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Guest Article | What Can LinkedIn Do For You?

Last updated: 17 Jun 2024 09:00 Posted in: AIA

Would you like a steady stream of new clients reaching out to you on LinkedIn to buy your accounting services? Or how about new team members queuing to work with you?

This is the true story of how I grew my personal brand by using LinkedIn to get clients. It even meant that I was paid by Accountex to run their podcast, as well as hosting their LinkedIn Lounge at the world’s biggest Accounting Exhibition.

It’s a story of how one normal guy created a personal brand and grew his business by using LinkedIn. By following my method you too can grow your business and create a name for yourself.

Getting to grips with LinkedIn

You may well look at LinkedIn and think, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t do that.’ Or decide that it’s just too complicated. It probably makes you have some or all of the following thoughts:

  • What will people say when they see me?
  • I can’t think of anything to write.
  • I’ve got to take lots of photos.
  • Who cares what I think?

There are a million reasons why we don’t do anything on LinkedIn or other forms of social media. But when I started my business, I ended up becoming a LinkedIn coach by accident. And here I am, three years later, writing for International Accountant! I pinch myself because I never though

I’d get anywhere like this. I never thought I’d be ‘famous’ in the accounting space.

The key factor in this whole journey has been consistency.

It was all because of LinkedIn. It was because I ‘got out’ there and did something a little bit different. LinkedIn is an amazing place to grow your personal brand and find business. There are many people on LinkedIn – at the last count it was over a billion members, which means that you can reach all kinds of people. You will be able to find your target audience there, including some businesses you wouldn’t think of – all making connections, creating content and engaging professional services.

Being human means that we’re interested in other people. When was the last time that you sat in a cafe just people watching? LinkedIn is a fantastic place to spark our curiosity, connect with people, make friends, and buy and sell our products and services.

The LinkedIn philosophy

The philosophy that I share when showing people how best to use LinkedIn is to treat the platform as one great big networking meeting. We have all been to networking meetings where we connect with people. We turn up, say hello and spark up conversations with new people. A week or month later, we go again to say hello to the same people and meet a few new ones. Rinse and repeat.

This was the traditional way that we grew our networks and businesses. Before long, you end them. And here’s the thing: people buy from people who they know, like and trust. It’s no different with LinkedIn. I have been using it to build up that ‘Know, Like and Trust’ for the last five years.

When I set my business up accidentally in April 2021, I was starting from nothing. Since then I’ve grown from strength to strength. I’ve worked with many different people – corporations, individuals and group settings – to help them with their LinkedIn strategy.

So what have I done to get this far? I create content and comment on other people’s posts. And my profile is optimised and fully accessible. This means that when you find me, you can see exactly what I do. There’s no rocket science about LinkedIn, or any social media for that matter. My key advice to anyone wanting to use LinkedIn is consistency and authenticity.

The only thing that I tell people is to be yourself. You should be unapologetically yourself. Do whatever you do in real life on LinkedIn. Don’t adopt a different persona. If you meet me in real life, you are seeing the very same Ashley Leeds as you do on LinkedIn. And that’s all you need to do. It’s that easy.

Consistency is key

I show up regularly. Because I’ve been doing this for a while, I create content every single day. (Note: you do not need to create content every day!). I post my content around 6.30am because that works for me – not because it’s the best time to post. You decide when the best time for you to post would be.

Commenting is currency

The other thing that I do every single day is comment on other people’s posts. When you’re scrolling on LinkedIn, you will see lots of different types of content to read, watch and engage with. With so much information available, the content is very rich. People offer advice, helpful tips, ideas that you may not have thought of or a twist on something that you’re a specialist in. But it’s content that makes you think.

By commenting on this content, people will start to react. You’re adding your personality, so people can see exactly who you are. And if you comment on a post which has attracted comments by a hundred other people, they will all get a notification that you’ve added a comment too. That’s potentially a whole new audience for you.

Those people may just revisit the post to see if you agree or disagree with them. They might engage too. They could click on your name and visit your profile. If they like the look of you, they may even send you a connection request. Just by adding a comment, you will have made a new connection – perhaps somebody who will refer business to you or who buy your services.

Comments are the currency on LinkedIn, so make sure that you’re commenting and not just liking. Would you stick your thumb up to somebody in real life if they offered a piece of advice? No. You’d get into a conversation. This is where the magic lies on LinkedIn.

Profile optimisation

The other thing you need to do on LinkedIn is to make sure that your profile is optimised.

One of the things I talk about in my training is the four mistakes that we all make on LinkedIn:

  1. a poorly optimised or outdated profile photo;
  2. a banner (cover photo) that doesn’t ‘sell you’;
  3. a headline that is bland and generic; and
  4. contact details that are vague.

1. Your profile photo

People buy from people who they know, like and trust. I know I keep saying that, but we need to see a photo where you are being open and being yourself. We need to see you looking at the camera and smiling.

We also need to be able to see you on our phones! When viewed on a mobile phone, the image can be as small as 4mm. I’m not going to be able to see you if you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Make sure you fill that circle with your face and put a bold colour behind you so that you stand out out – perhaps it’s a good opportunity to use your brand colours to help with marketing!

2. Your background photo

Your background photo (or your banner, as I like to call it) is a bit of real estate that you can use to tell people exactly what you do. An abstract photo or the view from your window really isn’t going to do that. Write some words in that banner so that people know exactly what you do. Make sure you write them big enough so that they can read it on your mobile phone – on my mobile phone, your banner will be only 6.5cm big!

3. A headline that works

The other thing that people forget to do is have a decent headline. That’s the bit that is underneath your name and by default is your job title. But ‘Chartered Accountant at XYZ & Co’ doesn’t jump out. You need to be more than just your job title. Be different. For example, I call myself the 15-minute guy. This sparks curiosity which means people click on my link and visit my profile. They see my happy smiley face, they see my banner and they know straight away exactly what I do.

4. Contact Details

Finally, the last thing that we all get wrong is our contact details. So many people I speak to do not have a phone number on their contact details. I’ve just seen your great content on LinkedIn. I want to speak to you because you sound great fun or as if you’d be a perfect fit as my accountant. But if I can’t phone you, what am I going to do?

Also, in the contact details there is space for three websites. Please use them and insert a calendar link so that somebody can book a meeting with you. Or you could include a testimonials page, a site where you’ve written a white paper, your blog page or your YouTube channel.

Some final thoughts

When are you going to start on LinkedIn and make it work for you? If you do, it won’t be long before you too have a steady stream of people coming to you for accountancy services or to work with you.

Author biography

Ashley Leeds is the unstoppable 15-Minute Guy! As a business coach, he empowers business owners to become sales and marketing savvy. He has created the LinkedIn Daily Habit Workshop and teaches LinkedIn on stage, through webinars, YouTube and podcasts. If you want to find out more, or share your thoughts with, please connect with him on LinkedIn. More information is available on his website also.

"Being human means that we‘re interested in other people. You should be unapologetically yourself. Do whatever you do in real life on LinkedIn."

Ashley Leeds, Founder of Full Cup Coaching