As ever, there are lots of posts appearing about things to do at the start of the New Year and I guess to an extent that this could be labelled in a similar manner, however …
While these are certainly things that you should be doing during as a start of the year re-appraisal, they are also ones that would be valuable as an ongoing checking – not daily or weekly necessarily but certainly when the requirement arises.
I have divided these into two sections and created two posts around them – this is the first and examines some key planning and usage elements that I believe to be fundamental to how we successfully work on LinkedIn and the second, some practical and functional elements which I would encourage you build into an back up process going forward.
Planning and Usage
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” – 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 communicates the right message
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.
It’s 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 it is 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) Are you in the right Groups?
Groups are such a powerful tool on LinkedIn for engagement, research and marketing, but with over 2.5 million on the site, your main concern should be to find the right ones to join.
For me, there are 3 key reasons why you might join a Group on LinkedIn, and remember that you can only join 50 so it’s good to make them count.
- You might be looking at a certain group as a source of information from peers or industry experts, effectively keeping your ear to the ground.
- Alternatively, you might be there to participate in discussions and establish yourself as the expert in your field there.
- Equally the third reason may simply be to give yourself access to other members of the group and be able to search through them and message individuals.
So, as you look through your list of Groups, think about what you want to achieve and cull groups that are ineffective or those that no longer relevant. Then reorder them on your Groups page so that the most important ones are at the top and highlighted for your attention.
4) Check out your connections
Reminding yourself of who you are connected to is also an important ongoing process. Some people do so 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.
Here, however, I would recommend looking though your connections and work on going through and tagging some of the key ones. I would also encourage you to look at whether there are opportunities to get back in touch or engage with them. Find ways to comment on their updates, message them or just say hi. Works wonders … really. 🙂
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.
The elements outlined above should 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”. In this way, 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.