While it is the start of the year, it’s true – oh, and Happy New Year by the way! – checking and confirming that we are using LinkedIn in a focused and targeted way is something that we should ideally be doing on a continual basis.
Sounds all a bit harsh, but if we are doing to get the best return on the time that we put into our time on LinkedIn, then it’s important that we have all of the elements working together for us.
So, almost without further ado, here’s a few things to bear in mind as you do so:
1) Be clear what you want to achieve on LinkedIn
This, for me, underpins everything else. I consider LinkedIn to be a tool to achieve a goal, not a “place to hang out” – though there are clearly benefits in interacting with your target audience on here.
Nevertheless, most of us are using LinkedIn to achieve something and have our “day jobs” to fit in as well – therefore, we need to clear in our own minds what are our goals for being on LinkedIn – effectively, why are we spending time on there in the first place?
It might be to develop new business, recruit new staff, market your company or services, find a new role or simply network and use it as a personal branding opportunity. Whatever it is, make sure that you are clear about your aims and focus your efforts behind that – without an objective, you will in all probability be wasting your time on LinkedIn.
2) Check that your profile is talking to your target Audience
Much has been written about the importance of your LinkedIn profile so I won’t repeat the specific elements here – if you want my profile optimisation documents then just get in contact. However, in light of your response to point 1, I would certainly encourage you to check that your profile is in line with what you want to achieve and communicates the right message and information to the people that you wish to engage with who are viewing it.
In other words, decide who your audience is on LinkedIn and then talk to them in a language which will attract and engage them.
Consider your profile more as a sales and marketing document not a CV … unless you are looking for a new job and even then, some may say a CV is still a sales & marketing document, just with a different name! Make sure each of the key sections are written with your audience in mind and containing relevant information to help achieve your goals. Don’t forget to incorporate visual media and don’t just leave it as a text document, but do ensure (like your website) that relevant keyword phrases are built in.
3) Talk to your connections
People often tell me that they have connected with lots of people on LinkedIn but that they don’t then do anything with them. Well, without sounding simplistic … talk to them! Keeping in touch with people you are connected to and talking to them is an important ongoing process. Drop them a short message, comment on a recent post of theirs that you found of interest, even tag them if there’s something of particular relevance.
All of these simple actions reflect the natural maintenance of contact that we do in the real world and which we need to replicate to a similar extent here. Saying ‘Hi’ works wonders … really. 🙂
Some people also evaluate if they want to remain connected in order to then consider “culling” those who they haven’t been in contact with or who are no longer relevant to their current business focus. Personally, I don’t go down that route – while I believe in a connection strategy which leans more towards quality rather than pure quantity, I still believe that connecting more widely than simply your offline face-to-face connections is valuable.
4) Target effectively
You can’t talk to everyone … though I do know a few people who give it a real good try! So, as you identify the people that you would like to talk to next on LinkedIn, do so in a targeted way. Your time is precious (as is theirs) so make sure that you use the tools at your disposal on LinkedIn to find the right people and also the best way to approach them.
Getting familiar with the “All filters” tab on the People search can really help in this respect and allows you to get as near as possible to the people you’re interested in according to their current role, background, location or company. Don’t forget to also factor in if you know anyone who might be able to introduce you … so much more powerful than just strolling up them and saying hello.
5) Plan your outward communications
Finally have a look at what you are sharing (and planning to share) on LinkedIn, via which channels and with whom. The type of questions to ask yourself should really include what sort of a mix of items are you sharing and how frequently – by putting together the list, you can evaluate which of the communications methods open to you are going to be most relevant in each case from the personal and company updates, group discussions or perhaps the LinkedIn Publisher platform.
Each has its own benefits and so coordinating your activity across the different channels can help to increase both the targeting and the general visibility of the posts. In each case, try to think of the benefit the users will derive from it and ensure that you have a suitable call to action or next step – you’re doing this with a purpose in mind, remember.
So, a few simple reminders which will hopefully help to make sure that the time you spend on LinkedIn is as beneficial as possible for you – to get the best results from it, I believe that it’s important to remember that LinkedIn is a tool for you to apply as and when appropriate rather than a place to hang out all day.
Hopefully, with a targeted approach, you can achieve your specific aims and then take the next step of building it into your ongoing professional / business activities.