Okay, I get it. LinkedIn is all starched shirt stuffy, and no one has any fun. It’s not Facebook, right? This isn’t the place for frivolity, or personality, for that matter. It’s the place where people get—stuff—done. And, all of that is true, but for some types of businesses, freelancers for instance, sharing personal moments on LinkedIn can get you a lot of mileage.

What’s your lifestyle like? Mine? I work for myself. I run a small business. I do have flexible hours and a ton of fun at my chosen career. So, why not show that? It doesn’t matter what you have. Someone else wants it too! If you have a corner office and a two-hour daily commute in your paid for BMW, there’s plenty of people who want that. If you work at home in your pj’s, well there’s a ton of folks who want that too! Letting your proverbial hair down and showing people what your life is really like is a very good personal branding thing to do. Not only that, but because it is personal and because it stands out on LinkedIn, you’ll get a ton of eyeballs on your profile from a much larger group of people. And that, my friend, will translate into more prospects, presentation, and sales.

So, what should you show, and how much should you show? Here’s where we have to remember that LinkedIn’s a business networking site. It’s not edgy like Twitter. You’ll have use some restraint. Also, according to what your profession is, you’ll need to think about what you’re showing people. You wouldn’t want your attorney showing you how he was at home in his pj’s boogie boarding with his kids, would you? But you might go for a video of your attorney and her husband walking down Broadway after a show. In other words, not everything goes, and use your head!

LinkedIn marketing done right goes something like this. Get an account, create a killer profile, and get a lot of connections. Reach out to those connections and tell them about your product or service. Next, turn yourself into a though leader by creating tons of meaningful content. This process works, but it won’t happen in just a day. It’s going to take a few months. A year, maybe. But think of what you’ll have when you’ve accomplished the “thought leader” part. You’ll have positioned yourself as a big dog in your market area. This is positioning and branding that will serve you well for the rest of your career.

Here’s the catch, though.

It all depends on the content you create!

Most content I find on LinkedIn is dull and boring. Also, because it’s dull and boring, it doesn’t get the clicks or in the case of LinkedIn, it doesn’t drive that many people to your profile or get them to reach out to you, or even to respond favorably to you reaching out to them! If this is one of your marketing woes, good news! I have a few solutions that will help you pour proverbial gasoline onto your LinkedIn fire!

Make Viral Worthy Content

How do you know what topics are hot? Actually, on LinkedIn it’s pretty easy. If you go to your home page, you’ll see a list of trending topics. This tells you what’s igniting people! Pick a topic that can be bent to your own needs and write about that. Better yet, write about it and make a video about it. Even better create a slide show about it. Now you can post on LinkedIn, YouTube and SlideShare all in one fell swoop.

Ask Questions

LinkedIn is, after all, a social media platform. The overall goal is engagement! Asking questions is a great way to get your readers or viewers engaged! Doing this could mean all the difference between your content getting 5 clicks and 500 clicks!

One of the most important metrics to keep up with on your LinkedIn profile is the number of views you’ve gotten recently. Even with a free account, LinkedIn gives you an indication of whether or not your views are growing as compared with the last reporting time. Although you can’t always make sure your views are growing, you can generally influence them to grow, which is a very important thing to do.

If you’re not getting many profile views, there are a few things you can do about it. First off, I’d tweak your headline and possibly your profile summary. You headline and your photo appear when someone’s searching for something related to your profile. People look at all the search results and based on what your picture looks like and what your headline says, they decide to take the next step and click on you. You want that to happen a lot more, not a lot less!

Another big thing you can do is to start posting more content, more status updates, more links to PowerPoint presentations via SlideShare, more YouTube videos, more native videos. More, more, more! As you post more content, you’ll greatly increase the number of ways people can find you, which will, in turn, increase your profile views.

Finally, reach out to more people on LinkedIn! Expand your network. Consistently send out connect requests. Don’t do two hundred all at one siting. LinkedIn will notice and probably shut your account down, at least temporarily. You do, however, want to send out ten or so per day. Actually, up to 50 a day is totally safe, in my experience! Reaching out to people makes them in turn go read your profile, which will over time create a lot more leads for you and your business!

I’m amazed at how many entrepreneurs, salespeople, freelancers, and business people fail to utilize the amazing power of LinkedIn for sales and lead generation. I know what happened, though. At some point in the past, everyone got it into their heads that LinkedIn is a place to find a job, or a virtual Rolodex. Sure, it’s both of those, but it’s actually so much more! LinkedIn is the world’s top business networking platform with over half a billion users. You can connect with virtually any business person, or really anyone who’s a professional of any sort, on the planet through LinkedIn. To actually start leveraging the power of LinkedIn, let’s talk about a few changes you might need to make.

First off, you need a really good head shot. Not a picture of you, your wife and your kids on your last vacation, where you cropped out everyone but you. You need a well thought through business picture. One great idea is to have the background actually be where you work. Your logo, your company’s logo in the background would look perfect.

Second, you want a headline that really grabs people’s attention. Think about this like a sales letter writer would think about it. If you’re not that great at sales, go find someone in the sales department to help you out. They’re used to thinking like this.

Third, following up on the headline, you want your profile summary to actually sell you. It’s not a resume! It’s more of a gentle sales letter. Write it in first person. Put a little of the human factor in it. Towards the bottom, tell people what they should do next. Connect with you! Reach out to you! Click on a link and get a free report! That sort of thing.

Once you get all this set up, you can start growing your connections and using LinkedIn’s great messaging feature to grow your network!

There’s been a plethora of people calling themselves consultants on LinkedIn, when in point of fact, they’re not consultants—they’re just currently unemployed! Somehow, rightly or wrongly, word got out that being unemployed was a bad thing and that recruiters would look askance at anyone who’s title says that they are indeed unemployed. I’m not s recruiter and I’m not looking for a job. I actually am a consultant. I consult with individuals and businesses who want to learn how to leverage LinkedIn to grow their networks, sales, and their businesses. So, you can see that I have a vested interest in there not being a lot of “false positives” when it comes to consultants! Not only that, but I know a thing or two, or three or four or twenty, about LinkedIn, and I’d like to address this whole issue.

First off, if you’re a consultant, say so! This is your job, after all, right? And, you do want clients to hire you, and how are they going to find you on LinkedIn, if they’re looking for a consultant, unless you announce that you’re a consultant!

Having said that, as far as the unemployed job seeker, I can see no reason why you’d want to call yourself a consultant. It’s sort of a code-word now for unemployed. A kind of placeholder. You don’t need a placeholder! Recruiters that I personally know all say that they’d rather see your most previous job title as your headline on your LinkedIn profile instead of consultant or “Seeking A Position”, which sounds incredibly lame! Look, be who you are and be open about who you are. Don’t start your next job or career based on a lie, albeit a small one. Openness and honestly are always the best policy. Besides, the profiles of all these unemployed, non-consultants are obviously faking it. You’re pushing away, as opposed to attracting the right jobs!

Want a quick hack that will secure you tons of new business this year, if you apply it consistently? LinkedIn had removed this feature, then, probably due to all the hue and cry, they added it back in. It’s the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature, and it’s my go-to method of getting new business for my consulting business.

Think about it for a moment. Who would potentially be more interested in you and what you do than someone who searched for you on LinkedIn and took a look at your profile? That right there is a ready-made source of potential prospects!

I’m not going to tell you how to get to the web page that tells you who’s viewed your profile. You can figure that out for yourself. Besides, LinkedIn moves things around. Just Google it, if you don’t see it right away. (Hint: go to your profile!) I do want to tell you a couple of things you should be doing with this, though.

First off, you need to monitor the number of profile views you get. In general, and over time, you want your profile views per unit time to grow. If you’re doing content marketing, or having someone like me do it for you, you should be getting more profile views. Profile views are one of the main metrics I use to determine if my content marketing strategy is working or not.

Second, you want to actually reach out to people who’ve viewed your profile. Even with a free account, you’ll see a few of these people. If you upgrade to one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts, you’ll get the whole thing unlocked, plus more useful analytics.

Exactly how do you reach out to these folks? Pretty simple, actually. Just message them and thank them for viewing your profile. Ask them if there’s anything you can help them with.

If the person is a first-tier connection, you can message them. If they’re a second-tier connection, or indirect connection, you’ll have to send them a connect request first.

Your LinkedIn profile is your “silent salesperson”, and the profile summary is actually more like a personal sales letter than anything else. I’ve been helping businesses and professionals use LinkedIn successfully for quite some time now, and often when I look at a new client’s profile, I see some of the same elementary mistakes. I’d like to alert you to these so you can fix them and watch your connections, referrals, and sales that you make from LinkedIn soar!

Mistake #1: Unprofessional looking photo! Wow! This one’s on probably half the profiles I look at. Would you go to a job interview looking like you’re chilling on the beach with a beer in your hand? If not (and I hope the question is no), why are you doing that “virtually” with your unprofessional photo on LinkedIn. You’re on LinkedIn to network in some fashion or other, and that networking is business-oriented networking. How about looking like you’re a winner instead!

Mistake #2: Showing skills that should be taken for granted. There’s no need to talk about how you’re capable of getting to work on time, or how you can get assignments done on time. Everyone can use Word and PowerPoint. No biggie anymore! So, why mention it? That doesn’t make you stand out, it makes you look old—from an era when having a skill set on PowerPoint was indeed rare! Take out the skills that should be taken for granted and put in skills that set you apart from the crowd!

Mistake #3: Mixing up personal life and LinkedIn, career-oriented life. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and other social media sites, are the places for you to talk about your dog, your kids, your vacation, and other aspects of your non-working life. LinkedIn is where you talk about work! You talk about what you do for a living, your career, your skills, your achievements. Sure, the two overlap a little, but honestly, you need to keep the person stuff on the other platforms and the business stuff on LinkedIn where it belongs.

As the world of social media makes our lives much more transparent and much more public, it’s very important for businesses to change their approach to finding, selling, and servicing their customers and clients. Gone are the days when you couldn’t sell somebody something, charge them an arm and a leg, and then offer shoddy service on the back end. You’ll hear about it, not just sooner or later, but in real time on Twitter! Reputations can be smashed in a matter of a few days online. This may or may not be a good thing, but it’s a reality for today’s business world.

I sell to a lot of businesses on LinkedIn. I also help business clients of all types use LinkedIn to market their services and products. Although not the rough and tumble world that Twitter is, negative exposure on LinkedIn is to be avoided at all costs! Okay, granted it’s rare that someone “flames” you on LinkedIn. (As opposed to Twitter where it’s a second by second occurrence.) But still, your LinkedIn connections are each connected to a lot of people. Why would you want to make enemies! True, sometimes a bad customer experience can’t be helped, and sometimes customers are just plain crazy, but if you can avoid negativity, it’s very important to do so.

In the Internet marketing world, managing all of this is called reputation management, and it’s a very important part of marketing a business online where reputations can be, often unfairly, damaged rapidly! To that end, I’d challenge you to think about how you decide to accept business, persuade people to do business with you, and especially how you service your clients. This last bit is super important! Recently it’s been called onboarding, and it’s the process of making sure you client has reasonable expectations and that those expectations are perceived as met and hopefully even exceeded by your product or service.

Although I usually work with small to medium-sized businesses, I do occasionally work with professional freelancers. I’ve had clients who are business writers, graphic artists, and digital designers. Freelancing is a great way to work because you have very low overhead and, if you know what you’re doing, you can make a killer income. The only real issue that most freelancers face is finding clients. And, that’s where LinkedIn comes is.

Last year, LinkedIn launched a new service called LinkedIn Pro Finder. Basically, this service connected freelancers with people who need their services. If you’ve ever heard of Upwork, this is LinkedIn’s version of the same idea. Potential clients come to Pro Finder and post jobs. Freelancers, on the other hand, bid on the jobs. If the client accepts the bid, then the freelancer has found a new client. This model has been tried for a few years now and tends to work very well both for clients and for freelancers who know how to make the platform work for them. (It can be a little frustrating to get rolling with this as a new freelancer!)

Looks like Pro Finder is off to a good start, too! LinkedIn isn’t revealing how many jobs have been rewarded, but just looking at the platform you can see that it’s being used by thousands of freelancers. There are over 5,500 business writers on the platform as of the time I wrote this article. Pro Finder comes with a free trial. Freelancers offer a variety of services. Everything from IT, to content writing, to digital design is there. You can even find legal services and accounting services on Pro Finder. Basically, all of the freelancers or outsourcers you’d need to get a business up and running can be found on LinkedIn’s new freelancer platform.

Being a thought leader is a good thing! They make more money, get more business, have bigger mailing lists, and in general have more influence. In today’s Internet governed business world, I’d almost venture to say that you can’t reach your potential without becoming a thought leader. So, if that’s true, and I think it is, how does one do this? Well, the good news is that you can do this right on LinkedIn. And, guess what else? There is no bad news!

Here are a few things you need to get into place and consistently do in order to establish yourself as a thought leader.

1. Be yourself! Thought leaders are first and foremost leaders! People need and are looking for guidance in various parts of their lives, be those career, relationships, health, or finances. In order to lead, you need to be a leader not a follower, and being who you authentically are is priority number one.

2. Create a lot of content consistently. You need to be creating LinkedIn Pulse blog posts probably once a week. You need to be using YouTube, SlideShare and other platforms that integrate easily with LinkedIn. People need to feel like the “see you everywhere”. The only way to do this is to have a lot of content out there—everywhere.

3. Start a Group on LinkedIn. Groups are wonderful for corralling people with like interests. If you’re going to create what Seth Godin calls a tribe, you need some way for them to communicate, get excited, and generally identify each other and identify themselves as part of the tribe. You have to be careful with groups on LinkedIn. You don’t want them to become “spam fests”, but that’s easily doable. Just monitor the group, and if someone starts treating it like their own person referral machine, just boot them out!

Follow these three steps consistently, and you’ll start to see the glorious results that all thought leaders see!