For those of you who haven’t become involved with Linkedin—now is the time to start! Linkedin is a social networking site that is primarily used for professional and business related networking. Currently, Linkedin has about 135 millions member worldwide which is why – if it isn’t already – it should be used as one of your primary networking and prospecting tools. There are many benefits of using Linkedin which include researching and building relationships potential clients, connecting with current clients, coworkers and business member of your industry, acquiring positive testimonials and recommendations, adding value by providing relevant content (website, blog, industry trends etc), answer and ask questions to other members, find or search for jobs, become involved in groups that are specific to your business needs and so much more.
So how can you take advantage of all the great benefits that Linkedin has to offer? Let’s start with the basics:
Maximize Your Linkedin Profile
Although filling out the Linkedin profile can be a daunting task – it’s important to add as many details as possible to each section. Once you fill in the basics – work experience, education, summary, contact information etc. – Linkedin will provide it’s own additional recommendations on how you can improve your profile. You can also personalize your Linkedin profile but creating a custom URL with your name or your businesses name in it – for example my Linkedin profile URL is now http://www.linkedin.com/in/acoughlin. Having a custom URL will benefit your SEO and make it easier for a prospective client or business associate to search and contact you. Adding a photo to your Linkedin profile also helps personalize your page – you can always add you logo for your business page if you don’t want to add an image of yourself. Once you’ve created your ideal Linkedin profile, be sure to maintain it and keep it as up-to-date as possible. In doing so, it will showcase all relevant information for you and your business as well as keeping your networks informed about any new business developments.
Ask for Recommendations
Recommendations are also a big part of your profile page. Linkedin has made it easy to request a recommendation from any one of your connections on Linkedin. Think of the last item you bought online – did you read other customer’s reviews of the product? Potential clients want to read positive recommendation about you and your business before they start working with you.
Find Ways to Connect
Linkedin makes searching for connections fairly simple. By going to the “Contacts” tab and clicking on “Add Connections” Linkedin will auto-populate a list of recommended connections. Some contacts may be new and some might be contacts that have similar work experience or are associated with your current connections. Connecting with as many people as possible is extremely beneficial to building your professional network on Linkedin. Once you’ve connected with someone they become your “First Degree” connection. While “First Degree” connections are vital to your Linkedin membership, it’s the “Second Degree” connections that can build up your professional network and help grow your business. You can leverage your “First Degree” connections to help connect with your “Second Degree” connections – perhaps your First Degree contact can make an introduction for you to one of their connections. The bottom-line is, the more connections you make, the better chance you have of meeting a new prospect or business associate.
Create or Join a Group
There are thousands of groups on Linkedin, many are specifically tailored to different business demographics. In these groups you can ask questions, receive answers, discuss current industry trends and share relevant articles. By adding value to the group with content and relevant discussions – groups can become a great place to gain visibility with other members of your industry. Your company can also create a group just for your business. This group can be a place for you to moderate and share information that you’d like your current customers, member of your industry and any potential prospects to receive. You can also post links to your blog or website –this can increase traffic to your own sites.
What NOT To Do
In breaking down the essential Linkedin “to-do’s” it’s also important that we mention some major Linkedin “don’ts.” As we said above, it’s important to create connections to expand you’re professional network, but don’t make connections just to add bulk to your profile. Your connections should be well thought out and relevant to your business. Linkedin is meant to be a site for professional – not social and personal – networking. While Linkedin can be used to leverage sales, no one wants to feel like they are being “sold” to. Add value to your profile or group by provided relevant content that members or your industry would be interested in. Most importantly, don’t forget to interact and keep your profile updates. Be sure to check in on Linkedin at least once a day to find additional connections, ask questions, post to your group or start a discussion.
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