Linked In is the premier social media network for business professionals. The way I like to describe it is Facebook is for personal activities and entertainment and the ‘consumer’ market and Linked In is for professional activities, connections and the ‘business’ market.
I find that Linked In works best when using a personal provide as a representative for your organisation rather than worrying about the actual organisation page. You certainly can and should have an organisation page set up in Linked In, especially if you have more than one person from your organisation on Linked In (as it groups these people in the organisation) but the organisation page should be information about the organisation as a whole, links to the website, etc.
The real magic of Linked In happens when working with your own profile as a representative of your company. As this is ‘social media’, the social aspect is important to develop relationships and attract new business.
There are various aspects to Linked In when using it with your profile. I will outline these below and the best way to utilise these methods.
The first step is to create your profile and then ensure you set up as much information as possible. Put in a professional photo, information on who you are and your position, your education, any projects you have worked on, your skills, etc. Just follow the prompts from Linked In on this and put as much information as possible that relates to your current position and industry. Remember what you put in is what potential contacts will read when considering making or approving a connection to you so it should relate specifically to the image you want to get across to them.
Connections are very important in Linked In. They are like your ‘friends’ list in Facebook except that you can find new connections through your existing connections. Say for example, you want to reach a specific group of people in a specific industry. If you have a connection you are attached to in that industry, you will then see their connections and you can then request to be introduced online.
When you request a connection, the person you are contacting will then see which connections you have in common and this builds trust and legitimacy which then results in new connections.
The best way to start with your connections is to import your email contact list into Linked In and it will then find any of these people on Linked In and allow you to request a connection to them. This then gets you started with building your network.
Linked In has a skills and endorsements system that lets you list your skills from pre-selected options and then your connections can endorse you on these skills. This is important as the more endorsements you get, the more it will show to potential contacts where your area of expertise is. This builds up your reputation and trust with contacts.
It is important that on your profile you use the ‘add skill’ button to add any skills that are relevant to what you do. You can add extra skills later down the track but the skills you add will come up occasionally to your connections asking if they endorse you for these skills.
You should also take note that once you have connections, Linked In will ask you at times if you endorse your connections for any skills they have listed. You should do this whenever you have the opportunity as in my experience, if you endorse your connections for skills you know they have, they will do the same for you making it mutually beneficial for both of your profiles.
Just like Facebook and other social media, you can post content in Linked In. This content then appears on your connections timelines and you can also notify them via an alert or inbox message in Linked In to get extra exposure (just don’t overuse this feature or it will annoy your connections).
The type of content you should post should be in relation to the services you offer or the industry you work in. Just like Facebook, your connections can then ‘like’ content you post, make comments, etc. which then gets you more exposure.
Participating in groups
Groups are a fantastic way to engage with other professionals, especially if they are not yet connections with you.
There are groups for all sorts of professionals based on industry, interests and/or geographical location. For example, I participate both in a Gold Coast business network (this is a regional group) and an inbound marketing group (this is an industry group).
Groups allow you to post a subject to discuss with other group members and also allows you to participate in discussions posted by other members.
Participating in groups gives you exposure as you are essentially networking with others without having to leave your desk. It also gives you the opportunity to expose your business in natural conversation.
How often should you participate?
This question is often asked of not only linked in but all social media. Just like any social network, the more you put in, the more you will get out of it. I personally recommend that you quickly check it once a day to once a week (depending on your time available) and do a few endorsements for contacts, check for any news or posts in groups that you could contribute to and do so at least for one or two of them.
Doing this will keep you in the loop of what is going on in your Linked In network and will also ensure that your connections and groups will see you regularly which exposes them to your company.
Do you want to find me on Linked In?
Come and find me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=32415443