With more than 546 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. The social network has established a solid niche for itself by focusing on workforce needs such as finding new business, searching for jobs and building professional relationships. Plus, if you know the secrets to using it successfully, LinkedIn could be a major revenue generator for your accounting business. Here are seven tips for getting started with optimizing LinkedIn for accountants, CPAs, and bookkeepers.
Optimizing LinkedIn for Accountants
1. Make the Most of Your Profile
Before you start, it’s important to know the purpose behind your profile. First, your profile needs to tell your business story in an attention-getting fashion (think photos, video and infographics). But since LinkedIn, like all social media, is about connections, your profile should also be searchable.
Here are some tips to make your profile searchable:
- Be concise. Remember, you need to grab the reader’s attention right from the start, so the person will keep reading to see if you offer what they’re looking for. Don’t just describe yourself as a CPA. Write, “I am a CPA specializing in luxury real estate.” Forget generic adjectives like “hard-working” that can apply to any type of business. Use current keywords related to your CPA expertise, such as “individual retirement account” or “international accounting standards.” Then make sure to use the same keywords again in the “Skills and Experience” section of your profile.
- Toot your own horn. Be sure to list all your degrees, certifications and professional accomplishments. Even if you’re currently working on a certification or degree and haven’t yet finished, include the information in your summary.
- Name drop. Don’t be shy about listing some of your best clients and their industries. This is especially important if your accounting business specializes in a specific industry or industries.
Also, once you have a profile, you can create a separate Company Page for your business, if you want to keep them separate. If your company name is different from your name, it would be a good idea to have both in case people search for your business.
2. Connect and Then Connect Some More
On LinkedIn, people in your network are called connections. Connections are categorized by degree—first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.
- First-degree connection: There is a direct connection between the two of you because either you have accepted an invitation or the other person has accepted your invitation.
- Second-degree connections: Connections made by contacting connections of your first-degree connections.
- Third-degree connection: Connections made by contacting connections of your second-degree connections.
- Fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups: The two of you are connected only by being a part of the same LinkedIn Group.
- LinkedIn Member: If none of the other categories apply, you can still add another LinkedIn member to your network by sending them a personalized invitation to connect.
LinkedIn for accountants, like all professions, is about building connections—and not just accounting connections. Connect with professionals from different backgrounds and industries who could be potential clients, vendors or business partners. What you do with those connections comes next.
3. Discuss Shared Interests
Once you made a connection, you need to nurture it and build a bond. Discuss trends, learn about new industries, and share your expertise. The more you share and interact on LinkedIn, the more likely a connection is to remember you. Any connection can ultimately lead you to more business opportunities. Want to know more about a person you’ve just connected with? Use the In Common panel of their Profile to view their Following, Groups, and Volunteer Experience & Causes. It’s a great way to find common interests and experiences you can bond over.
4. Stalk Your Competitors
Go ahead and connect with accounting competitors. Not only can you keep an eye on how they are interacting and where they’re getting leads, you can also reach out to their connections to build your own network.
5. Follow LinkedIn Influencers
LinkedIn influencers comprise a global collective of more than 500 of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators. Influencers are selected by LinkedIn and becoming an influencer is by invitation only. Follow influencers in the accounting industry and you’ll be exposed to thought-provoking content, trends and ideas. Plus, you’ll be able to engage with other members via the comments section, which is another way to find connections with similar interests.
6. Engage With LinkedIn Groups
Joining LinkedIn Groups helps your visibility grow exponentially. Be sure to join Groups that clients and potential clients belong to, as well as Groups related to the accounting industry. Type in the Group name or keyword in the search box and click the button. Then select Groups on the left to narrow your search to Groups. Click the Join button for Groups that interest you. Usually, you will be accepted to a Group immediately, but sometimes groups have stricter privacy settings in place. In this case, you’ll need to wait a few days to be approved.
When commenting or posting in a Group, build credibility by providing expertise and sharing valuable insights. Don’t just try to sell your services and promote your business—offer something of value.
Here are a few accounting-related LinkedIn Groups to check out:
- AICPA Tax Practitioners
- Accounting | Finance | Professionals | World Finance Network
- CPA & Business Professional Group
- Marketing for Accountants, CPAs, EAs, Bookkeepers and Tax Professionals
- Tax Professionals
7. Share Content
Content marketing not only helps you increase SEO, it also helps build your expertise and therefore your connections. Post regularly to your company page and/or profile page. The best ways to engage readers with your posts are by mentioning specific people, including photos and/or video, or getting a conversation going by asking for feedback. You should also go beyond just posting advice and information and get a little bit more personal.
LinkedIn suggests the following kinds of personal stories you can share:
- Did you give a talk to a group lately or volunteer somewhere?
- Something you learned lately, maybe from a mentor
- A good book or movie you’ve seen
- Current events
- A productivity hack you’ve discovered
- Your favorite part of your day
- How to achieve work/life balance
You can control who sees your posts and who can’t by using the dropdown menu below the Share box. If your post is set to Public, your post may appear on the home pages of your first-degree connections and the home pages of your second- or third-degree connections if shared, commented upon, or liked by your first -degree connections. It will also appear in content search results, your recent activity page, and your public profile.