Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Would Being Recognized as an Expert Bring Success to Your Ministry?

It is usually a tremendous advantage to be recognized as an expert, especially in some fields of ministry.  Being an expert can bring clients and ministry receivers directly to you; and can encourage friends and other ministers to refer their contacts to you for your expertise in a specific field.  Of course the first step is to make sure you are an expert, that step is up to you.

Once you have the expertise, how do you tell people without sounding arrogant or elite?  With today’s online resources you can build trust and exhibit expertise in your field in many ways.  A little planning will help you put your time and resources where they will help you the most.  Skipping the planning can likely cost you extra time and delayed success.

First begin by identifying your ideal business or ministry “target audience”.  That target audience might be customers, counseling clients, ministry receivers, students, pastors and church leaders, or even publishers and distributors for your products.  Then identify where your target will likely spend time, such as reading the newspaper, trade journals, brochures, websites, blogs, social networks like LinkedIn and facebook, etc.  You can begin by asking your current friends and associates what they recommend.  Finally, identify the media outlet that is likely to get you the best or largest return and find resources that will help you take advantage of that outlet.

Since Linked4Ministry started out primarily about LinkedIn, I’ll start with that.

Your LinkedIn Profile – Since LinkedIn was designed to be a professional network, a good profile can exhibit a real level of trust and expertise with the right elements.  You can find additional information about the LinkedIn elements in past blogs and articles from Linked4Ministry but here are the minimum recommended elements:

  • A professional head shot photograph.
  • A good “headline” that tells people what you can do for them.
  • A summary that tells what you’ve done for others.
  • References that exhibit trust, reliability, and success.
  • Educational references that add expertise to your field (can be seminars etc.)
  • Apps that show Books & articles that you’ve written or read in your field.

LinkedIn Groups – Identify what groups your target audience might join.  If you have identified targets in LinkedIn, you can view their profile to see what groups they are in that might benefit you, and might help establish your expertise, and join them.  You can search for people with key words (i.e. pastors, authors, publishers, etc.) to see what groups they are in.  Once you identify the groups that will help you, and you join the groups, read through the discussions to see what the ‘tone’ of the comments and articles are.  Identify existing discussions or start new discussions that you have real expertise in and contribute things that will add true value to the discussion.  Look for things that might have been overlooked in the discussion that will shed new light on the conversation or provide solutions not yet mentioned.  Make sure all your posts are well thought out, spelled correctly, and supportable if you are asked.  When you see a target contact that you’d like to be connected to, you can search their contributions in the group and either add to that discussion, or communicate directly with them.  Start with things that add value or ask their advice or input.  Once a relationship has built value, you can invite them to be directly connected.

Other Media to consider

Blogs – It’s amazing how many blogs there are today, and sites like WordPress.com and WordPress, Blogger.com, Tumblr, Textpattern, and Posterous are all free and about as easy to use as a word processor.  Once you have a blog, you’ll need to promote it until it takes off.  Post new blogs in your LinkedIn status updates, in LinkedIn groups (that allow blog links), on your facebook page, on Twitter, in Google+, and everywhere else you can find to get the word out.  Make sure your blog has a place to allow readers to subscribe to future additions, and include icons for sharing on LinkedIn groups, Facebook, twitter, WordPress, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, and any other link your blog host has available.  If you have a website, you should either imbed your blog or make it a very visible link on your home page.  Finally, ask your blog readers to share your blog with friends and associates they believe might be interested.  A good blog with valuable or helpful information can establish your expertise in your field.  Keep a list of your blog topics handy with the URL (internet address) that you can refer others to for answers.

Answer or Ask Questions – You can scan LinkedIn questions to find ones in your field of expertise, or start new ones that will attract attention.  Follow the same guidelines as group discussions to build value before asking for return.  The same goes for other sites like Yahoo Answers or Answers.com.  LinkedIn allows readers to vote on the most influential answers, Yahoo gives you points if your answer is selected as best., and Answers.com identifies the most answers with a ‘top contributor’ title.

Polls – You can start LinkedIn Polls (in the general LinkedIn polls or in specific groups) that will ask intriguing questions that will challenge people to stretch their thinking or beliefs around your expertise.  Use the group discussion guidelines.

Conclusion – If you take time to provide true value without an expected return your expertise will be noted and shared, but obvious self promotion or blatant bragging or selling will backfire.  Include links to your own resources and to other resources in comments and answers that give readers additional value.  Give away free advice that demonstrates your expertise, but never give a half answer with a “buy this” for the rest of the information.  My suggestion for the key to success in God’s Kingdom is “pay it ahead” and you will receive God’s blessings, which includes the monetary success you need to live.

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Linked4Ministry & Anothen Life Ministries

12 Ways to Promote Your Ministry or Business with a Web Presence

In today’s world, a business or ministry must have a “Web Presence”.  Not necessarily a web site, but a web presence.  A web presence simply means you, your ministry, or business can be found by an online search.  You don’t have to be active on the internet to have a web presence, you might just be listed in an online membership directory, or you might have a website, and a full array of social media profiles.  The best way to be found is to be listed in as many things as possible, and include key words that you want to be identified with.  See What Gets You Found for additional details on key words.

Your web presence certainly includes a website, a LinkedIn profile, a facebook page, and a twitter account.  Those might currently be the “big four”, but there are many other ways you should consider.  Here are a few suggestions:

Website – A website doesn’t have to be expensive, I’ve used Network Solutions and 1&1 for under $150 a year.  Although they can take a while to set up, it’s not much more complicated than using a word processor if you use their templates and backgrounds.  Keep in mind, the most important thing is to make them appealing and compelling (both visually and content) so visitors will stay there to read a bit, before moving on.  If the home page isn’t captivating, I move on in 5-20 seconds.

Blog – A blog can give you great exposure, and keep readers tuned in for more.  A blog can build your online trust, credibility, and reputation, as well as build your brand.  Several to consider are WordPress, BlogSpot, or Blogger.com.  They are free and offer ready to use templates, or you can build your own.  You can have a free standing blog, or incorporate it into your web page as a link or a tab.

Email newsletters – If you already have a big following you might consider an email newsletter.  There are several services that automate them like constant contact for a small fee.  The fee includes maintaining your mailing list and allowing readers to subscribe and unsubscribe without you having to maintain the list.

Video newsletters – With today’s society that loves to ‘watch’ rather than ‘read’, a video newsletter can be very powerful if it’s consistent and professional.  It doesn’t have to be expensive with flip type camcorders that make it easy to post a YouTube video.

LinkedIn profile – I’ve written lots about LinkedIn, but having a detailed profile not only gives you a great reference site, and search ability, it can be used as an additional resource on business cards, emails, and correspondence, by including your LinkedIn Public Profile (your LinkedIn profile’s URL).  Be sure to customize it first, so it will look professional, and be easy for readers to enter.

Business Cards – Everyone needs a professional looking business card with your contact information.  You should give two to everyone you meet (one for them to keep, and one to share).  Check out VistaPrint.com for low cost or free cards if you pay the shipping, or search for “free business cards” to find other options.

Facebook – Facebook isn’t only for reporting what you ate for breakfast, you can build a fan page or business page.  There’s lots written about facebook, and I’ve included several great guides in the “Linked4Ministry” LinkedIn group.  You can also see LinkedIn vs. Facebook Business Pages for additional details.  Just remember to keep your facebook page totally professional, or remember to keep your personal page and contacts separate.

Twitter – A Twitter account can help followers keep up with you, your blog, newsletters, etc.  Twitter doesn’t have to take much time, with one click you can have your LinkedIn Status changes automatically post in your Twitter account.  Twitter done right can greatly add to your exposure.  You need followers, so you will need to invite them to get started, then add a suggestion to “re-tweet” at the end of your posting. 

Referrals – Having your clients and ministry receivers recommend you is huge, but sadly widely ignored in ministry.  Consider it akin to witnessing to someone with your testimony; it adds believability and reliability to your witness and your ministry.

Liking & Sharing – To increase your exposure, you will need help.  Today’s term is ‘going viral’, or spreading your message like a virus spreads.  The easy way is to get your friends and readers to “Like” or “Share” your content with their friends.  See The Reality of Liking and Sharing for additional details.

Business (Ministry) Plan – Have a clear (written) business plan including your target market (watch for future articles on this).

Other Ministries – Look at other websites and social media pages to see what they are doing.  Don’t forget to check out what your competition and companion ministries are doing for additional ideas.  Check out How BackLinks Help for more info.

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Linked4Ministry & Anothen Life Ministries

 

What Gets You Noticed (found) in LinkedIn and the Internet?

The answer to this question is easy, it’s “key words”.  A key word is a word that the people you want to be found by might use when searching for you.  It might be your name, but more likely it will be a product or service you can provide.  The key words you choose will be part of your ‘brand’, or what you are trying to be recognized by.  Your business/ministry plan should include those key words, as well as everything you do on the internet, in print, or video.

I’ll use my deliverance and inner healing ministry as an example.  My key words will obviously be deliverance and inner healing, but also might include spiritual warfare, spiritual healing, demonic warfare, demonic oppression, deliverance training, as well as any specific ministries I’m involved in (Restoring the Foundations, Ellel, Elijah House, Cleansing Stream, Freedom in Christ, Theophostic, Sozo, etc).  My key words would also include my own ministry names, including Anothen Life Ministries and Linked4Ministry.

In LinkedIn, there are two places those key words should go.  You will want to include them in your “Summary”, preferably in sentence form so they look nice and make sense, and under your “Specialties” section, listed as a series of words separated by commas, dots, or symbols.  The Specialties section is found at the end of your Summary.  The same key words should be included on your facebook page, the homepage of your website, and any other social media you are using to be found.

Other key words you might consider are the words that your competitors (or complimentary ministries) use, words used in your marketing materials, seminars, and schools, words that describe your personality (Compassion, Kind, etc.), words that describe your ministry (types of counseling like sexual healing, temperament counseling, abuse, etc.,), certifications, skills, languages, courses, honors and awards should also be considered.

The key words you use, and where you place them will determine where you will fall in search results when people search for you.  Having the right key words is critical and something that you should continue to build.  Looking at competitive or complimentary ministries will give you some ideas.  Searching for each of your own key words will give you more ideas.  Looking up your key words in dictionaries and online references will also help.  If your ministry needs to be found, this is something that you simply cannot take lightly.

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Linked4Ministry & Anothen Life Ministries

The Reality of “Connections”, “Liking”, and “Sharing” in Social Media . . .

What do we need to consider when we make or accept connections, how we build value for our network, and what should be expected in liking and sharing posts on social media?  The way we handle these things can help assure our success in what we desire to accomplish using social media, so it’s important that we spend a little time in planning how we will handle them.

Your Connections

Most of us understand connection quality vs. quantity.  We should each have a connection strategy, something that outlines who we will invite, and who we will accept invitations from (see my strategy below).  This strategy will be based on who your “target connections” are (the people you want to connect to).  You might want to identify your strategy on your profile to limit unwanted invitations.  If you want to maximize the value of LinkedIn, you will want to have a way of allowing or encouraging desirable invitations, so be sure you allow invitations in your security settings (In LinkedIn, go to “Settings” “Email Preferences” & “Select who can send you Invitations”).  You might also want to include an email address in your Contact Settings or in your Summary (I still recommend a dedicated email address for LinkedIn or even social media in general).  Of course there will be a few exceptions, but hundreds of unknown or unrelated connections don’t help much, and might even discourage people from connecting to you because they can presume you won’t be able to help them as you can’t possibly know all your connections.

My Connection Strategy

My personal LinkedIn connection strategy is to: (1) personally know my connections including family and friends, (2) worked with them in previous jobs, (3) have common ministry goals including deliverance, inner healing, and career coaching, (4) they are members of my LinkedIn groups.  If I receive an invitation, and it includes a personal message of why someone wants to connect, I almost always accept.  If the invitation is not personalized, I take the following steps; (1) look at their profile to see if common values or goals are indicated, (2) look at their groups to see if they indicate common (or conflicting) values, (3) look at their websites and links to see what they tell me about the person, and finally, (4) check out their work, education, recommendations, and the apps they use for additional input.  My connections either contribute or detract from my personal brand, and the value of my network.  I respect and value my connections as valuable resources, and generally will go out of my way to help them if I can.  My connections move from valuable to questionable if I get a message from them days after connecting, asking me to engage in some type of business with them.  Take time to build trust first, and make sure you only offer things that they have indicated they want or need.

Group Connections

Joining Groups is one of LinkedIn’s important benefits if you want to connect to people you do not currently know.  You will want to join groups that have common values and goals, and groups where your “target contacts” will be members.  If you join a group and immediately try t sell them something you will lose any credibility before you begin.  By participating in group discussions with valuable input, you can create your personal value and credibility to those that you want to connect to.  If you started a group, it’s a good idea to let potential members know what any membership qualifications might be.  Be aware joining a LinkedIn group can contribute to your personal brand, so always be cautious that the group profile is consistent with your values and goals, as well as the group’s rules are what you want to accept.

The Value of Your Connections and You

Your network is only as valuable as you make it.  It takes work to build that value.  One of the best ways to add value is by adopting the “pay it ahead” philosophy.  You can do this by sharing valuable and interesting information that you believe they will benefit from, and help them solve problems they might have.  As I mentioned above, that does not include selling your services to a new connections before you get to know them.  To my connections, I do recommend my two groups to those that I feel might benefit, but the groups are strictly voluntary and have no expected monetary return.  I fully intend both groups to be a “pay it ahead” gift, but I do occasionally sense reluctance that there is a catch coming.  There is not a catch, and there never will be in my groups.  Recommend books (keep these to other authors unless directly asked for your publications) and recommend groups that will help them succeed in their business and ministry.  We all have unique experiences, knowledge, and wisdom that can help others.  As a trainer recently told my son, you are a truly unique creation that will never happen again, not sharing your talent and gifts will keep others from ever having the opportunity to receive them and grow in the path that God desires for them.  Those more active on the internet will frequently find valuable articles and web pages that our connections could miss.  Finding a way to share those things should be a continuing goal to build our relationships and the value of our network.  A great way to add value is starting a LinkedIn group that has a focus to help your connections (preferably one that doesn’t already exist), and frequently start and contribute to the discussions.  That was exactly the goal for both my “Linked4Ministry” and “Anothen Life Deliverance and Inner Healing Network” LinkedIn groups.

Expectations of your Connections

What do you expect your friends to do when you write an awesome blog article, update your LinkedIn status, post a photo or story on facebook, or share a link on Twitter?  Should your friends read it, or comment on it?  If they are really friends, do you expect them to “Like”, “Share”, or “Re-Tweet” it?  Living in today’s Entitlement Society certainly gives us some expectations of our social media connections, but are our expectations realistic?  Actually, our connections don’t owe us anything just because they accepted our invitation, or we accepted theirs.  We must earn their respect and trust before we can expect them to help us.  When we consistently “pay it ahead” by contributing things that add real value, we build our credibility, trust, and respect.  Is that enough to get them to “Like” or “Share” our ‘stuff’ to help us reach a larger audience?  If you are connecting on social media to help people without worrying that it will have an ROI (return on investment) then you will most likely be successful.  If your goal is to monetize everything you do, then you won’t garner much support.  Expecting reciprocity on social media is just like life, it doesn’t happen without relationship, and happens frequently for those who ‘pay it ahead’ without regard for personal gain.

Liking and Sharing

When you “Like” an article or posting by a friend or connection, it is generally noted on your home page or status, and it raises the awareness of the posting, giving it additional exposure to your connections.  When you “Share” an article or posting, you can add your own comments (which is actually a recommendation or critique), and your comments will be seen by your connections giving them the added incentive or warning to click on the link or support the cause.  If the posting adds value to your connections, consider liking or sharing it with your connections, but always consider what type social media you are using.  I believe too much liking or sharing by a single individual too close together on LinkedIn degrades the value of my network updates, causing me to be frustrated with having to scroll through too many updates that don’t interest me, and possibly causing delays when I have to click on “more” to see the rest of my network updates that moved off the screen.  Facebook has some of the same issues but is sometimes less offensive because of the ‘social’ slant.  Twitter, on the other hand is all about lots of liking, sharing, and re-tweeting to help the postings gain large amounts of additional exposure.

In LinkedIn, the two extremes of not liking or sharing anything on social media, or liking or sharing so much that it looks like a Twitter stream does not provide value to you or your network.  A proper balance of liking or sharing to highlight things that others will benefit from, or will enjoy, adds value to your network.  When it’s done without expecting anything in return, increases your value, trust, and credibility to your network.  We still shouldn’t expect others to like and share our material just because they are connections.  If we ‘pay it ahead’ and ‘do it without expecting reciprocity’ as a way of life, we work toward gaining other’s support in a natural and easy way.  When and if our connections do reciprocate, and like or share our material, we know we are working in the right direction to building a valuable network that everyone benefits from.

Reciprocity in social media games

A final (and perhaps extreme) lesson in reciprocity on social media, and a good lesson in marketing, comes from the use of social media games like Farmville.  A lot of action in these games is all about reciprocity.  People give you things in these games, and they expect you to return the favor.  Ernst Fehr, an economist, did a study where players are asked to choose between keeping $10, or giving $40 to another player.  The expectation was that if the second player chose to accept the $40, they would split it with the first player, but knowing the second player could just keep the $40, might cause the first player to just keep the $10.  In the study, people were found to be generally trusting, and usually willing to take the chance of giving the second player the $40.  This strategy in marketing Farmville has made it extremely successful, and many players spend a great deal of time playing it.  I’m not sure how we apply the Farmville marketing strategy to ministry, but the strategy of providing value, and providing more than others expect, is always a good marketing plan.

 

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Linked4Ministry & Anothen Life Ministries

 

Do you have audio or video files that are too large to share by email?

P L E A S E    S E E    T H E    U P D A T E    B E L O W !

In our ministry, we frequently have large audio or video files that we want to share with ministry receivers, but we are unable to email them due to their large size.  It can also be difficult, slow, and costly to mail large documents, CDs, & DVDs to other countries, and almost impossible to those that restrict Christian content.

I just found a quick, easy, and free solution called ZSHARE.

You can upload almost any non-copyrighted type file, up to 500 MB for non-members, 1 GB for registered (free) members, and 2 GB for the premium ($5/month-$30/year) members.

Once you upload your files, you can send them to any email address for listening or downloading, or share them on LinkedIn, facebook, twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and 341 other social media sites.

You can find ZSHARE at: http://www.zshare.net/

An Update to the above post . . . . . .

OH NO!  After trying it on my computer and it worked flawlessly, ZSHARE has caused some undesired results in actual use.  One computer had to download problematic software to listen to it, I received inappropriate web content on my smart phone, and a ministry receiver in Europe received a notice that the link had a virus.

I’ll keep looking for other options (and testing them thoroughly). I’d take the blog down, but I would rather warn those that might have read it and in the process of trying it, as well as ask for input.  In the mean time, please be cautious if you use ZSHARE, and let me know if you encounter undesirable or inappropriate results. !

 

7 Things you should NOT do on LinkedIn

There’s a lot about what you should do on LinkedIn, how about some things that you shouldn’t do?

 1.       Don’t ignore your LinkedIn profile.  If you set up your LinkedIn profile more than 60 days ago, it’s time to update it.  Things change in LinkedIn, our ministries, and our lives.  Your profile should reflect those changes.  Recent surveys found only 20% of LinkedIn users check their profile more than once a month.  I’m not sure it’s that low, but I know many users only open LinkedIn when they get an email telling them they have an invitation or message.  You are missing a gold mine if you don’t at least quickly scan through your network updates on your home page, and check to see who’s viewed your profile every day or two.  It doesn’t take but a few minutes, and you will find many new connections by doing only that.  You will also see things your network is doing that you might benefit from or participate in, or at least encourage them with.  Your network is valuable and must not be ignored if you want to benefit from LinkedIn.  If you are in doubt about the value of your LinkedIn profile, try searching for your name in Google, I’ll bet your LinkedIn profile if among the results.  If it’s not, it’s time to work on it.

 2.       Don’t overuse your LinkedIn ‘Status’ update – Your LinkedIn status should not include your Twitter and facebook postings.  Your LinkedIn network is mostly professional connections and they don’t care if you just got an awesome ice cream cone, or your dog had puppies.  If you post too many insignificant updates to your LinkedIn status, it will likely be ignored (think about the one’s you actually read).  Your LinkedIn status updates should include things that your professional connections will be interested in.  On the other hand, don’t go too long without changing it.  Keeping it current is an easy way to keep your name in front of your connections, and let them know what you are doing (professionally).  They may want to help you!

3.       Don’t forget to make use of your LinkedIn ‘Summary’ – Too many profiles don’t include a summary, or only include a few sentences.  Your LinkedIn summary should tell people what you can do for them.  The first several sentences must include the ‘key words’ that potential connections might search for to find you.  My key words include deliverance, inner healing, training, LinkedIn, etc.  If in doubt, type some key words you think others might use to find you in the search box and see who comes up.  You should also make sure you have a few sentences about what you did at each of your current and past positions (in the Experience section).  This lets people know who you are, what you have done, and why they should contact you.

4.       Don’t forget to customize your LinkedIn Public Profile URL – This is the last item in the initial information box, just before your summary.  Your LinkedIn Public Profile URL is the “internet address” for your LinkedIn profile.  If you have not customized it, the LinkedIn default includes your name and lots of meaningless numbers and letters.  If you customize it, it’s easy to remember by you and your connections, it’s easy to use by not having to also enter all those numbers and letters, it can be easily included in your communications like emails, letters, resumes, business cards, websites, etc., if you don’t have a website it can be your mini-website, and it lets people know that you know your way around LinkedIn.  You can customize it by letting your mouse hover over “profile” in the top menu bar and clicking on “Edit Profile”, then clicking on the blue “Edit” just after your existing public profile.  You should try to just have your name, if it’s already taken, try some alternatives like including your middle initial or full name in lieu of a nick name.  The only rule is making sure it’s professional.

5.       Don’t forget to include your Photo – A photo in LinkedIn tells others that you are a real person.  If should be a professional looking head shot on a semi-plain background.  LinkedIn is a professional network and other professionals want to know what you look like before they contact you or invite you to join their network.  A professional head shot will downplay things like age, gender, race, nationality or other factors.  Not having a photo can limit your LinkedIn success.  FYI – LinkedIn says it’s a violation to use anything other than a photo (no company logos, symbols, etc.)

6.       Don’t accept invitations or join groups without checking out the owner – I always make it a habit of being sure who invites me to connect or who wants to join my groups.  Look at their experience, education, recommendations, and even their groups.  I occasionally find people who have views or beliefs that totally conflict with mine.  I try to be polite and let them know that I don’t want to offend anyone that I’m connected to and we probably would bring value to each other.  That means you must be careful not only who you are connected to, but what groups you join, others might be looking.

7.       Don’t forget to “like” or “comment” on your connections status if you agree – The value of social media is multiplying our efforts.  If one of your connections says or does something that you believe your network would benefit from, let others know about it.  On a much smaller (and more professional) scale, it’s like twitter.  When you re-tweet (like or comment in LinkedIn terms) one of your network’s efforts, they will be more inclined to help you when they can.  Even if they don’t, if it adds value to you and your network, it’s a great thing to do.  My social network motto is “pay it ahead”.  Hey, while we are on the subject, be sure to let others know about Linked4Ministry!

Linked4Ministry is not only a blog, it’s a LinkedIn group, a facebook page, a twitter page, and a website!  Please do let others know about it.  Thanks as always for following us.

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

When is your LinkedIn Profile truly “optimized”?  The good news is, it doesn’t have to be fully optimized, but the bad news is it’s an ongoing process that done right, it never ends.  Just like your life changes, so will your LinkedIn profile likely change.  You begin with developing your strategy, what do you want LinkedIn to help you with?  Are you growing a business or ministry?  Are you looking for a new job or career change?  Do you want to build your trust and credibility in your profession?  Are you building your personal or ministry brand, or promoting brand awareness?  Is your goal to establish differentiation, or to stand out from similar businesses or ministries?  Are you trying to increase sales by generating leads?  Are you recruiting talent to help expand your business or ministry in new directions?  Defining your goals and strategy will help you focus on what must be done to optimize your profile so it will help you accomplish your goals.

If you are looking for a job, your profile will more closely resemble your resume.  Your summary should begin by saying what you will do for your prospective employer.  If you are trying to attract ministry clients, your profile will exhibit your experience and training, and establish your trust and credibility.  If you have little brand awareness, and need exposure, you need to tell people exactly what you do and why you are the right one to meet their needs.

Photo

Don’t omit adding a photo to your LinkedIn profile, it makes your profile personal and adds credibility to who you are.  It should be a professional looking headshot that doesn’t include additional people or articles, unless of course your identity is enhanced by including something like a pet if you are a veterinarian or a fancy car if you are an exclusive automobile salesman.

Headline

A LinkedIn headline is too often left to your job title.  If someone looks at your profile, they will see your most current position and title under experience, so you can use your headline as an additional way to attract people to your profile.  To take advantage of this feature, a good headline (1) will get people’s attention, (2) tell people who you are, and (3) what you can do for them.  When people see your status, discussions, answers, comments, and connection to their friends, they first see your photo, your name, and your headline.  A good headline will draw people to view your profile to find out more about you.  Your headline should also support your overall strategy.  Take note if you add a new position, your title will automatically become your headline, so you might have to update your headline after a position is added.

If I left my headline the same as my title of director of Anothen Life Ministries, someone viewing it would not know what I did and what Anothen Life is.  By making my headline “Anothen Life helps you eliminate things you thought you had to live with”, I’m hoping people will be intrigued enough to check out my profile or go to our website.  The additional line “Linked4Ministry extends your ministries reach” gives an idea of what Linked4Ministry is.  The number of characters in your headline is limited so you might have to play around with it to make it fit, but it’s worth the additional effort.

Connections

Your connections are usually at the center of your LinkedIn purpose and goals.  If you don’t believe you need connections, you might be missing major opportunities.  Likewise, too many of the wrong connections could hurt your efforts or add confusion and waste your time.  The number and type of LinkedIn connections you make should support your overall goals and strategy.  A large number of unrelated or unhelpful connections can detract from your purpose and even keep the right connections from seeing any value in your connection.  My connection strategy is to personally know all my connections, or have a common vision and goals so that we can add value to each other.

 

Summary

Your summary should tell people what you can do for them in the first several sentences.  Be sure to include “key words” that your target audience might search for in the first paragraph and your ‘ranking’ in LinkedIn search results will improve.  Saying you that were responsible for something doesn’t tell anyone how well you did at your assignment.  Including ‘quantitative” statements tell people what you’ve actually done.  Grew a youth group by 200% sounds good, but was it increasing from 1 to 3 members, or 25 to 75?  Speaking to large audiences is nice but a quantity and the event tell a more complete story.  Try to use the entire space LinkedIn allows, as long as it is all strategy or brand focused.

 

Recommendations

Recommendations from the right connections can help people quickly make a decision.  A recommendation from a co-worker or manager can help if you are looking for a new position, but might not help a potential client recognize how you can help them.  A recommendation from a client or ministry receiver that tells how you helped them will give potential ministry receiver additional third party information to help them make a decision and build their trust before they ever meet you.  The best recommendation strategy is quality, not quantity.  One recommendation that tells how you helped them, or the kind of person you are, is better than ten that are generic in nature.

Ideally, your recommendations will come from a variety of people and a variety of dates.  If you send out 100 recommendation requests on the same day, the dates of your recommendations will show that.  A good strategy is for you to send 2-3 recommendations to people you personally know each week.  When they receive the unsolicited recommendation, they will be pleasantly surprised, and LinkedIn suggests they might want to send you one.  It’s just a nice way of asking people for their help.

Applications

One of LinkedIn’s powerful features is all their applications, but deciding which ones to use and how to use them must align with your objectives so they don’t over confuse your profile.  I’ve purposely chosen to use every application I can as an example to give Linked4Ministry readers examples that they might consider. 

The Reading List by Amazon is great, but if you don’t know about the Publications application, you can’t use it to help promote your material and build your expertise. 

SlideShare is a great way to exhibit your presentation skills and can add to building your brand.

TripIt might look good but you might not want to tell the world that you are away on a 2 week mission trip to China.  (Notice I didn’t publish any dates until I’d returned). 

The blog applications can help expose your writings to a larger audience, but be sure your blog aligns with your LinkedIn objectives. 

Finally, don’t use every possible application so you don’t dilute your message, unless you have a specific purpose like I did, and you don’t believe it will hurt your overall strategy.

LinkedIn Answers

The reason to use LinkedIn answers may be a little tougher to define.  Unless you have great answers and believe others will “vote” for your answers, and you feel being tagged as having the “best answers” in a category will help your strategy, then you probably don’t need this one.  If you want to do research and collect other’s insights and opinions, then this might be a good option for you to consider.

LinkedIn’s resume building tool

LinkedIn has built a good tool to help you put a good resume together, but having an experienced resume writer help you focus your resume and choose the right words is invaluable.  This is a tool that’s probably only valuable to those looking for employment.

Status

A status update is a great way to share what you are working on or an article of interest.  Your status should still be considered part of your overall strategy.  When we were planning on our China mission trip, I changed my status to “preparing to present our deliverance program in China”.  That let my connections know what I’m up to, it let new viewers know that we do mission trips, and reminded viewers that we do deliverance training.  I did not include dates as I didn’t want to advertise that I was away from home for several weeks.

If your connections frequently view their network updates, they will see your status change and might even want to help you or support you.  Of course if your status updates are trivial and you constantly tell people what you are thinking or doing, the extra information might detract from your brand or even your credibility.  Those kinds of updates are better left to your “personal” facebook page.

Contact Information

Be sure to include contact information, especially if you are looking for employment.  I’d usually recommend a professional email address from one of the free services like Gmail from Google, Live from Microsoft, etc.  By professional, it should not include nicknames or cute titles; this is a professional networking site, stick with your name.  If you use your current employer’s email and you leave, you could miss some messages until you remember to go into LinkedIn and update your address.  I’d also recommend including any possible email address that someone might use to invite you as a connection.  LinkedIn allows multiple email addresses and you can choose the ‘primary’ address that you want LinkedIn to send you notices on.  Including all your common email addresses keeps you from inadvertently starting several LinkedIn profiles by accident.

Miscellaneous Notes

Who are You Connected to – Under Settings, you should consider letting your connections see who you are connected to.  This is a good way of finding lost friends, and it is rarely abused if your connections are the right ones. 

Who Viewed my Profile – Under Settings, you can choose to totally hide, give only company and title, or tell exactly who you are when you view someone’s profile.  I’ve received some great invitations just by letting people see that I looked at their profile, and I’ve invited several people that I noticed viewed my profile.

Other Social Media – Don’t fall victim to believing no one will look at your facebook personal page, so what you post (or allow others to post) won’t detract from your professional brand.

When will my LinkedIn Profile and my On-Line image be Optimized?

The quick answer is it will never be, because your life focus changes, LinkedIn and the on-line community changes.  The good news is you have started.  In today’s society and culture, we no longer use phone books to find businesses and ministries, so your internet presence is a critical factor to your success and growth.  Most people learn by making mistakes and correcting them, not getting it right the first time and possibly not even realizing it was right.  Linked4Ministry’s goal is to give you what I’ve learned (some from my own mistakes) and help you get up to speed quickly so you can truly “extend your reach into the kingdom”.

As always, thank you for reading Linked4Ministry.  If you are new here, the best way to receive all the new posts is to subscribe for e-mail updates at the top right.  If you have been following Linked4Ministry and find it helpful, please consider sharing it with other ministry partners that it could benefit.  It’s easy to do by clicking on the following buttons, and it’s OK to click more than one !

Blessings,
Bill Bender
Anothen Life Ministries

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