LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for professional and business purposes. (Based on the amount of email I got from my recent post, 10 Ways to Generate More Leads and Referrals on LinkedIn, many people agree.)

One reason for its popularity is that getting found by people on LinkedIn is really easy. Getting found by and connecting with the right people is a lot harder, especially if you only apply website- and resume-building strategies to creating your personal and business LinkedIn profiles.

For example, the Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a great way to find out how many people search for various keywords. Lots of people use it or similar tools to create their LinkedIn profiles. All you have to do is perform a little keyword research and pack your profile with search-friendly terms so potential connections and clients can find you.

Fine. But tons of people use the same approach to determine how to describe themselves and their businesses. That means every recruiter, for example, shoehorns six-figure searches per month keywords like "staffing," "recruiting," "hiring," "jobs," "staffing agency," etc. into their profiles.

And by doing everything "right," they get lost in all the keyword noise.

What can you do to stand out and help the right connections find you?

  1. Use popular keywords to build the backbone of your profile for a general audience.
  2. Include specific, highly targeted keywords to stand out for a specific audience.

Here's an example. I worked in book manufacturing and have significant (another way of saying I'm old) experience in productivity, quality, and efficiency improvement. Pretend I want to build a consulting business around those skills and I want my LinkedIn profile to help book manufacturers find me.

Using the Google keyword tool approach, I should definitely include keywords like process improvement, productivity, efficiency, and quality. I should also include keywords like Six Sigma, 5S, TQM... commonly searched for processes and programs that I can deliver.

The problem is, those keywords don't help me stand out from all the other efficiency experts. Some potential clients will find me, and that's great, but many I'm sure to miss. And, again, I won't stand out. I'll be like every other process improvement consultant.

So now I'll go deeper. Now I'll identify keywords specific to the book manufacturing industry. Here are a few categories I'll mine:

Industry processes.

Conventional wisdom says including industry-specific and esoteric jargon on websites and promotional literature is a mistake. In this case the rule doesn't apply, especially if you hope to connect with B2B customers.

For example, in book manufacturing the word "makeready" is used to refer to a job changeover. No one in the industry searches for "changeover reduction," but "makeready reduction" is perfect. I could go farther and also include "zero makeready," since some printing and binding equipment is described that way (whether accurately or not.)

Think about specific processes in your field and include a few key examples in your profile.

Industry terms.

Books eventually have pages, but before book blocks get trimmed those pages are called signatures or "sigs." Cases, jackets, super, headbands... all are terms specific to book manufacturing.

In the B2B world this is especially important; if I'm in the environmental cleanup business, "brownfields" means something even though the average consumer would never consider using it as a search term.

Equipment names.

Are you familiar with manufacturers like Kolbus, Mueller-Martini, or Timsons? You probably aren't, unless you're in the book business.

Include industry-specific equipment in your profile to not only create long-tail keyword possibilities but also to reinforce your expert status.

Company names.

Shameless name-dropping is one thing, highlighting experience with industry-leading companies is another. I worked for R.R. Donnelley, so including the company in my profile not only makes it more searchable, it also serves as a credibility-enhancer and a potential, "Hey, I worked for RRD too," bridge builder.

Consider including names of companies you've worked for, done business with, provided products or services to... both to highlight your experience and accomplishments and to provide additional search fodder.

Remember: the key is to build your profile in two stages. First focus on a general audience. By all means use Google keyword tool-friendly search terms so you cast a wide net.

Then go deeper. Consider your specific skills and experience. Think niche. Think targeted. Include some keywords industry insiders might use when searching LinkedIn profiles.

While some of your niche keywords may only attract a few potential customers every month, those who do find you that way are much more likely to become great connections.

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