Build Your Business:

Building Your Brand on LinkedIn

October 7, 2013

I recently received an arbitrary email from LinkedIn proclaiming that I am in the top 1% of viewed profiles on the popular business networking site.

The natural analyst in me immediately began to think about the total number of members on LinkedIn (200 million). I also wondered about the percentage of them who actually use their account, let alone those who use it actively and — more importantly — proactively.

If you’re a proactive LinkedIn user, you may gain knowledge from a couple of insights I picked up along the way while building my network. Since I occasionally get asked for LinkedIn tutorials, here are some helpful tips on how to build your brand. These tips are especially relevant to those in sales and business-development roles.

1. Have a catchy title. This does not include the format of “role, company name”. For example, my title says, “Finding you the best fit for merchant services with no shady business at Equitable Payments”. This tagline has resulted in a lot of strangers, who relate to the woes of my industry and appreciate the candor and humor, reaching out to connect. In turn, I’ve won business.

2. Connect with people you meet within 24 hours. If you meet someone at a networking event, 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, so 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 connections from the people your contacts know and ask for an introduction. An easy way to do this is to find one to three 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 then make the mistake of never engaging 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 that person. Then, ask your contact 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.

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; it also 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 those 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 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 or event for which you have expertise.

13. Bring relevant content to the table. Do not swipe content from the homepage 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 client, hire or business opportunity? Now is 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.

Darrah Brustein is co-founder of Equitable Payments, an Atlanta- and Austin, Texas-based merchant services brokerage and is a networking and business development expert. She worked in the wholesale apparel business before transitioning into credit card processing. For more information or to comment on this article, email Darrah at