LinkedIn has grown from a niche business-to-business network to “the jewel of Microsoft’s earnings.”[i] For automotive dealers, having a personal presence on LinkedIn is mandatory. LinkedIn is an important way to humanize your dealership through your personal profile. Building your LinkedIn profile will improve your visibility in the online world and increase the chances that your name appears when people search for dealerships in their area.
Here are five tips to creating the right foundation:
- Include a professional photo. It’s surprising how many professionals on LinkedIn (inside and outside the industry) either lack a photo or use a poorly composed photo (e.g., bad lighting, a blurry image, or a distracting background). Save your family photos for Facebook. A crisp, professional photo belongs on LinkedIn. Use a clear headshot with either a neutral background in your dealership. And certainly do not omit a photo, which is a sign of someone who lacks interest in their profile.
- Embrace the professional summary and your experience. The professional summary and experience sections of your profile perform two different roles. Your summary – the paragraph-length description of who you are and what you do — creates an important first impression. Here is where you should write a powerful narrative about who you are, what you do, and why you love what you do. The experience section is where you should thoroughly list your employment history as you would on a resume. But too often, LinkedIn professionals use their professional summary to list their employment history. Tip: list your employment history in bullet point format where it belongs in the experience section. Use your professional summary to write a great narrative. And don’t sell cars – sell yourself. A poorly written summary full of typos will turn off your visitors and turn away potential customers.
- Post good content. LinkedIn, like Facebook, makes it easy for you to post links to articles, videos, and other content you consume throughout the week. The key is to share links that build your credibility as a knowledgeable professional. For instance, LinkedIn is where you should share updates on news that you’re reading about the automotive industry, such as technology developments affecting the driving experience. On the other hand, you should avoid posting content that, while interesting to you personally, fails to build your brand professionally. Also, if you blog about the industry or contribute columns to publications, make sure you re-post your blog on your profile. A good rule of thumb for posting content: ask whether the content would make someone want to do business with you. Does the content strengthen your reputation as a trusted expert on automotive? If so, share on your profile. Save everything else for other social platforms.
- Get recommendations and endorsements. You know that customer reviews are increasingly important to the auto-shopping experience, and you should certainly include in your profile a link to sites that aggregate customer reviews of you personally. In addition, seek out LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations from your professional colleagues both past and present. Endorsements and reviews from any source build credibility. (Be prepared to endorse and recommend others, too.)
- Network carefully. Once you have your profile complete, start networking by seeking out contacts in your industry. But tread carefully. Don’t attempt to network until you are confident that your profile is complete and has been vetted by someone whose opinion you trust. Stick to people you know. Include a personal message with a friendly greeting that does not talk about vehicles. Be aware that your colleagues might be suspicious of your motive (“they just want to sell me a car”).
Once you start building a network, you will start building trust and interest through the content you share on your feed. When people see you as a valuable source of information about the industry – whether through your own posts or content someone else creates – you will set yourself up as the type of executive someone will contact when they are ready to think about shopping for a vehicle.
[i] Feira Investor, Seeking Alpha, “The Jewel of Microsoft’s Earnings: LinkedIn,” November 1, 2017,