Newly self-employed can use social and business networking sites to find potential contacts. A well written online profile is key to attracting new custom.
On both business and personal networking sites (such as LinkedIn and Facebook), the user profile is the first thing any potential new contacts will read. Therefore, it has to be engaging and give them a reason to link in.
The following tips for creating an engaging business online profile will help any new entrepreneur draw the right type of attention to themselves and their business.
Language in a Professional Online Profile
Researching other user profiles, learning what others are doing and then imitating the best is well worth the time. However, the language of an online profile should be adjusted to the type of the networking site and to the target readers so it does not look out of place.
Jokes should be avoided on a serious business networking site such as LinkedIn. Wordiness and self-importance will look out of place on a personal networking site like Facebook, and it’s questionable whether they should be reserved for a business-focused site either. Offensive language is a complete no-no on any site.
In terms of the content itself, the best approach is to make the introduction to the readers as succinctly and clearly as possible, ideally in just two short sentences. Bold text and italics should be used strategically and sparingly.
Boring business profiles are abundant in cyberspace and they are instantly off-putting. Words are wasted on lengthy dissections of industry, detailed company history, minute details of products or services. These should or could be mentioned but only in passing. The readers want to be able to scan the profile and pick out critical information easily.
Personality in a Business Online Profile
Even on more serious networking sites such as LinkedIn, it should not be all about work. The readers will want to know about the person behind the profile, rather than how they make money. If shared, interests and hobbies can open doors. But it’s important to balance work and personal information, bearing in mind the target audience.
Photographs are more immediate than words in terms of making connections, but a picture must be right for the site and the target audience. On a business focused site such as LinkedIn, a good-quality, a business-like image of the entrepreneur should be used. On Facebook, almost anything goes, including holiday snaps and pets. But there is a fine line between letting some personality through and embarrassment.
Branding in a Professional Online Profile
People will want to know how credible the entrepreneur is and what their aspirations are when deciding whether to connect with them. Therefore, at least one professional achievement and one professional goal should be incorporated into a professional online profile to convey credibility.
Most networking sites allow changing colors or adding background images. Company colors or other attention-grabbing devices can be used to reinforce the connection to the business. Business logos are important but the aim should be to get the readers to connect with the person behind the business first and only then with the business itself. It is best to simply include a link to the company website instead.
An online profile should never be used to sell to the readers. They will leave immediately if they detect an agenda and there are other channels that can be used within every networking site to make offers or to promote the product or service. The aim of the online profile is to give people a reason to connect with the entrepreneur, rather than with their business.
Finally, it’s important to refresh the online profile regularly, with new or updated goals, success stories or even requests for help. If readers can see that the profile has been active recently, they will be more inclined to connect with the person behind.