LinkedIn, as you already know, is a social networking platform for professionals. It is no secret, then, that there is business to be found on LinkedIn for companies of many sizes and industries. If you are a small business owner, you may be confused as to whether you should use your company name or personal name for your LinkedIn Profile name. Be confused no more, as I always recommend you use your personal name, and here’s why:
- As mentioned, LinkedIn is a network for professionals, not companies. We’re not talking about Hoovers here; instead of being a database of companies, LinkedIn is a database of people. Professionals are connecting with each other, finding each other and creating new relationships, answering questions, providing advice, etc. If your name is a company name, why would I want to connect with you? What value is there from a social networking perspective of connecting with a business? I realize that, as a business, you want to get some free advertising on LinkedIn, but do this in your profile, not in your name. And you will find that people are not necessarily looking for vendors, so an indirect approach (utilizing Q&A and/or Group Discussion Boards with your expertise, etc.) will establish your credibility better than merely sending out advertisements to all of your connections.
- In general, the more real and genuine you are the more people will trust you. A lot of professionals are still turned off by social networking, and are especially leery of their privacy on social media. If you, with a business name, want to connect with someone, they might think suspiciously of you. After all, a business name creates a shield and makes you a little invisible. Social networking is all about being transparent and paying it forward, so drop the shield.
- People buy from people, not companies. Even companies buy from people, because it is the people inside the company making the purchase. If you want to connect with future customers, connect with them from a personal perspective, in which case you’ll have a much higher potential of winning business from them.
My brother, who owns his own wine label, is an example of someone who created a profile using his name (Larry Schaffer) and not his company name (Tercero Wines). As you can see from his profile, he includes enough information on his profile to get you interested in his company without flat-out advertising it. And thus people who would want to connect with Larry would naturally want to know more about his wine label, don’t you think?
If you are a business owner and you want to register your company name on LinkedIn, instead of using your company name for your profile name you can simply register your name in the LinkedIn Company Directory. In this way, if people are searching for companies with your expertise, you can be found.