When I give talks about social media marketing, I refer to Facebook as the “BBQ party at your friend’s house,” and LinkedIn as the “professional networking meeting.”
However, despite having a reputation as being a bit stuffy – ok, let’s say it, boring – LinkedIn has added lots of new features in the past few months – features that have made it quite the
happening place of late.
Whether you’re a consultant, freelancer, business owner or corporate employee, LinkedIn is a great place to meet people, forge solid business connections, and showcase your expertise. To get more from LinkedIn, follow these seven tips:
1. Beef up your Profile Summary – According to Jason Alba, who wrote, I’m on LinkedIn, Now What???, the number one biggest mistake people make is neglecting their Profile Summary. As the name implies, the Profile Summary should include a pithy summary of your career
experience, and it should be more than one sentence. My good friend, Derek Gordon, has an excellent Profile Summary:
Results-oriented marketing leader with 20 years experience serving extraordinary organizations. Expert across all disciplines, including PR and the field of social, conversational and viral marketing. Strategic product marketing expert skilled in competitive and creative go-to-market execution. Proven leader, respected advisor and excellent communicator.
2. Continually add Connections – After you’ve added people in your address book to your LinkedIn network, you can begin adding people you meet through LinkedIn Groups and other online and face-to-face networking activities.
This doesn’t mean you add people you don’t know. As you meet people, connect with them on LinkedIn. I also connect with those people whose blogs I read, as well as people I’ve met on
Twitter. Adding connections grows your network – and it shows you’re active as your “connection status” is updated via the Status feed which everyone in your LinkedIn network sees.
3. Ask for and give Recommendations – It is okay to ask people with whom you work or have worked with to recommend you on LinkedIn. One way to get recommendations is to recommend others. Often the people you recommend will recommend you in turn.
4. Add your blog to your Profile – LinkedIn now has cool applications that allow you to add your WordPress or TypePad blog to your profile – a welcome feature for consultants or freelancers. Once you post something new on your blog, your LinkedIn Profile and Status feed is updated, too. Thanks to this application, I’m now seeing people who view my blog on LinkedIn subscribing to my e-newsletter.
5. Join or start a Group – In my opinion, Groups are one of the most under-utilized feature of LinkedIn. One, LinkedIn features hundreds of groups for all types of interests – from entrepreneur moms to MEMS engineers. You can even find “positive thinking” groups!
Instead of joining groups willy-nilly, however, join those that match your job, career, expertise or interests. Then, once you become a member, participate by posting news or blog articles, taking part in discussions, and posting job notices or events of interest to the group.
By participating in a just a few groups, you’ll end up meeting dozens of people within your
industry – and you’ll learn lots of new information, too.
It’s also very easy to start your own Group (it takes all of two minutes) – as I did with the B2B Social Media Group.
6. Gather info with the Polling feature – Need some quick on-the-fly feedback from your target audience? Use LinkedIn to conduct a poll and advertise the poll to targeted industry Groups for great on-the-ground feedback. (Hat tip to Billy Mitchell, Sr. Creative Director at MLT Creative, who posted this tip on LinkedIn.)
7. Answer and ask Questions – No matter what your question, you can get an answer to it on LinkedIn – which features Answer categories ranging from Conferences and Event Planning to Start Ups and Small Business.
By answering questions, you also showcase your expertise – and in the process, end up meeting people who will email you to either thank you for your answer or to ask a follow up question. If your answer is particularly good, the person asking the question can rate it as the “best answer” which then gives you a star – an indication that you are indeed an expert.
As you can see, you can use LinkedIn to build your network, your career, and your business without too much effort. And best of all, you don’t have to send marshmallow Peeps to people or learn how to talk like a pirate (two popular Facebook applications).