LinkedIn is one of the biggest social networks out there with over 400 million users, including the upper echelon of the business community. You'll find more CEO's, CMO's, Investors, and Decision-Makers on LinkedIn than another other social network. LinkedIn is for big business and it can be incredibly beneficial for your career. Regardless of your industry or business goals, you should be utilizing LinkedIn to enhance your own personal brand and online reputation. I've been active on LinkedIn since 2009 and I've always been in the Top 1% for Recommendations, Profile Views, Primary Connections, Article / Update Followers, and even SlideShare Business views (a LinkedIn company). I've gotten a great deal of website traffic, recommendations, sales, clients, and jobs from LinkedIn and I want you to benefit just as much. Here are some tips based on business lessons I've learned to fully leverage this invaluable social networking resource.
1) Optimize Your Profile
I can't emphasize enough the importance of maximizing the power of your profile. Use the most current and professional high resolution picture you have. Make sure it is appropriate for your industry. For example, the profile picture for a marketer or designer could potentially be more personal or creative than that of a financial professional (more conservative industry). Use your full name, professional title, and a thorough professional summary. Make sure your summary doesn't just include personality traits... you need to include measurable data from your work. Add pictures, videos, slide shows, white papers, links, and any other visual media to stand out and prove your abilities. Make sure to include keywords relevant to your industry. Choose a customized LinkedIn URL. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Assume that co-workers, clients, prospective employers, and even the CEO of your company will see your profile.
2) Connect With Past Peers
While I'm not saying you should connect with everyone from your past, it's usually very useful to connect with people you worked with in school, previous jobs, groups or associations, and reputable industry peers. Connect with individuals that you could confidently endorse for their quality work, and that in turn would return the favor for you if needed. Connect with influencers and power players that can raise your stock or provide invaluable potential opportunities. While you don't want to lower the quality of your connections, just remember that each relevant connection could make all the difference. You never know for sure where your next sale, client, or employer could come from. Make the right connection choices and increase your odds of networking success.
3) Request Relevant Recommendations
Make sure to professionally recommend your deserving colleagues and request professional recommendations from appropriate connections. It's good to help out other deserving professionals and you are displayed on their profile as well. Getting publicly visible recommendations for your work is a big deal and all you have to do is send a personalized invitation request (maybe followed up with a polite and professional LinkedIn message or email). And while the endorsement system (separate from professional recommendations) LinkedIn uses is far from perfect, you still want to list your skills and allow others to endorse you. If you get spam endorsements for some reason you can always remove them individually and it only takes a minute. Showcase your skills and it can add significant value to your account.
4) Add Associations And Awards
Are you involved in any professional organizations or a member of a networking group? Do you participate in any charitable organizations or events? Have you received any industry or company awards? Do you have your HootSuite Social Media Marketing Certification or HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification? List all of your accomplishments, add details as to why they are important, and add some clout to your profile.
5) Go Premium
Getting a premium account allows you to enjoy some useful features. You can view more individuals that are looking at your profile, expand search options, message people more easily, and many other benefits. And believe it or not the gold "Premium" badge does make you stand out. I know that sounds ridiculous but it's true. And standing out can make all the difference. Because it's $50+ / month now (a lot more expensive than it used to be) I usually don't recommend this to anyone unless:
- You're looking for a new job
- You're a recruiter
- You consider the monthly fee to be negligible.
Making the choice for a Premium account, and the specific membership type, is up to you. Weigh the pros and cons and determine whether the money would be better spent elsewhere.
6) Share Articles & Use LinkedIn Publishing:
Everyone can share posts with their LinkedIn connections so you should take advantage of this option. Share your own websites or articles, share industry news, or share a post from one of your connections. Make sure you've customized your news feed to filter out what you want to follow and customize the industries you follow via LinkedIn "Pulse". Please don't post non-professional "status updates" that might be better suited for Facebook. LinkedIn Publishing can be another platform to promote your business or prove your legitimacy. LinkedIn Publishing was originally for a select group of "INfluencers" and was then offered to a select number of other influential LinkedIn users. Initially for most people they got a great deal of traffic and social sharing. It was a new feature after all and not a lot of users were allowed to publish, or aware that they had the option. Soon after, everyone was allowed to publish and the quality of posts went downhill overall. Article publishing notifications have become "white noise" to some users and for others LinkedIn doesn't even send notifications after an article has posted. While I don't personally use LinkedIn Publishing any longer, it is still a strong option for a lot of users. Regardless of how you share content, establish yourself as an expert in your field.
7) Utilize Company Pages
If you have your own business then you should set up an official Company Page if you haven't already done so. You can add company information, pictures, posts, jobs, featured groups, product showcases, and much more. Posting official jobs that candidates can apply to internally on LinkedIn can be costly, but posting a link to that job listing is free. Paying to post jobs or promoting posts is up to you or your Human Resources department. If you work for a company then you should be following the page and sharing the posts to help out your company. Liking, sharing, and commenting on the posts shows that you are passionate about your employer and it is usually good for business.
8) Join & Engage In Groups
Join relevant professional groups and display them proudly on your profile. Take a look at the group owners, managers, and members. Share your posts in the groups and engage in discussions. Help somebody new in the group or assist a young professional. It will get your name out there and usually give you at least a few new high quality connections. It's usually best to focus on being active in a few groups at most, so determine which ones are the most important for your business or career.
9) Monitor Industry & Associates
Constantly be on the lookout for financial and technology news about your industry to stay on top of things. Take note of your connections that share their posts and how successfully it works for them. See who engages with your profile updates, company page, and shared posts. Congratulate your connections for their new jobs or job anniversaries. Continue analyzing trends to find new potential opportunities or to just improve your LinkedIn performance.
10) Post Job Openings Or Seek New Positions
If you are looking to recruit new talent for your company or seeking a new job, LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms to be using. Post job openings on company pages, in groups, or as personal status updates. I've even seen some individuals post job openings (or requests) as LinkedIn Publishing articles with some success... but I wouldn't do that very often. If you're seeking a new position you could include that openly in your profile description or in your profile summary. Get the word out that you're on the market and you could be a valuable commodity for the right company. If you want to use a little more discretion, you can apply to publicly listed positions or get in touch with decision-makers at these prospective employers. Ask for an introduction to someone in HR / a specific department, or just message them about any new openings. You can use LinkedIn to cut through the clutter and get right to the people who matter.
11) Integrate, Update, And Dedicate
Make sure to include your LinkedIn profile URL on your website, resume, business cards, and other social media platforms (and vice versa). Make sure to keep it updated and allow your connections to view your profile updates. And make sure to stay dedicated by checking your messages, messaging others when necessary, accepting appropriate connection requests, endorse connections that you've worked with successfully, and contribute to high quality groups. Like anything else, it will take some trial and error to determine what works and what doesn't. And as always with social networking, things are always changing every month or so. For some individuals you might only need to spend 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn. For others, you may need to spend several hours each week to accomplish your objectives. Regardless of how much time you spend on LinkedIn, just make sure everything that you do is goal-oriented and efficient. Remember that LinkedIn Marketing is not Facebook Marketing or personal Facebook (even though many try to treat it that way).
And on a final note, make sure to keep your LinkedIn account and data secure! Use a strong password, change it consistently, and enable 2 Step Verification for logins on new browsers and devices. It will be difficult to leverage your LinkedIn account if your account gets hacked or deleted.
I hope this article helps you get more out of your LinkedIn marketing and networking.
Want to learn more social networking strategy?
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As Always, Best Of Luck In Business To You All!
Michael J. Schiemer of Schiemer Consulting
Enthusiastic Entrepreneur & Owner of Frugal Business
Digital Marketing, Social Media, & Entrepreneurship on a Budget
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