It's Time to Link Up with LinkedIn
By Jean Kelley
Mention the phrase "social media" and most people automatically think of Facebook and Twitter. But if you have any dealings in the corporate world-whether you're a CEO, salesperson, human resource manager, administrative assistant, or anything in between-you'll want to take a closer look at LinkedIn. You will find it a useful tool to make your business relationships more meaningful and more profitable.
Before you dismiss the idea of using LinkedIn because you only know it as
that "bland" social media site where people go when they're looking for a
job, realize that currently there are 90 million LinkedIn users worldwide.
One new user joins every second of every day. And unlike social media sites
like Facebook where many people use the site for entertainment, all
LinkedIn users are business minded. That means the connections you develop
on LinkedIn are more likely to positively impact you or your company in some
way. Therefore, if you want better or more professional business
relationships, LinkedIn is the place to be. Even if you have a business
profile on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn makes a perfect addition to your
personal or business branding efforts.
An Essential Business Resource
The key to making LinkedIn work for you and your company is to use the site
regularly. That means posting something, either an update or a
question/answer, every seven days at a minimum. Why? Because the more you
use any social media site, the higher your "Google Juice" will be-in other
words, Google's algorithm will notice your regularity and you'll get a
higher ranking with Google than you would otherwise. Additionally, the more
you interact and post on LinkedIn, the more prominent you'll become within
your network-your name recognition will grow.
Fortunately, staying active in LinkedIn and a regular user is simple when
you understand how LinkedIn can benefit you professionally. Use the
following ideas and suggestions to make the most of your LinkedIn account.
· Show off your skills. It's as easy to set up your profile in LinkedIn as
it is in Facebook. Make sure your profile is well-written and that it
highlights what you currently do, what you have done, your strengths, your
talents, your key attributes, and your education. Remember that people will
access your profile for many different reasons (recruitment, background
information, professional contacts, etc.), so be thorough and always make
your profile public. Since your LinkedIn profile is essentially a dynamic
mini resume, keep it updated, tasteful, and accurate at all times.
Additionally, you have an opportunity to display recommendations for you. As
a point of etiquette, when you ask someone to write a recommendation, you
· Say something meaningful. By posting status updates that contain valuable
content, you show your network that you are a team player and that you care
about other people's success. Remember that status updates are not the place
to advertise your company's products or services, nor is it a conversation
group. A better idea is to share a best practice, announce a seminar/event
you've been to or are going to, or give a quick tip. If you can't think of
anything to post, it's perfectly acceptable to post a meaningful or
motivational quote. The key is to post something interesting and relevant to
your network. And always remember that what you post stays on the Internet
forever. So if you wouldn't want your comment on the front page of your
local newspaper, don't post it on LinkedIn.
· Uncover conversation starters. LinkedIn is a great place to get an inside
glimpse of people. For example, you can look up potential clients or vendors
on LinkedIn and see what kind of books they read, where they went to school,
what their main interests are (based on the groups they belong to), and so
much more. Now you'll have more to talk about when you meet the potential
client, potential vendor, or potential networking friend. Think of LinkedIn
as a gateway to have a professional relationship with someone much quicker.
In fact, some estimates show that by using LinkedIn to research the people
you plan to interact with, you can have a six-month head start on the
· Spot trends and hot topics. There's an amazing amount of real-time
information available on LinkedIn. By being a member of various groups that
interest you, you can see what people are thinking on a certain topic by the
questions they're posting and the responses they're getting. So if you want
to know what the current trends or best practices are in lean manufacturing,
for example, you could join several lean manufacturing groups on LinkedIn
and track each group's activity. You can then use the information you
discover in your own company.
· Get an "in" with top companies. Whether you're looking for new clients,
new vendors, or even a new job, with LinkedIn you can search the companies
you want to work with and see who in your network has connections there. You
can then ask that person-your connection-for an introduction to a decision
maker who can help you. Even if you find that no one in your network has
connections with a particular company, perhaps someone in one of your groups
works there. That's why it's important to belong to every group that
interests you. Continually build your LinkedIn relationships and make those
key connections before you actually need them. As Harvey Mackay says, "Dig
your well before you're thirsty."
The Missing Link to Your Success
Even though 82 percent of people use some kind of social media regularly,
social media itself-including LinkedIn-is much like the Wild West. It's not
tame yet, and best practices are still being formed. With that said, if
you've spent much of your time on other social media sites and feel they
aren't working for building professional relationships, then it's time to
give LinkedIn a try.
The key to making LinkedIn work is to work it regularly. Commit to spending
at least thirty minutes per day on it, posting your ideas in updates, asking
and answering questions, participating in groups, and reaching out to
potential connections. Yes, it's one more thing to schedule in your
calendar, but by building relationships and gaining new information on
people and topics, it's also something that can make your job easier and
your company better positioned.