There is an ever increasing body of evidence showing that LinkedIn is the place to be within the social media world if you are looking to gain serious traction in the online business networking world. It is also generally considered to be a great social media antidote to the (all too often) chaotic worlds of Facebook and Twitter.
However, it’s important to realise that using LinkedIn can still very time intensive like most social media tools, even if we make the most of integrating our other online tools and sharing information we create elsewhere (as well as on LinkedIn itself). It’s unfortunately true that the business world is littered with people who have tried to take on too much and suffered the consequences – the internet world, because of it very nature, offers us a range of tools and the ability to follow in those footsteps unless we go in with clear business objectives in mind!
Therefore, to gain all of the benefits that LinkedIn can offer without suffering the potential downsides, it’s important to have a clear idea of how you wish to use the tools and what you want to achieve. If you plan and then take action on the back of that, with your business aims uppermost in your mind, you’re much more likely to come out with the results that you are looking for.
So here are 5 steps I’d recommend you take when using LinkedIn to make sure that you use it to best effect and that it serves you well (rather than the other way round!):
A stage which is all too often forgotten or skirted over, but if you are going to dedicate time to a marketing tool such as this, then you need to have a plan in place so that you can approach the task at hand in a way which will be successful.
You may simply be on LinkedIn with the intention of having a place to maintain and enhance your business contacts online. This does, however, miss the enormous potential that it offers particularly givenn the opportunity it delivers to mix both general networking with sales development, personal promotion and branding. Whatever the overall goal, making sure that you focus on delivering against that with the time you spend is key.
2. Get your Profile right
Your profile is the core element of your presence and activity on LinkedIn and, with your aims firmly in mind, it’s important to get your profile right. This cannot be a simple copy and paste of your CV but rather an online bringing together of your experience, skills and past in a way which focuses on the future and what you want to achieve.
How you present yourself in your profile and the words that you use are important to ensure that you are found for your target areas, attract people to your profile, demonstrate your skills and ambitions and then work to develop your visibility. In addition to the key text and job areas, don’t forget to make best use of the increasing number of applications you can integrate on your profile page to ensure you highlight these to best effect.
3.Connect and Reconnect
It’s important to have a wide network but, perhaps more importantly, it’s eseential to develop one that is going to help you to tap into and deliver in the areas that are of interest to you. As a first key step, make sure that you connect to colleagues past and present as well as clients past and present – that in itself is a very powerful initial base from which to grow your network.
LinkedIn gives you the tools to make this as easy as possible with the ability to tap into your email systems as well as recommendations of people that should be of interest as well as lists of those from your previous companies. With that in place, you will almost certainly have a strong base to work from.
There are now many different ways for you to get involved with others on LinkedIn – this has really been the key change which has led to its rise in both popularity and utility. These parts of the site allow you to start to interact and connect with the people you are looking to link up with as well as demonstrate your areas of expertise and interest.
The key start points should probably include joining and participating in relevant Groups, answering (and asking) questions in the Answers section and posting updates although there are a number of additional areas which can provide good results too. Each will be relevant to different situations.
5. Get yourself a weekly regime
Our time is limited and social media has the very real potential to eat up time at an alarming rate. To avoid this and make sure that we not only use the site properly but without wasting time in the process, it’s important to set ourselves limits and boundaries.
What I personally recommend as the best way to achieve this, is to set out a weekly regime ensuring that we develop our network, connect with potential partners and prospects, and cover the key areas of the site that will serve us best without racking up needless time online.
In future posts, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the specific actions you should take to make sure each of the 5 steps serves you to best effect. But in the meantime if you look at your business aims and start to delve into how LinkedIn can help you achieve them then you will certainly be on the right track.