Have you wondered about what LinkedIn can do for you as a powerful lead generator? One of the most important things you need to do is create a profile that will entice people to your services or products. A boring, resume-looking profile will not do the trick. Furthermore, your profile must be complete. If you go to a networking event and someone later looks you up on LinkedIn (and they will!), what will they see?

Here are some tips to help you create a LinkedIn profile that will generate sales leads:

• Post a current business photo. It could be you giving a presentation or your headshot in business attire. Remember that every major corporation has a presence on LinkedIn. Further, LinkedIn is also home to small and medium-sized businesses and independent consultants all over the world. Your business photo, like everything else, reflects your professional brand.

• Be specific, but compelling, about what you do. One of the first things people will see in your profile is what you do. After your name comes the keywords that identify your work. If you are the vice president for sales at Coca-Cola, that is pretty well understood. If, on the other hand, you are a sales rep, you want to draw people in with a message that engages them and propels them to find out more about you and your company versus the other guys. Think like your potential customer.

What pain are they feeling in their business? What problems are they trying to solve that would cause them to search out specific keywords that then lead them directly to you? Take a look at the screen shot above to see how I've described myself. Think of your header as your three-second tagline. Whenever you post in group discussions or answer questions, your “profile badge” appears with your critical keywords listed right alongside your name. That is why the right descriptive words are so important. If people notice your comments and like them, perhaps they will want to connect with you. You want to make it easy for them to understand what you do. Most folks will not invest a lot of time perusing your profile. Capture interest quickly and give them a reason to want more.

• Make yourself shine in the Summary section of LinkedIn. Here you can specify the value your opportunity or service might bring to someone reading about you. Read other people’s summary statements to get an idea. Note mine above is divided into these parts: (1) Header or hook (2) What I offer bring to any organization (3) Why I'm on LinkedIn (4) Highlights in my career, including her writing and speaking awards (5) My specialties. Be sure to make this section interesting, crisp, and inviting.

• Use SlideShare. Using the SlideShare application enables you to post up to four PowerPoint presentations on your LinkedIn profile. Not only can you use SlideShare presentations to showcase your work, but you can also increase your search visibility inside the LinkedIn community as well as on the World Wide Web.

• Check your ratings and recommendations. Your LinkedIn profile also displays when you have received an “expert” rating on your responses to questions. It shows the people you have recommended and highlights recommendations that you have received from others.

• Update your profile twice a week. At a minimum, update your status several times a week. Be strategic in your status updates. Let people know what you are doing, but also use updates to highlight and promote the work of others. For example, if you have just attended a conference and enjoyed what the speaker had to say, compliment that person in your status update. If you are a sales rep and you just landed a big deal, post your good news without naming the company. Keep in mind that each time you update your profile, LinkedIn alerts your network. It is a subtle way to maintain visibility within the LinkedIn community.

• Limit highly personal information. LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to add your marital status and birthday. This is new to LinkedIn and clearly an attempt to look more like Facebook. For a professional profile, this information is unnecessary. It is not likely that LinkedIn professionals will send you birthday greetings like people do on Facebook.

• Be selective in the groups you join. Your profile also includes a list of the groups you belong to. Your group membership says a lot about you. Do not join any group that invites you. Join groups that fit your sales niche and actively participate in those groups.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Curtis is the CEO for Total Communications Coach http://www.TotalCommunicationsCoach.com. She has done leadership training and consulting for over 20 years. Last year she published, Managing Sticky Situations at Work http://www.managingstickysituationsatwork. In it she creates a new model of communication called the Say It Just Right Model. Her newest book was released by Praeger Press in September 2010, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. Both can be ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Check out the blog http://www.salescommunicationscoach.com