Ken Burgin

LinkedIn for Restaurants

Make LinkedIn More Effective: for Chefs, Restaurant Managers & Owners

Want to be taken seriously as a professional? A good LinkedIn profile is essential, and this means more than just dumping your CV into a new location. LinkedIn for Restaurants, Cafes and Foodservice can be a powerful marketing channel.

People who want to know more about you for a job, as a referee or even for a presenting opportunity will always Google your name. Your LinkedIn profile will appear high up on the first search page, and usually influences their opinion. Use these 3 steps to boost your Linkedin profile and impact: build a complete and professional profile; grow your circle of connections; and increase your influence by sharing quality content. Each of the terms used below eg ‘Summary’ refer to the heading you will see when you edit your profile.

1. Improve your LinkedIn Profile as a Restaurant Owner, Manager or Chef

Update your Photo – no cheap selfies or party shots! If you need a new photo, use ‘portrait photo’ mode on your phone, and get someone to take it in bright, flat light, to avoid shadows eg in a room facing a window. If you want to go further, professional portrait photos can be done at relatively low cost – get a few done, maybe also with family or partner You can also add a horizontal banner photo up the top of your profile – use a favourite picture of hospitality or a travel location. I use one of a beachside beer garden 😉

Use ‘Keywords’ in your Headline. This is more than just your job title, which is listed separately as ‘Current Position’. Use words in the Headline that people search for (keywords), and make it descriptive Eg not just Head Chef, but ‘Head Chef with 20 years experience in fine dining, gourmet catering and casual bistros’ – you can use up to 120 characters.

Expand the Summary – show your enthusiasm for work, and what you’ve learned about the industry. This is where you show how you can help people. Have at least 3 paragraphs in this very important section. If you find it hard to write about yourself, ask a friend to assist. Write this Summary in the first person eg ‘I have set up new food safety systems’ not ‘She set up new food safety systems’ – this is more personal and real. See examples here of effective Headlines and Summaries. Include some numbers to add credibility eg ‘supervised a team of 12 chefs, serving more than 2000 customers each week’. Or ‘we took our annual sales from $1.5 million to $2.4 million in 18 months’.

Add some personal details to round out your image eg ‘volunteer with trainee baristas at the local refugee centre’, ‘renovating an old timber house in my spare time’, or ‘training with my local team for the 2020 Hockey World Cup’.

Make Yourself Easy to Contact – include your personal email and a relevant phone number, especially if you want to be reached for career opportunities. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, and at least an email is important for credibility.

Expand on Your Experience – add a couple of sentences about each of your previous jobs in the Experience section. As with the Summary, include some numbers to add credibility eg ‘ran a team of 12 people’ or ‘Organised 3 offsite kitchens feeding 600 people every day’. If one position was a particular favourite or a huge learning opportunity, say so!

Add All Your Education – include the location of where you trained. Include any short, relevant courses eg a Food Safety Certificate. If you speak additional languages, include those as well – a bonus. Also add any other languages that you speak.

Add Links to Relevant Websites or Social Media – the website of your workplace, or your food-related Instagram site. Maybe you contribute to an events or hospitality blog – if it adds to your reputation, add it.

Update Privacy & Security Settings – this is simple to do, and offers a lot of options. You’ll find them listed under your Profile picture on a PC/Mac browser, or under the little cog that’s top right on the phone or iPad app.

2. Connect with more Restaurant, Cafe or Foodservice people who are on Linkedin

Once you have a good professional profile, you’re ready to reach out to build your list of connections: here’s the 4 ways I’ve been doing it very successfully over the last three years.

It’s about using LinkedIn’s built in networking features to connect with people similar to yourself. Use the search function to find people on your radar eg ‘Chef Newcastle’ or ‘Restaurant Owner Perth’ or ‘Shopping Center Manager Brisbane’ – they are your future connections.

If you’re chasing business connections to be future customers, look for relevant segments to connect with eg ‘Real Estate Geelong’ or ‘Construction Industry Hobart’.

Accept (most) of the connection requests that people send to you, and make time to send a quick ‘Hi, thanks for connecting’ message back. Use Linkedin on your phone to send out at least 20 requests each week – it won’t take long to have a few hundred and then thousands of connections. In my experience, about 30% of people accept your request, so it won’t take long to build a good list.

3. Increase your Profile and Influence on LinkedIn

Sharing photos is the easiest way to post – you can add up to 9 at a time, and 5 will show on the post. Add a sentence or two with a description – opening a new venue, first night of a new menu, refitting the bar or a special celebration. People are fascinated by what goes on in a restaurant or cafe – it’s sure to be noticed! Mention people who are involved, and they will be notified (and appreciative) – do this by adding the @ sign before their name and it connects to their LinkedIn profile.

Share interesting articles you find online, by posting a link. Or share any that appeal on the Linkedin timeline – when you drop in the link, a preview of the article will appear. Add a short comment to personalise it e.g. ‘I believe these 3 kitchen equipment trends will be the top priority for us next year’. When you sound like an authority, people will treat you like one!

Watch and comment on your timeline, and thank people who make a comment on what you post. I see many useful stories related to my interests, and like Facebook, LinkedIn attempts to show you those of most relevance – give them a ‘thumbs up’ or post or a short comment. I’ve made many great connections this way.

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