But, if you’re like a lot of business owners, you have an out-of-date, dried-up Linkedin account you never use.
If that’s you, it’s natural to think Linkedin isn’t an effective social media network for marketing your business.
Linkedin is different from other social media networks, yes, but it can be an extremely valuable weapon in your social media arsenal.
Become a Networking Superstar On LinkedIn
Make a Winning Bio
A great bio can be the difference between a Linkedin page that commands attention and one that flounders and fails.
If your Linkedin just sits there and collects dust, there’s a good chance your bio is at least partly to blame.
One of the primary ways Linkedin is used as a networking tool is by linking together people who graduated from the same schools, are members of the same organizations, and/pr work for the same corporations.
When you add these things to your profile, you become a part of the group of people on Linkedin who attended New York University, for example, or employees of Microsoft worldwide.
While in some ways your LinkedIn page serves as an online resume, it’s a big mistake to look it as simply a resume. It’s also a portfolio, a social media network, and a hub that connects you to other people in your industry.
When creating your Linked page, fill in as many areas as you possibly can, including those things that go beyond work history and education, like:
- Links — Do you have anything published on the web, or have you been quoted as an expert in an article? Has your product gotten press? Add links to your work entries, or to your summary, and they’ll show up as eye-catching thumbnail links.
- Publications — If you have published or contributed to a book or e-book, be sure to add it.
- Patents — If you hold any patents, list them!
- Projects — Have you completed any special, noteworthy projects? Add them!
- Volunteer Work — Be sure to add any organizations you volunteer with to increase your Linkedin reach.
- Interests — Adding interests helps the people who view your page get to know you a bit and helps show your personality.
It’s simple to add content, just click on “add a section to your profile” and select a brightly-colored button. You’ll need links, and, in some cases, dates, on hand, but it’s worth the extra time.
If you’re new to Linkedin, do all of this before you start making connections, for the best first impression.
Inside Groups, you have the ability to do real, direct networking with people in your industry.
Functionally, Groups are similar to online message boards where members can post and respond in a thread. The difference is, since it’s a part of LinkedIn, you can check out their (hopefully winning) bio page and connect easily if you want to do business with them.
It’s also a great way to share information and join in discussions with your peers without having to set aside time and money to attend a pricey networking event.
If you can, participate in Groups by adding to discussions and/or posting questions or comments (But whatever you do, don’t self-promote unless it’s explicitly allowed in a Group. It’s almost always considered bad form).
Strategize Your Connections
On a platform like Twitter, growing your follower count is an integral part of succeeding. You want followers of value, but you want a lot of them.
On Linkedin, quality matters far more than quantity. Like Facebook, connections are a two-way street; if you want to connect with someone or they want to connect with you, a request must be sent.
Whichever end of the request you’re on, you want to think strategically about your potential connections. Linkedin generates suggestions, some of which have value, some of which don’t.
If the person is a stranger, glance at their profile. What do you have in common? Some commonalities of value might include:
- You are both small business owners in the same city
- You are both business owners in the same industry
- You are business owners in related industries (such as Logistics and Freight)
- You attended the same college — check out your school’s Linked page for fellow alum.
- You may be interested in contracting someone in their profession
- You hope to be contracted by their businessDon’t just blindly add people or accept requests — filler connections do you no good. You should always have a reason to network with every firsthand connection
A great way to network on Linkedin is to connect two people who, for whichever reason, would benefit from a Linkedin connection.Some good potential connections include:
- If they share the same industry
- If they work in related industries and might need the others’ services
- If one of your connects is looking for a service and another offers it
- If one of your connects is looking for someone to fill a position and another –How do you connect people? First, come up with a personalized message to both of the connectees, explaining concisely why you think they should connect.Next, go to the profile of one of the people you want to connect. In the box with their photo and overview info, click on the blue “Send a Message” dropdown. Click on “Share profile” on the dropdown. A message box will open up. Type the name of the person you want to connect, and replace the boilerplate message in the text box with your personal message.Hit send, and that’s it. You’ve now broken the ice between two professionals like a true networker.
Don’t overdo this. Connect people who genuinely should be connected. If you stay on people’s Linkedin radars by helping them out, they’re likely to want to return the favor.
Use the Keep in Touch Feature
Linkedin’s Keep in Touch feature lets you know when your connections have something going on, whether it’s a birthday, and anniversary, or a new job.
You can find your personalized Keep In Touch events on your Home page in the top right corner. From there, you can easily Like or comment to keep your connection fresh.
It’s also a good way to keep connections of your radar. Maybe you’ve been thinking about a website redesign and a web designer connection you’d forgotten about has an anniversary, or a birthday alert reminds you that you meant to contact a connect about collaborating on a project.
You don’t have to respond to every Keep in Touch, but if you’re doing a lot of skipping because you don’t know your them or have no reason to network with them, think about #3 above and streamline your connects.
Similar to Facebook, Linkedin offers you the ability to share content, whether it’s a text update, a photo, or a link.
You’ll probably notice that your Linkedin feed moves at a far slower pace than other social media feeds, depending on the posting habits of your followers.
Linkedin just isn’t used as aggressively for sharing content, which can be to your advantage. Post a link to your blog, and it’s less likely to be buried before anyone sees it.
The content you share on Linkedin can overlap the content you post on Facebook and Twitter, but save your more entertaining posts for other networks. Linkedin content should be all informational and professional.
If you share article links, they should be about business and (your) industry from more of a professional standpoint.
So, while you might share an article with tips for your followers on Twitter, on Linkedin you might share an article about industry standards.
A bit of levity is fine on Linkedin (especially if it’s industry-related), but avoid being too jokey too often, because, at the end of the day, it’s a professional network. Don’t post political rants, either — in fact, you should save those for your personal non-business social media accounts altogether.
And, as always with social media, remember that engagement is key. Like, comment and share other connections’ content if it speaks to you.
Don’t underestimate what Linkedin can do for your business. Far from simply an online resume repository, it’s a dynamic B2B and professional-to-professional networking tool. If you haven’t been getting the most out of your old Linkedin account, now’s the time to dust it off and get networking!
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