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How to use LinkedIn to promote your side business

LinkedInWith 150-200 million users, and 2.7 million business pages, LinkedIn is irresistible to the business owner, and has fast become the quickest way to connect with potential clients and customers.  For the side business owner, however, creating a profile on LinkedIn creates a great challenge: You cannot control who sees your profile.

As a side business owner, privacy is a chief concern.  Do you let your side business clients know about your full time job? Do your boss/co-workers need to know about your side business? Much of LinkedIn is public, meaning, unlike Facebook, anyone can search your profile – from within LinkedIn, and from search engines like Google.

To an extent, in my opinion, the lack of multiple profiles reveals a bias in the way we perceive work and how people generate income. Until LinkedIn allows multiple profiles, or allows you to choose who sees your profile, side business owners have to devise different solutions.

HR Bartender suggests to focus on just one profile.  Figure out which business is more likely to get results from LinkedIn, and create a profile for that alone.  For instance, if you have a real estate business as well as consulting, determine which business you’re more likely to generate clients from via LinkedIn.

Other suggestions include:

  1. Decide how much to reveal on LinkedIn.  If you’re choosing to focus on your side business, don’t refer to your job.
  2. Create a company profile instead of a personal profile.
  3. Cultivate contacts completely outside of your job. Those you choose to link to should be people you meet in connection with your side business, and not your job.
  4. Consider using a variation of your name.

Whatever you do, do not include everything you do on your profile.  HR Bartender also suggests that you could tie your two profiles together.  For example, demonstrate how being a real estate professional helps you become a better consultant.  Sometimes in a side business, both fields can be so different, it would be almost ludicrous to try and see similarities between both. In addition, putting everything on your profile can make you look like an unfocused dabbler.

Further reading:

To see how to create a LinkedIn company page that drives sales, click here.

View the Undercover Recruiter’s infographic on how LinkedIn has helped business owners.

Let us know what you think!