Having hesitated for a while about adding a LinkedIn tip which has the word “Planning” in the title – it does seem to scare people – I’ve decided to finally take the plunge, although I haven’t quite plucked up the courage to add one with “Strategy” in just yet.
However, planning is hugely important because, like all of the social media channels, LinkedIn is essentially a tool for you to use in the way that best suits your needs. I am constantly reminded of this when I see people advise newly joined members of LinkedIn to first of all get their profile up to date. Hugely important I agree … but a close second after first deciding why you want to be on LinkedIn and what you want to get from the time you’ll be spending on it.
It’s therefore key to work out from the start what you want to use it for and what you want to achieve with it. Let’s face it, it can be put to good use in any number of ways. It’s a bit like a computer in that respect – a tool that some people use for word processing, some for email, others for games or surfing or blogging and so on.
Personally, I look at the planning phase as what underpins all other activity on LinkedIn and in diagrammatic form can be expressed as:
So, let’s say you are looking to use LinkedIn to help promote yourself and your business … something that probably applies to many of us. The information you include in your profile, the content and frequency of the updates you send out, your choice of groups and your conversations with others should all really focus on taking you towards that aim. Likewise, if you want to find a new job, extend your personal network, attract people to an event, promote a new product or service, identify partners, demonstrate your expertise etc etc then you would modify your actions and the content you share accordingly.
Ideally, anything that you do which is not going to help you to achieve that goal should really be considered a secondary priority. In my own case (because I have a tendency to ‘stray’, shall we say), I tend to stick a post-it note next to my screen to remind myself what I’m looking to achieve – that helps make sure that the questions I answer, information I share and changes to my profile have to be of benefit to others but equally need to help me towards that aim.
Decide (and write down) what you want LinkedIn to do for you and your business … then plan your activity on that basis. It’ll save you loads of time and will help ensure the time you do spend delivers the right results.