Are you getting the most out of LinkedIn and its network of over 80 million professionals and more than 12 million small business users?
Build your profile. Keep your goals and objectives in mind when crafting your profile. What do you hope to gain through LinkedIn—customers, new hires, a more expansive online presence? What clients do you want to attract? What niche can you fill? Create a profile that truly represents you and what you do. List current and past positions and education, upload a profile photo, and add a summary paragraph (think of it as your “elevator pitch”).
Connect with others. Start with your established network. Import your address book and see which contacts are already members. Select people you wish to make part of your trusted network. Make it easier for others to find you by adding common misspellings of your name to the bottom of your summary; add a few keywords that coincide with your profession there as well.
Use recommendations. Ask clients and business associates to write a recommendation for you. Recommendations are published on your LinkedIn profile and increase your visibility and credibility. In turn, recommend trusted friends, associates, and vendors to strengthen relationships and further boost your visibility.
Update your status. LinkedIn users update their statuses less frequently than Facebook and Twitter users, so regular weekly updates can increase your visibility. Keep it business professional. Share a completed project, an article or book you’ve read, an area in which you would like advice, a conference you’ve attended, or your interest in hiring new help. Well thought out, timely updates are a plus. You can automatically sync LinkedIn with Twitter and vice versa, but it is best to keep them separate; you may not want everything posted in both places. Instead, strategically share or post specific links from various social media!
Build your network, share your expertise. Who do you want to meet? Seek out new connections and strategically build your network with other business professionals; you can create partnerships, attract clients, recruit employees, seek advice, or discover new vendors. It is also a vehicle through which you can showcase your expertise. Join groups and associations, and become visible in your group. Participate in and start discussions to showcase your knowledge and skills. Groups can provide potential partnerships, business guidance, and timely information.
Share your blog, create an ad! Create links from your profile to your blog and website to feature content to LinkedIn members. For a small fee, you can create short text ads linked to your sites and target those ads to your ideal clients—there are many options to narrow down your target audience, and there are several reporting features to gauge the success of your ads.
Answer and ask questions. In addition to participating in discussions, you can ask and answer questions. When done thoughtfully and professionally, it will boost your visibility and enhance your credibility and online presence.
Create a company page, and follow other companies. In addition to your personal profile, you can build a company profile. A company profile is likely to be more effective for a larger firm, but small businesses should not rule it out. Why? Other professionals may decide to follow your company. This could open the door to more contacts and a pool of potential employees, clients, and vendors. Whether you create a company page or not, as part of your network building, follow companies you think may be beneficial for you.
Like many other social media providers, LinkedIn is feature-rich, and it provides instructional videos, user guides, tips, and an informative blog. So what are you waiting for? Power up your LinkedIn image, and let it begin to work for you!