We’ve seen it time and time again. You get a LinkedIn account just because you think you should have one. If you’re saying, “Yep, that’s me” (aloud or in your head or even in your secretest heart of hearts), then we wrote this just for you.
(If you didn’t say “Yep, that’s me” or some variant thereof, give yourself a pat on the back. Then read this anyway, ‘cuz you never know when you might learn something or find the opportunity to teach something).
For those of you are not making the most of your LinkedIn account, let’s just be clear: LinkedIn is a tremendously valuable professional network. That’s not in question.
The question is: Do you know how to use LinkedIn to its fullest potential?
Well, fortunately, it’s easy to do and it’s the same advice we give for every social network:
Be authentic, relevant and get engaged.
How to Optimize Your Profile
1. Complete Your Profile
Take your time with this and do it right; share your work ethic, skills, education, and relevant job history. You can even sort the categories in your profile so that the ones that make you shine like a star are listed first (or at least above the fold).
2. Make Connections
Once your profile is 100% complete, search for people you already know professionally. Begin to make connections with the people in your industry, clients, potential business partners, industry leaders, etc. You can also connect with old professors, past employers, past co-workers, alumni, friends. (Although, remember that this a professional network so act accordingly with your friends; save the jokes, comics, sports talk, new Pinterest obsession for Facebook).
Once you’re in the habit, making connections on LinkedIn will be easy (and yes, even fun). Just like we’re always saying: it’s important to think of social media as face-to-face business development…online. Every time you meet someone in person (at a meeting, conference, speaking engagement, etc), look them up on LinkedIn. Get connected and follow them.
Also, we’re kind of picky about our connections and like to keep them relevant. In other words, if someone is looking to connect with you on LinkedIn (most likely just to increase their number of connections) and you don’t know them or aspire to, don’t friend them. No harm done.
3. Join Some Groups
When you’ve started to build up some connections, make a point of joining groups that look interesting or valuable. Many discussions occur on LinkedIn and being in a group is one of the best ways to build relationships. Some groups you’ll find worthwhile, others…not so much. You can always remove yourself from a group and explore another. If you feel like there’s a great gaping hole where a group should be…start it.
Keep in mind that self-promotion is the fastest way to becoming the loser of the group. You want to join the conversations within these groups when the opportunity presents itself (not just because you want to push your business card around). Using authenticity will help you to network with people beyond your local arena. You can gain a reputation as a thought leader in your industry via LinkedIn. LinkedIn recognizes those that contribute value to the discussion, whether you provoke a conversation or debate or answer a question. You could find yourself in the list of “ Top Influencers This Week”.
4. Get Some Recommendations
Another important, and quite possibly the most valuable aspect of LinkedIn is the recommendations people give one another. Don’t feel intimidated at the prospect. If you are good at what you do for a living, let others sing your praises. Make sure you also give recommendations only to those you truly vouch for.
Other Stuff LinkedIn is Good For
LinkedIn is a great networking tool, but it’s also enormously helpful when you are hiring or, contrariwise, when you are looking for a position. It’s good to point potential employers to your LinkedIn profile. People tend to treat all those lovely recommendations as references or referrals.
And Your Last Idea for Leveraging LinkedIn
Your LinkedIn information and reputation can be leveraged through other social networks or through your emails and email marketing. Place your LinkedIn profile on your email signature if you want people to know more about you professionally. Place your company’s LinkedIn profile in your email marketing if you want people to follow your company’s growth. Always think about how you can utilize and leverage through social tools.
And remember, 100% complete on your profile. That’s important.
S’why we said it twice.
Want to connect with us?
Mackenzie Fogelson, Owner: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mackenziefogelson
June Macon, Social Media Strategist: http://www.linkedin.com/in/junemacon
Natalie Touchberry, Design Ninja: http://www.linkedin.com/in/natalietouchberry
Courtney Brown, SEM Strategist: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cabrown4