Last week we shared some insight into how to create your best social media profile and today we would like to hone in on a steadfast platform that offers a distinctive opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert – LinkedIn. 

If you have ever found yourself wondering if you need a LinkedIn profile even though you deal directly with consumers, the answer is 100% “Yes, you do!”. Known for its networking value, this social media platform serves to showcase your professional side that conveys to prospects why they should choose you as their preferred travel advisor.

Take a glance at some of the reasons why it is highly recommended to have an effective LinkedIn presence: 

  • Google and other search engines value your LinkedIn profile over all other social media platforms
  • It helps build your personal brand—Your profile picture and bio set the tone for your professional online brand
  • Build trust and influence and position yourself as a thought leader in the industry by uploading articles and presentations you have created
  • Stand out against the rest—when someone “Googles” you (and you know they will) your LinkedIn profile will give you an instant professional edge against your competitors
  • Bragging rights—colleagues can endorse your skills with the click of a button
  • You’ll find the most influential companies on LinkedIn and can follow them for their latest updates and reports and keep up with latest trends
  • The best companies recruit via LinkedIn

Here is a breakdown of the LinkedIn profile, from top to bottom, with specific comments, tips and even suggested links to be added to your LinkedIn profile and to each of the profiles of the travel advisors in your agency. 

  • Profile Image: This should be a professional photo (only you). Do not leave the profile photo blank or use an unprofessional/group photo. Headshot images with a neutral background are best. 

  • Headline/Tagline: In this section you have 120 characters to feature a clear and concise headline. Keywords are especially important here. It should include your area/location and your professional title (with key industry terms - ie. Travel, Cruise, Honeymoon - when relevant). 

  • Summary:This section features up to 2,000 characters of text to showcase your professional experiences, goals and objectives. Keywords again are extremely important here. Detail past titles/positions you have held and mix in key terms from the industries in which you have worked. It is especially important to use key terms related to your travel business (i.e. travel agents, travel technology, hospitality, travel industry) when appropriate. 
    Tip: Include bullets, paragraphs and sub headers to break up your summary copy. End with links or handles to your other professional social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Reference blogs or third-party web addresses to showcase your experience and make your profile more credible. 

  • Professional Experience: Itemize your past experience by leading with your role/position and results/outcomes. Do not simply list your responsibilities, but instead show what you have accomplished and how by using key words, hyperlinks and supporting materials. Use bullets and the tools LinkedIn provides, such as: the upload images function, the option to connect with the pages for these companies, etc.)  
    Tip: All of your company’s profiles should link to your business website, with logo and company description. 

  • Skills & Endorsements: You get to choose the skills and endorsements that appear here.  
    Tip: All of the profiles of your company’s team members should endorse each other for the core skills relevant to each employee. 

  • Recommendations: This is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations add to your credibility. The best and only way to grow this section of your profile is to personally ask for recommendations from previous colleagues. 
    Tip: The individual profiles of your company’s team members should all have at least one recommendation from a current colleague. 

  • Groups: Focus on a core set of targeted LinkedIn groups to join. It should be a manageable number because the best way to make the most of this is by engaging and interacting with these groups. This means posting to the group wall, liking/commenting on other posts and generally engaging with other group members.  

    Example groups for Travel Advisor members to join: Travel & Tourism Industry Professionals Worldwide; Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Group; Social Media in Travel; Travel Media Pros; TravMedia; groups related to your specific specialty; and groups from your college/university, including alumni groups. 

  • Education: This section is fairly self-explanatory. All information requested should be filled-in completely. 
    Tip: There are LinkedIn Alumni Association groups that you should join. You will not be able to do so unless the education portion is fully listed on your profile. 

  • Projects: Dependent upon each individual’s current position/roles. If there is something that would benefit your travel agency or the company’s SEO, then the project would be appropriate to include. 

  • Following:
    • Influencers: Select key influencers you look up to and/or are in the travel/cruise industry or other niche channels such as destination weddings, honeymoons, LGBTQ, educational travel, etc.
    • Companies: Follow companies you are interested in or that relate to your industry/field. Examples include cruise/travel industry companies you work with and related media outlets (websites, magazines, trade publications, blogs, etc.). Also, be sure to follow your own company’s LinkedIn business page (make sure you have one). 

As a final note to remember… after you have created the best LinkedIn that puts your best foot forward, make sure to share it! Add your profile link to your email, website, and other social media to maximize your positive exposure and gain the clout you are looking for!