March 4, 2015

LinkedIn Profile Tips – When You Wear Multiple Hats

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One question I hear all the time is how do I represent myself and my business on LinkedIn when I have multiple professional interests or a side business? Here are some suggestions.

If the fields you are involved in are related, you may be able to include keywords in your headline that cover all of your pursuits. This is the best of all worlds and I understand that it is usually not that easy.

For example, if you have a job it is difficult to include information about a side business, particularly when your job and business may be in different fields.This brings us to the second option which is to create sections in your Summary for each endeavor. The Summary has 2000 characters of space to use, so you can include a paragraph describing each business and you may even have room for a heading for each section. It is also a good idea to use this space to briefly explain that you have multiple interests and what, if anything, ties them together. This will help minimize confusion when your viewers look at what may appear to be unrelated jobs, businesses or projects.

As with everything, how you approach this issue will be based on your objectives and priorities for using LinkedIn. If a large proportion of your income comes from a single source that is relevant for the LinkedIn audience, then you should focus your profile on highlighting these strengths. You can lightly promote your other pursuits on LinkedIn or rely entirely on other digital properties to promote them as you see fit.

Also keep in mind your audience and their expectations of you. Many professionals today have more than one significant business or project they are involved with, so in many cases those visiting your profile will understand this and not dismiss you as being unfocused when they see more than one business on your profile. On the other hand, if you are a neurosurgeon or involved with highly confidential matters on behalf of clients, you may want to limit the amount of space you devote to talking about other ventures.

Another approach is to use LinkedIn Company Pages to promote the businesses that are not the primary focus of your  LinkedIn profile. You can only have one personal profile on LinkedIn, but you can have multiple Company Pages. These allow you to list basic information about your business along with links to your website or other materials. You can also build a following via your Company Pages such that those following you will receive updates that you post to your Pages. Unlike Facebook Pages, LinkedIn does not (yet) limit the number of your followers who see your posts.

The third alternative is to simply keep your LinkedIn Profile focused on your primary profession and use other properties to promote your other businesses. Again how you go about this depends on the particular business and community served in your secondary pursuits. At a minimum you can list your other business fields in the Interests section on your LinkedIn Profile if you want to lightly promote them or simply indicate that you are involved in these areas.

If you have multiple businesses, what approach has worked for you?

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