Businesses have more recently realised that LinkedIn can offer consumers something that a website, Instagram page, Facebook page or Twitter account doesn’t – and that is professional credibility for those that work with and for you. And because LinkedIn recommendations come from other professionals it gives reliability to the comments on the site. This is especially important when you consider that people rarely buy a restaurant or a hotel or an attraction, they buy an experience, and that experience will be delivered by you and your team.
Another thing that LinkedIn does better than other sites, is allow you to be seen as an expert in your field. You can post meaningful insights and comments. You can write articles. Consumers can see which groups you follow and which events you attend. It’s the place you shout about the awards you’ve been nominated for and won. So, if, for example, you are passionate about green tourism and lots of your LinkedIn posts reflect this, it will add credibility to the claims on your website.
And of course, don’t forget that with over 750 million users (2021), there is a high probability that a proportion of these will, at some point be looking for a holiday, weekend away or nice meal out.
For those who are not familiar with the site, or who want to make sure you’re using it to maximum effect, we’ve included three Masterclass videos, a fact sheet and checklist to get you up and running. And if you need any help or support then please contact us.
LinkedIn is a great way to share industry news, keep up to date with customers and create new business opportunities through building networks.
Many businesses in the visitor economy sector shy away from even signing up to, let alone engaging with LinkedIn. True, many customers of visitor economy businesses are likely to be more active on Facebook, Instagram or even TikTok, but there are lots of advantages of connecting on a business level with potential partners, suppliers, employees, and membership organisations. It’s also a fantastic place to learn – about new trends; about new policies that might affect your business and even about new funding that might be coming up that your business could apply for.
So how do you go about doing this?
Different type of accounts
- The very first thing you need to do is set up an account.
- There are different account types available: –
- A basic account, which is free
- A premium account, which enables you to access other features. Within the premium section you can also select 4 different plans: –
- Career plan
- Business plan
- Sales plan
- Hiring plan
- There are different account types available: –
Your business type and job role will most likely dictate the type of plan you need, but to be honest most visitor economy businesses will only need a basic account.
Even on a basic account you can still set up a business page so that you can send messages, share content and connect with people as a business rather than an individual.
Setting up an account and your profile
- You can set an account up by visiting LinkedIn. You will just need to enter your first and last name, your preferred email address (where LinkedIn can contact you), your preferred password for LinkedIn and that’s it. Click the button that says Join Now. It’s as simple as that.
- To create a company page, click on the ‘work’ icon in the top right-hand corner of your LinkedIn page and choose ‘Create a Company Page’ option (right at the bottom). Select the size of business most applicable to yours, enter the company details and click create page.
- The next thing you will want to do is build a profile for both your personal page and your business page. Think about your profile as being a cross between your shop front, business card and CV all rolled into one. It needs to set the right impression about who you are, what you do and people should be able to connect with you easily.
There are different sections on your profile page that you’ll need to address to make sure you and/or your brand reflects who you are, what you do and why you are a right fit for whoever is looking.
To create and update your profile – go to the top of the page where you will see a drop down icon that says ‘Me’ and then ‘View Profile’
Background photo and profile photo
At the very top of your profile you have the option of adding a background photo or image. This is your opportunity to give a visual clue about you or your business. It’s where your branding should sit.
You will see a pen icon. Click on this and you can upload an appropriate image to act as your background.
On a personal page it could reflect your interests, personality or skill set. It should reflect your personality, style, ethos.
On a business page it should include your logo, your colour scheme and a nod to what you provide.
Where you see a circle to the left-hand side of the background, this is where you will upload a professional photo of yourself (for your personal page) or perhaps your logo (for your business page). The photo needs to be relevant and credible.
Directly under your name / your business name, you have the opportunity to tell people about yourself / your business.
This is the section that will dictate whether people will carry on reading and so you need to capture their attention straight away. You have seconds and very few characters available to make an impression.
Be sure to be clever with the space you have. Who are you hoping will connect? If they are entering search terms to find you, what will they enter? How can you weave these into your description?
- You can elect to feature the company you are currently working for and educational institution you are studying at within this section or you can choose to leave blank. Where you are working for a number of organisations you will need to select your primary organisation if you choose to include one.
- By entering your postcode and industry, you will feature in appropriate searches.
- You can provide contact information for those looking to connect with you off-line. You can even include your birthday if you’d like this to be shown on LinkedIn.
- You can (it’s not mandatory) enhance your opportunity of being found by clicking the ‘open to’ button where you can state whether you are:-
- Open to finding a new role
- Open to finding new clients
- Open to finding new recruits
You can add more options (not essential but most are recommended!) by clicking on the more box which include: –
This is your chance to expand a little on not just what you do but who you do it for, why you do it, how it impacts people. Think elevator pitch here. What will get the reader thinking, ‘I need to connect with them’?
Are there some great pieces of work you’re proud of? Awards you’ve won. Talks you’ve given. If so, include these here – this is your chance to give evidence that you’re as good as you say!
List your past roles, just as you would on a CV, to show your past experiences, achievements, accomplishments, and skills used.
We’re not talking your entire school history – but maybe your high school; college; university. For higher education, include your qualifications, including any industry related training.
Licences and certifications
If you have any professional or personal licences or certifications, be sure to list them here.
This section is best completed where your volunteer experience is relevant to the rest of your profile.
Skills and endorsements
You’ll want people to see at a glance that you have the relevant skills and attributes for the role you carry out. If you’re in events this might be logistics, event planning, project management. If you’re a manager in hospitality it might be customer service, hospitality management, staff management. This section is split into industry knowledge; interpersonal skills and other skills.
You can change the order so that the key knowledge and skills are shown at the top of the section.
Once selected – ask people if they’d mind recommending you for these skills. Or better still recommend someone without specifically asking. Most people will want to reciprocate in kind.
These are testimonials that other will type on your behalf. A bit like your own TripAdvisor report – except that you can draft a recommendation and send it to someone that you know has enjoyed your service asking if they’d be happy to recommend you by using/tailoring the prepared script.
Another place to list any memberships, awards, grades you are particularly proud of.
You can choose to let others see who you follow on LinkedIn. This will give them a flavour of your interests and will help them get to know you and what makes you tick.
Connecting with others
Now that you are set up and others can see who you are and what you do, it’s time to build your connections.
- The easiest place to start is with people who know you really well. Perhaps you’ve worked or studied with them or they are current or past clients.
- Go to the top of the page on the left-hand side and click in the search box.
- Start by typing the person’s first name and last name.
- When you find the right person click on that person’s name and you will be taken to their mini profile.
- Double check it’s the right person and then ask to connect by clicking the connect button.
- You will be invited to add a note. People are more likely to accept if you do.
- Based upon your connection list, LinkedIn will suggest others that you may know. Don’t be tempted to just randomly connect with anyone just to boost your list. Make sure you know, like and trust those you engage with. Your reputation is at stake!
- Check out the groups on LinkedIn. Are there any that would be beneficial for you to join? There are literally groups for just about every occupation including Hoteliers, Bed and Breakfast Owners, Events Professionals, Freelancers +++ These are great for small business owners who often feel that they are on their own. It gives them a voice, a place to chat with other like-minded people, learn from others and share their experiences.
- To find a group, type the subject into the search box and then click the Groups drop down. Click Groups and then ask to join
- If there are others in your industry that you believe are thought leaders, publications, or organisations that you have a vested interested in knowing what is going on (for example your local authority) or perhaps competitors then follow them. This way you will see content that they create, share, like or comment on in your feed.
- Simply type the name of the organisation in the search box – click on the company and then click follow.
- You’ll also be able to see the information for people who work there, and you’ll see a connect button by their names. Remember that if you do ask to connect, include a note letting them know what your association is with them and why you’d like to connect.
- Make this broad so that it reflects all of your interests and not just your specific business interests (remember that people want to see your personality too!)
- If you’ve attended a conference or meeting where you’ve been particularly impressed with one of the speakers or panellists or host, seek them out and in your connection request let them know that you saw their speech and found it interesting because of x.y.z.
Engaging with your connections
Once you’ve started to build a list of connections and followers, they will want to hear from you. It might be that: –
- You like something they have posted
- You comment on something they have posted
- You share something they have posted
- You create your own content – something that will add value to your audience. This could be in a written post or a video post, a poll, a brief update on what’s happening in your world, or you could just be commenting on something relevant that’s going on in the wider world
- And when you have vacancies, shout about them here. People generally like to be helpful, and these types of posts are often the most shared.
How to create a post
- Go to your home page
- At the top of the page – just above the news feed, you will see a box that says start a post.
- You have the option to just write text in the box; or attach a photo or video, link to an online page or article; create an on-line event or write a formatted article.
- To really get traction you will need to post regularly, and your articles will need to add value not sell
- Regularly doesn’t mean daily by the way. It could be that you write once a week or even once a fortnight. If it’s good content people will watch out for it.
- Creating a content plan will ensure you build a loyal and engaged following
- Good content includes news, industry articles, success stories, testimonials, teasers (for something coming soon), help or advice, local updates, news of events, quotes, facts and statistics.
So whilst LinkedIn isn’t perhaps the most seductive of the social media sites, it really can help you forge positive business relationships and establish you and your brand as someone people can know, like and trust.
In this first of three LinkedIn masterclass videos, Marianne explains how to create an engaging profile on LinkedIn so that you can attract more of your best customers. By the end of this video, you will be able to develop a profile that creates the right first impression and makes it easy for your best customer to decide that they want to engage with you.