinkedIn, they fall into one of those two camps. It is funny to see the contrast between the two positions because I was once in the “hate it” camp.
It wasn’t too long ago that I had written off LinkedIn. It was dead, gone and irrelevant. Boy, was I wrong! In my defense, I wasn’t alone in that thinking, and in fact, some of that past perception is why people are still lukewarm on the channel. However, you can now put me firmly in the “Love It” camp.
LinkedIn as a social network is right up there with Facebook for where I spend most of my time. It is where I focus most of my attention right now because the business potential is off the charts. From a business perspective, it has already been a great value for building my brand, and I still see a high ceiling of opportunity.
I am sure I am not the first person to tell you that you should be leveraging the power of LinkedIn. The popularity of the channel is growing, and I am seeing more people talk about it at events and online, including super marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk, who called 2019 “The Year of LinkedIn.” I couldn’t agree with Gary more, and I think 2020 will be just as significant for the channel.
Because of the opportunity for growth on LinkedIn, I have made it a point to build as much expertise as I can on using the platform. Not only do I want to make sure I am correctly leveraging the channel, but I want to be in a position to help others leverage it as well.
I could go on and on about why I love this channel and why you should too, but that isn’t what this article is about. This article is to help those that don’t know where to start and those that need some solid practical tips on how you can “Win on LinkedIn.”
It starts with the profile
There is no excuse to not have a dialed-in LinkedIn profile in 2020. It is time to take charge of your future and attract more attention from your network. Try these tips for creating a winning profile.
►Edit your headline: Start by writing a specific headline. You can tell the network what value you add, who you are, and what you do. Keep your audience in mind and avoid technical terms that may be unfamiliar to them.
LO Example (David Koch): Your friendly, neighborhood, independent mortgage broker.
►Update your summary: Your summary is where you can add more details and showcase your achievements. Provide statistics to describe your impact.
Pro tip: You can add multimedia attachments like videos and articles to help you stand out.
►For Pete’s sake, upload a photo! I see so many people without a photo or using a bad picture. Pick an image that looks professional, clear and recent.
►Use keywords: LinkedIn has incredible SEO potential. Think about keywords that are popular in your field and include them in your profile, including the headline and summary.
►Choose your URL: LinkedIn gives your profile a URL, but you can change it to something that you like better or might work more effectively for you. The best practice is to use your name, and if that is taken, then be creative.
►Don’t forget social proof: Gather recommendations and endorsements to help your network see what others say about you. Ask customers, former employers and other contacts for recommendations. Use this social proof to highlight your expertise.
Create content and build authority
One of the great things about LinkedIn is the ability to establish yourself as a thought leader. LinkedIn is a business-focused social media channel, so the audience's intent is different than that of Facebook or Instagram. As a mortgage professional, this is where your expertise can make a difference by posting content that informs, advises and educates your audience. Try these tips for creating some winning content.
►Content-type: With LinkedIn, you can do video (only 10 minutes), long-form (text only), Images, and Live Video (although you need to be approved). Make sure to try a combination of these to see what works best. For me, my text-only posts are always a winner.
►Show your expertise: What to talk about is always a question I get from loan officers. But as I said earlier, LinkedIn is a business-focused network, so think about the audience. For example, did you just help a borrower with consolidating debt? What about helping them understand the value of buying a less expensive house by understanding their long term goals? Talk about those scenarios and others to enhance your reputation as a mortgage advisor.
►Be consistent: The best practice is to post every day. Just like other social media networks, LinkedIn wants its users to spend as much time on the platform as possible. The more interest-based content you create, the more LinkedIn will show your love in the news feed.
►Create articles: You are limited to 1,300 characters in your LinkedIn posts, so if you have a great thought leadership piece, creating a LinkedIn article is the way to go. Just like a blog post, you can embed images, videos and even audio. LinkedIn articles are trendy, and thus LinkedIn will get your profile in front of more people if you are actively publishing articles.
Pro tip: Your LinkedIn article can be shared outside of the network and can help with SEO for your profile.
►Best times to post: Just like with everything you want to do your own testing. What I say is the best time may not be the best time for you. However, in my experience, the best times to post are between 8:00 a.m.-10 a.m., Noon, and after 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (all local time).
Pro tip: Try posting on weekends. It goes against what a lot of “gurus” say, but some of my best performing posts (over 20k views) have been on a Sunday morning.
►Build relationships: People are still trying to figure out how to use LinkedIn to sell, so you will see a lot of those canned messages or connections with an immediate sales pitch. It is one of the reasons why people hate LinkedIn, but to me, this is a HUGE advantage. Instead of selling your services, get to know those in your network, and find ways to add value by answering questions when they come up.
►Engage with others: This is part of building relationships. Engage with others on their posts with commenting, reacting and sharing. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn will tend to have some great professional discussions where your expertise as a mortgage professional can add value. This is also a great way to build your network as others will reach out to you just by engaging in the comments.
►Use hashtags: LinkedIn does a great job with hashtags (#). Putting hashtags in your posts (like #mortgagebrokers) will help your content get discovered by others. On LinkedIn, you can follow hashtags that allow users to have a very specific newsfeed. If your post is gaining traction, your content can start to trend for that hashtag, which will open the door to thousands of views.
Right now, LinkedIn is a great channel to get a lot of free/organic views on your content, just like Facebook was five to six years ago. Eventually, like Facebook, LinkedIn will become a pay to play channel as others have done. Don’t miss this opportunity to build awareness of your brand, grab attention and ultimately, attract business.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.