Over the past couple of years we’ve heard a lot about the 99% and the 1%. Under regular definition of this term, I’m comfortably settled into the 99%, but in the context here, I’m in the 1%. This time, though, it was a label granted to me by an arbitrary 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 do happen to fall into that proactive category, and therefore think that is why I happened to be in this ‘elite’ (or so LinkedIn would like me to feel) group of users. But, it did bring to my attention that for those who may benefit directly from being a proactive user on this platform, they may gain from a couple of insights I picked up along the way. Since I get asked for LinkedIn tutorials from time-to-time, here are some helpful tips on how to build your brand, especially relevant to those in sales and business development roles.

1. Have a catchy title. This does not include “role, company name”. Mine reads “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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Seek out connections from the people your contacts know and ask for an introduction. An easy way to do that is to find 1-3 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!”.

5. Join relevant groups and be a participant in the conversation. Don’t spam the groups and never engage with any of the members!

6. Looking to connect with someone in particular? Look them up and see which of your contacts is connected with him/her. Ask that person to help facilitate a connection for you.

7. Create a company profile. If your company doesn’t have one,
it’s quick and easy to create one.

8. 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.

9. Complete your profile fully. 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.

10. 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.

11. Who’s looking at you? See who viewed your profile and contact them if there is relevance. You can only see who is looking at your profile only if you allow others to see when you look at theirs.

12. Start a group if you have a good reason to, and plan to grow it and keep it updated. This is a great way to build your personal brand around an area/topic/event for which you have expertise.

13. Bring relevant content to the table! Do not swipe the content from the home page of LinkedIn and share it. Bring something new and interesting to the table.

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? Now’s the time to get your profile and network up to date and activated. Don’t wait until you need something: at that point, it’s too late.