To most people LinkedIn is just part of the social media landscape but in this location you will find not only your customers and prospects but employees and competitors as well all interconnected in a web of possibilities. And while the business uses of other social networks are still being explored, here you have one whose original purpose was business networking. With over 100 million plus users in over 200 countries (and getting a new member about every second) there are exponential networking capabilities but how can you make the most of your involvement in this business networking behemoth? It is all about the basics.
Fully optimize your profile. I know it sounds simple but those little nagging completion meters are there to help you. The more information you provide the easier you are going to be to find by potential clients. And don’t just go through the motions to get to that ever elusive 100% mark, make it count.
- Don’ Bury the Lead
Make the info you provide work for you starting with a strong summary-headline. Think of it like keyword optimization for your website. What is the best way to describe yourself for a search. Are you a Graphic Designer or are you an Atlanta Logo Designer. Once term will pull you up with about a million other people while the other significantly narrows the field
- Show them what you can do
Make sure to fill out your areas of expertise. You never know what skills a person might be looking for and the more well-rounded you are for the job, the better.
- Give them a Call to action
Make sure they can contact you. It does not do you any good to show up in all of the searches if people cannot find a way to connect with you once they determine you are the right person for the job. You need to strike while the iron is hot so don’t give it time to cool down while they are trying to figure out the best way to make your brilliance part of their project.
- Let your music be heard
Request recommendations them from connections you have done business with in the past. Testimonials from satisfied clients or praise from former co-workers can go a long way toward sealing the deal. Anyone can “enhance” their resume to sound better on paper but it is a whole different story when potential clients can hear people singing from the mountain tops about their amazing experience working with you.
Making connections is what it is all about but it is more than just names on a list. You need to interact to make the most of the medium.
- Lock and Load
Add connections from your address book or search people out based on past work history. You have to start building your connections at home before you can expect to be found. And once you make your base connections you can expand your web by reaching out to people they may know. And then they’ll tell two fronds and so on and so on and so on.
- Get Onboard
And if you are a business owner, get your employees involved and leverage their connections as well because you never know where you might find that next project.
- Follow up
Keeping top of mind with people only requires you to keep your eyes open. Listen to what your connections are saying and drop a quick note congratulating them on recent promotions or other events notated in their LinkedIn account. It will start a dialog that will make you more memorable.
Get your other social networking involved to help spread the word.
Integrate your twitter feed into your profile to let people see what you are putting out there and give them an opportunity to follow your musings on a regular basis.
Integrate your blog as well (if you have one) so people get all the info they need about your and what you offer in one place. Give them more than they bargained for and take advantage of the captive audience to dazzle them with your thought leading brilliance.
If you travel a lot for business set yourself up on Trip-It so you can easily make sure people know where you are going and how long you will be there. That way you can kill two birds with once stone by setting up meetings with new potential clients while you are in the area.
As with any social network, what you get out of it largely depends on what you put into it so make a contribution.
- Say it don’t spray it
Use updates to give useful info, not just propaganda. Become a resource for people looking for your expertise. Best case you can become a thought leader on certain subjects and worst case you can provide information that can be a tipping point for determining whether or not your get a call. Either way you can never go wrong with providing useful information.
- Get in with the In Crowd
You will find a great many groups in Linked-In that cover a multitude of topics from Alumni associations to highly segments industry specific cabals. Find a group that makes sense for you and join. But don’t just join, in order to make the most of this type of interaction you need to participate. Join the conversation. Give your two cents and who knows you might just strike up a conversation with someone who is looking for you.
- Sing for Your Supper
The recommendation train runs both ways. Don’t be stingy! Make sure you are helping your connections the way they are helping you. And if you are still felling a little bit selfish, keep in ind that writing recommendations can be just as useful as getting them yourself. What you say about working with other people says as much or more than the what others say about you. Remember, you never know what circuitous route a connection may take on its way to you. Someone could be looking for something completely different, read a recommendation you posted and realize that what they really need is a person like you for a totally unrelated project.
Do the Math
Connections through liked-in are like playing 6-degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. You start out knowing a few people in the far-flung reaches of the world and the next thing you know the Bacon Brothers are playing for your next birthday party. Lets put it in perspective. I only have 141 direct connections through linked-in but those 141 connections actually balloon up to a potential 36,600 connections and that is only going a few layers deep. Just think how many that would be if I actually had to go more than 2 degrees to get to Kevin Bacon? Going all six would yield be a crazy number of connections.
The bottom line is that there is too much business potential to ignore so get it in gear, optimize your account, load those contacts and start some business conversations.