Some people think that LinkedIn is not all that helpful, but that’s because they post their resume and then leave it – expecting new clients and current customers to find them and connect. Like all marketing, it’s not that easy.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as your business card. With a business card you probably took some time designing it, maybe even hiring a designer to help with choosing the right style, the information that should be on it, the type style, glossy or matte, and the texture of the paper. Then came the printing – proofs, corrections, and finally the box of 1000 new business cards sitting on your desk. The perfect representation of your company, your brand, just waiting to be used.
It’s at this point that many people stop and the beautiful, crisp business cards go stale in the box, little more than a paperweight.
For the few, the business cards are used: handed out during business networking meetings, in-person one-on-one meetings, sent with contracts or Thank You cards. Before you know it, it’s time to reorder.
The same is true for LinkedIn. You can take the time to fill out all the fields, add your photo, receive a few testimonials and watch as the little green bar on the ‘Complete Profile’ indicator goes from 30% to 100%. Although it’s true that a complete LinkedIn profile is 44 times more likely to show up in the People Search results in LinkedIn, it’s not where you’re supposed to stop. Here are some ways you can better use LinkedIn.
Let’s go back to the profile. Your LinkedIn profile has the opportunity to show up in the thousands of ‘People’ searches done on LinkedIn every day. How do you get in-front of these possible prospects? Use keywords that people when searching for your service and/or product. If you’re an insurance agent, you may want to use ‘auto insurance’, ‘homeowners insurance’, ‘business insurance’ as well as the locations that you serve. But, don’t stop there. Consider your brand – what makes you different from your competition? Why would a prospective customer choose you over another insurance company? What do you love about your work? Don’t make it stale and generic – show your personality.
Groups are a great way for you to network and get your voice out there. Just like in a real networking situation, you may want to see how the tone of the group is first before you jump in and start posting. Many groups do not allow for self promotion, so be wary of that and try to keep to honest discussions of interest.
I always liked the gold stars in class, and LinkedIn developers must have, too. When you answer a question in the “Answers” area in LinkedIn, and the person that asked the question ‘votes’ that yours was the best, you get a green star next to your name stating that you’re an ‘expert’ in the field. This is great for your search results in LinkedIn, and makes you instantly seem more credible and professional than your non-star competitors. Plus, the “Answers” area is searchable through Google, so you have an even wider audience that you could be connecting with because of your activity online.
It’s important to update on a regular basis, especially now with the new ‘search’ function (see video below for explanation). When you ‘update’ your contacts on what’s new with you, they see it in their stream when they first log-in, they view it when they go to their groups (members’ updates are on the side-bar), and when they receive their daily or weekly ‘Contact Updates’ email. If you want to stay in-front of current and prospective clients, as well as possible referral sources, then be sure to update often.
If your prospects are searching on LinkedIn for your business, then why not put them at ease that you do everything you promise by having recommendations right there on your profile. Plus, recommendations are a great way to ‘toot your own horn’ without doing it yourself. However, don’t send the recommendation request to all of your connections,instead send it to people you’ve actually done business with. Be sure to return the favor, too, and send recommendations to those that you do business with.
Although LinkedIn officially states that you only connect with people you know well personally, I recommend that you connect with people you want to know on a more personal/professional basis – without spamming. If you abuse a new connection – like sending constant, unsolicited emails – then you may get kicked-off of LinkedIn. Focus on cultivating your connections by introducing yourself, finding out more about them, and even calling or meeting the connection in person. (Want to find out how all your connections know each other? Get a visual reference of your network with http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com. Video below explains)
My best recommendation, though, is to just get started, and don’t stop. Take the commitment to be more active online, and then work it actively – not passively. If you have questions about your online presence, be sure to contact us.