LinkedIn is THE most important business networking site there is. The challenge is most people think of it like it’s one of those late night infomercials…you know “set it and forget it.” LinkedIn is like EVERY other networking opportunity there is, for it to succeed it will require some participation on your part.
It is my hope that you will utilize at least a few of these tips that I have drawn up for you so you can understand how this tool will help your business. It’s important to note that I joined LinkedIn back in 2004 and currently have over 5,000 connections. I offered my first LinkedIn training class in late 2005 and have conducted over 100 sessions since then.
I am a very open connector because I believe that connections lead to opportunities and opportunities often require new connections. How you use LinkedIn and for what purpose is entirely up to you. I do suggest that you have a plan in place. If you are looking for some ideas, reach out to me, I’m always happy to help.
Complete your profile- This is your appearance to the outside world. LinkedIn is a buttoned up business kind of place. Even if you spend the majority of your day in sweatpants and bunny slippers, you certainly don’t want to give that impression here.
Add a photo - YOUR picture, not your logo, will humanize you. Job seekers don’t have to worry about being discriminated about due to age. Most HR professionals search profiles with the photos “turned off”.
Create a catchy headline - Use one that helps you stand out from the crowd. Combine who you are with what you do.
Choose your category - LinkedIn provides lots of professional categories from which to choose. Pick the one that best describes you.
Edit your websites to reflect what they are - When entering your 3 websites you have the option to edit them to say more than just “my company,” “blog,” etc. Click “other” and write exactly what you want.
Customize your public profile link - LinkedIn will assign you a “public profile” address. It will have your name and a bunch of random characters. Take a moment and change it to better reflect you.
Put this link in your email signature and invite people to connect with you - This is a great way to add to your network.
Attach your twitter account - LinkedIn makes it easy to share your status updates on Twitter when you attach the two accounts.
Write a meaningful summary - The summary isn’t about your current job. It’s about you. Let your personality shine.
List all of your positions - LinkedIn does a great job of suggesting contacts from your past for you. This also gives you additional opportunities to help others by connecting people who need assistance.
Tell us what you accomplished while there - No sense in leaving this blank. Give us the highlights!
Use the projects feature to give greater detail - This feature allows you to get very specific on your accomplishments.
Ask to be endorsed - LinkedIn makes it easy to ask individuals in your network to endorse you.
Write endorsements for others - Make someone’s day and get a little value for you too. A well written endorsement can speak volumes about the author of it.
Add skills - These are highly searchable and lightly customizable. Make sure you pick those that represent you well.
Share your interests - Also searchable and a great way to connect with others of like-mind.
Focus on business but remember it can be personal too - We like people we perceive are like us. Show us who you are to help us establish common ground more quickly.
Post your educational experience - Another way LinkedIn helps you connect with your past. And it’s important for some to know you’re edumucated.
Add connections - The true power of LinkedIn resides in the numbers. I’m not saying that you have to have 5,000+ connections, but you had better have well over 100. Here are some easy ways to add new ones.
Upload your contacts - This should be step 1. LinkedIn does a great job of protecting your security and an even better job of showing you who you communicate with regularly who are already using the tool.
Get connected through connections - Want to meet someone who is connected to someone with whom you’re connected? Easy. Just ask them to make an introduction (note: an introduction is different than a connection and it is a good starting point).
Add people from groups - Find people in the groups you’re a part of and ask them to connect (groups are discussed in a different section)
Add people via their e-mail address - LinkedIn really wants you to connect with people you already know so they like it if you know their e-mail address. Use that address and send them an invite. It’s that easy.
Add them as a friend - This is the “open” way to connect with most anyone. Be careful using this with closed networkers you don’t know especially with the generic invite. These people will be inclined to report you with an “I don’t know.” Get too many of these and LinkedIn will suspend your invite privileges.
Join groups - Groups are sectioned off areas where people with like minds or like experiences can connect and share on a deeper level. Groups can be the best place for you to find your next whatevertheheckyou’relookingfor.
Find ones where your clients are - Great way to get connected to people who are like your clients.
Find ones that are industry specific - Excellent opportunity to stay current in your industry.
Post relevant content in them - Posting content is one form of participation. There is little sense in being part of the group without participating.
Respond to content there you find important - A much easier way to participate. Make sure your comments represent you and your brand well.
Can’t find a group you like? Create one - It’s one thing to be a member of the group. It’s something totally different to be the center of it.
Invite friends and colleagues to it - A group of one sucks, plain and simple.
Ask them to do the same - Why even have a group if it’s just a bunch of people you already know?
Share content there too - Still gotta participate even if it’s your group.
Add your Linkedin group to your email signature - People + People = more people
Company pages - These are the opportunity to showcase your business. One of the best parts is that in addition to being able to have your company represented, GOOGLE loves this section just like they love your own profile. Be sure to get that good Google juice for your business by filling this out.
Start at the VERY beginning…do you have one? If not, figure out who is going to set it up. Smart money is on marketing and having HR being one of the admins of the page.
Tell your corporate story concisely. Consider it like your bio. LinkedIn will walk you through this.
Share your career opportunities (part of the reason HR gets invited to the party)
Determine what other relevant content you will share here and at what rate of frequency it will be shared.
Make sure your employee’s profiles use the same name as your company page so they can cross-link each other.
Invite friends and connections to “follow” your company. Use employee status updates, groups you’re a part of, other social sites and even your e-mail signatures to further spread the word.
Follow the BUZZ that’s being generated about your company whenever it is mentioned. This is a great way to let other people toot your horn for you.
Search If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times…this IS THE MOST IMPORTANT feature of LinkedIn. In fact, I truly believe that if Facebook understood search half as well as LinkedIn does, LinkedIn wouldn’t exist. The ability to find and be found in a business context is pure gold!
Do a search on the things you want to show up for. Do you show up on page 1?
Try searching for people you’re looking to meet. Can you find the CFO at your favorite prospect? You can search by company, by title, by industry…by so many things. Mess around with this function.
Make sure the drop down is on people and click the advanced button on the right. If you upgrade your membership, you can narrow your search even further. This may or may not serve you well.
In addition to more narrow searches enhanced membership levels get to see more results and get full names on 3rd degree connections. See, membership does have its privileges
LinkedIn added the ability to search status updates in about March of 2011. This is important because you see what people are talking about right now. You can search companies to find the businesses with whom you want to connect. It’s also a nice way to find many, if not all, of their employees in one place.
The job search function could be its own article. Let’s just say there isn’t a better place to search for jobs than on LinkedIn. They did a brilliant thing when they partnered with the Simply Hired. They show many great jobs all the time.
Search groups to find the right ones for you. As mentioned in the groups section of this discussion you will find groups from your alma mater and past employers to groups about hobbies, interests and industry events. If you’re looking for it, they likely have it. If they don’t, consider starting it!
Other things- There are a handful of other things that are worth noting and probably another bunch that I have overlooked. What can I say, I had to be done writing this at some point.
LinkedIn today- It’s basically your little magazine subscription (the cool kids call it an RSS reader).
Setup the information you would like delivered right to your LinkedIn homepage. Like Harvard Business Review? It’s there. Want to follow Automotive news? You can!
In fact there are 41 different types of feeds for you to choose from. Get bored of one, switch it out for another.
When you find an article that interests you, share it with your connections. They’ll be glad you did and you will have another opportunity to get in front of them to stay top of mind.
Answers- These are a great way to survey your network, do a promotion about your business or simply gain new knowledge.
You can choose to select people who are your 1st degree connections or kick it out to the larger network as a whole.
Categorize your question based on topic. The more focused you get it, the more likely you will get real, relevant answers. People troll the “answers” section looking for the opportunity to give answers and receive the highly coveted “best answer” designation.
Spend some time answering questions in your area of expertise. You may be able to help someone AND get yourself a big star for the day (not kidding…best answers actually receive a star).
What would you add to this list? Even better, how many of these tips are you utilizing or about to be?
Terry Bean is a nationally recognized networking expert and founder of Networked, Inc. and Motor City Connect. To learn more great networking strategies and techniques, click HERE to order Terry's book, The Universal Guide to Business Networking, available now from HMSI Publishing in Plymouth, Michigan.
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