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Many CEOs I speak with have either all but abandoned their LinkedIn profiles or are so high profile they don’t bother with LinkedIn, so as to minimize their exposure.

Other CEOs, however, are very active on LinkedIn, and they reap much benefit from it. LinkedIn allows them to leverage their industry niches and geographic markets, attract top talent, and draw potential opportunities to themselves, including high-level speaking engagements, investments, board and advisory inquiries, and CXO career opportunities.

You don’t have to be incredibly active on LinkedIn to benefit from having a profile. Here are a few key tips for optimizing LinkedIn to expose yourself to your market:

Think of LinkedIn as a Database

Your connections are a way to enlarge your database. Understand that if you are outside of a headhunter’s first, second, or third degree of connection, you will not show up in their search results when they use LinkedIn to look for someone like you!

Thus, one of the best things you can do is reach out and connect with your market. For my own profile, it is not important that I personally or professionally know my connections. What is important is that the connection is a CXO executive, which is representative of my ideal client. Because I work globally, I accept connections from VPs, directors, and C-level executives from around the world.

Optimizing Your Own Profile

How do you apply this advice to optimizing your own profile? Here is an example:

Let’s say you are a CEO for a company that manufactures ships. Your specialty is luxury crafts, such as yachts. LinkedIn is a perfect channel through which to find and connect with your niche. You can connect with others in your industry (including your competition) or those in the periphery of your world. Now, you have an audience of likeminded executives in your portal of connections. This audience might also include:

  1. Industry associations
  2. Industry conferences
  3. Marine media, magazines, etc.
  4. Recruiters who specialize in the marine/yacht/manufacturing industry
  5. Private equity groups that include marine manufacturers in their investment portfolios

Simple searches on LinkedIn and LinkedIn groups will reveal these valuable individuals, groups, associations, recruiters, conferences, and companies.

Making the Connection

You may be wondering how to connect with people once you have found them on LinkedIn. It’s quite simple. Here are a couple of examples of what I say when I send my invites:

Hi John,

You and I are in XYZ group together, and I wanted to invite you to join my network.

Or:

Hi John,

I am actively expanding my local [or industry] LinkedIn connections, and I want to invite you to join my network.

By creating a LinkedIn profile and building your connections consistently over time, you will make yourself more findable — which may attract more partnership and employment opportunities your way. You will also be able to use your LinkedIn profile to source talent more quickly, provided you connect to the relevant talent pools.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford founded and operates the No. 1 online executive resume writing service for VP to CXO executives worldwide (maryelizabethbradford.com).



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