When it comes to online reputation management, most people head right to Google for solutions. They look for keywords that could harm them, or articles that contain negative information about them, and they come up with new content that will rank just a little higher in Google search results.
While that could be a winning strategy (particularly for companies under attack), there’s another tool individuals can use to kick up their online cred: LinkedIn.
At the moment, this site has well over 107 million users in the United States alone, according to official LinkedIn statistics, which makes it one of the biggest social media sites out there. That simple fact might make it a good target for reputation work.
But, LinkedIn also has specialized tools that make it ideal for those who want to boost their good name (or those who do rep work for others). Here are five steps to make the site work best.
1. Optimize Your Entry With Keywords
LinkedIn works much like a search engine: Users type in sets of keywords, and the site spits out results accordingly. Using the right keywords makes a profile a little easier to find. And, the right keywords could also help someone to seem a little more professional or credible.
Consider this: A sales professional could include keywords like “honest” or “reasonable” in order to make the job seem a little less slick and a little more palatable. Or, a doctor could use words like “experienced” or “good listener” to help bring in nervous patients. Those keywords help the pros get found, but they also attach a good attribute to that person’s name. Win-win!
Keywords could go anywhere, but as some bloggers suggest, keywords work best in high-impact spots, including:
- Company names
- Job titles
Putting key phrases here is a smart strategy.
2. Do a Little Bragging
It’s hard to write a natural-sounding blog entry or social media post about an award you’ve won or a compliment you’ve received. Plus, posts like this tend to have very little impact, as few people want to read blogs full of boastful comments.
But, LinkedIn actively encourages boasting. There’s an entire section of each profile devoted to awards and recognitions you’ve won. Loading that up with real data could be an excellent way to suggest that you’re good at what you do, and that you can be trusted with future work.
It’s important to resist the urge to lie as you type, however, as LinkedIn also makes it really easy for your contacts to report inaccuracies. By filling out one little form, your enemies could torpedo your attempts at profile dominance. So it’s best to be honest.
3. Make Real Connections
Plenty of bloggers suggest you can connect with “anyone” on LinkedIn, even if you don’t have an in-person relationship, and that doing so could help to kick up your career. The thinking is that reaching out to those you don’t know quite yet is a form of advanced networking that could come in handy, in case you need another job down the line. Connecting could also be handy for reporter types, who need plenty of contacts in order to get good sources on a tight deadline.
When it comes to reputation management, however, I think connections should be limited to those you actually know. Why? Because attempting to connect with people you don’t know personally is sometimes seen as a personal affront. Just ask a Cleveland woman who wrote a scathing response to a stranger who attempted to connect with her on LinkedIn. Fury doesn’t even begin to describe her feelings. This isn’t the kind of response anyone needs when they’re in cleanup mode.
But also, LinkedIn connections are designed to assist with profile building. The people you’re linked to provide endorsements and written recommendations. They respond to posts and share them. They work as a supportive community. When the contacts are all fakes or strangers, that community doesn’t exist, and I think that dilutes the power of LinkedIn.
4. Join Professional Groups
Just because you can’t connect with strangers doesn’t mean you can’t network on LinkedIn. You’ll just need to use a different tool, and groups fit the bill quite nicely.
Groups contain professionals who all share the same kind of work or the same basic set of interests. Interacting with groups allows you to connect with others in the field, who might become connections in time.
But also, each group you’ve joined is listed on your LinkedIn profile page. That means these groups can also boost your reputation. Think of them like another set of keywords that describe what you do and what you’re passionate about. Choose wisely, and you could describe your good points with the right kind of membership.
Data from 2011 suggests the majority of LinkedIn users are in 10 or so groups. Even joining one is a start, but adding up to 10 could be a great way to make reputation work a little easier.
5. Consider Blogging
Earlier this year, a column on SEJ suggested most experts found the LinkedIn blogging feature helpful, particularly for people who work in the B2B sector. I’ve never written there personally, but it’s encouraging to think that this new blogging platform is really working for people who want to share content, and who don’t necessarily want to start a new blog to make it happen.
LinkedIn blogging does come with some dangers, however, as the entries can be shared quickly. That means anything you write here should be specifically designed to make you look good. No curses, no inaccuracies, and no offensive statement -it might be hard to repair the damage.
But even if you don’t blog on LinkedIn, you can use the site to share and amplify the content you’ve written for other sites. Links from a personal blog are easy to share on LinkedIn, as are links to guest posts you might write for other sites. If those posts are optimized with the keywords you’re fighting, and you’re looking for a way to drive more clicks on those posts, LinkedIn could be a great help.
Setting up a profile and joining a few groups isn’t a winning long-term LinkedIn strategy. It takes ongoing work to really make the site tick. That’s when you get the endorsements, engagements, and credibility that translates into lasting reputation management success. It’s something that takes time.
But clearly, LinkedIn has a great deal of power, so it’s worth the effort to utilize all that the site has to offer. And by devoting just a few moments of time each day, it could become an invaluable tool in the fight against an attack.
Have any of you used LinkedIn, either as your own reputation management tool, or on behalf of a client who was facing a problem? I’d love to hear about it. Please share your thoughts in the comments section!
Featured Image: Picography via Pixabay
Screenshot taken December 10, 2014