I have used LinkedIn for more than ten years. Yet it wasn’t until 2009 that I really began to understand how LinkedIn could be used as a tool for business development, sourcing vendors, researching clients, and to continuously develop my own personal brand. In 2012 my LinkedIn page was rated in the top 2% most viewed pages on LinkedIn. Now when people say, “So, I signed up for LinkedIn, but I don’t know what I am supposed to do with it. Does it have any value?” I know what to tell them. There is huge value in using LinkedIn! After realizing that people needed help navigating the resource, I decided to put together my own LinkedIn tool kit to take the clueless and turn them into power users in less than two months. If you have no idea where to start and fall into the clueless category, this is for you!
Before we dive in, let’s consider the numbers. LinkedIn has more than 225 million users. The average age of a user is 41 years old with $114,000 in annual income. Every Fortune 500 company is represented on LinkedIn along with more than 2.5 million other businesses representing more than 150 different industries. And the list goes on. If you are in business, aspire to advance in your career, recruit or manage employees, or work with vendors, the answer to the question “does LinkedIn have any value” is a resounding YES! However, as with most tools in sales, marketing and business management that have value, a good outcome requires more than just signing up. You have to put some effort into it and you have to keep working to maintain it. But when you do, you can use it in the following ways:
- SALES PROSPECTING – You can locate and introduce yourself/your company in the accounts you are targeting. Communicating through LinkedIn makes you 30 times more likely to get a response than through direct mail or a phone call.
- GET FOUND – A 100% complete profile on LinkedIn will significantly improve your SEO (search engine optimization) results making it faster and easier for people to find you or your business on the web.
- TALENT OR JOB SEARCH – Looking to top talent for your business, LinkedIn can help. You can search for candidates, create a job listing, verify a candidate’s job experience and reach out to other contacts within LinkedIn who were at the company during the same time for references.
- GET MORE EXPOSURE – LinkedIn has Groups and a Q&A section where members can ask questions about a wide variety of topics. This is a great place to get your most pressing business or professional development questions answered. If you are trying to establish yourself or your company as thought leaders, this is the place to post answers to others who have posted questions.
LinkedIn can be a very powerful business networking tool- one that no sales, marketing, operations, HR or other business professional should be without. LinkedIn has several membership levels ranging from FREE to $500 per month. Evaluate what makes the most sense for you and go for it.
LinkedIn Action Steps
Tip: Use this checklist to develop (or improve) your LinkedIn profile and take advantage of its value. There are more advanced ways of using the LinkedIn network, but this checklist will get you well on your way to being a power user.
CREATE YOUR PROFILE: The main thing you must remember when creating your profile is that it needs to be complete. Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.
- Join LinkedIn and complete the basic information
- Complete employment and education history
- Add a profile summary
- Select an industry and add your specialties
- Create a Public Profile URL
- Determine your Public Profile URL
- Set your contact settings
CONNECT AND RECOMMEND: This is where you build your initial list of potential LinkedIn connections and begin to build relationships with them.
- Upload your Contacts from your e-mail client
- Make Introductions/Invitations to Connect
- Collect at least 3 recommendations from your network. Remember to give is to get. Be proactive.
NOTE: Be selective about the direct connections you make on LinkedIn and the requests you make to connect. While you want to make as many connections as possible, those connections are really only valuable to you if you know something about each other or have a shared business interest or objective. If you accept connections from LinkedIn users you know nothing about and don’t make an effort to first determine the value of the connection before accepting the invitation, it will only make your contact list unwieldy and unmanageable and therefore, less valuable.
ASK AND ANSWER:
- Regularly monitor the Q&A section for questions you are uniquely able to answer.
- Ask questions that can help you do your job
- Identify networking groups within LinkedIn & engage
- Set a Calendar item to “work” LinkedIn
So there you have it – my LinkedIn tool kit. Now you can go from clueless to power user. Remember, it’s only as good as how much you use it and what you put into it. Follow the above and I am sure you will get some great results. I know I have and that’s why I have shared it with you. Happy networking!
A late bloomer, Matt came to professional networking and LinkedIn as way of simply keeping track of business connections. While he has never posted a picture of his cat on LinkedIn, he can claim innumerable blunders and business networking failures on his way to developing a “can’t miss” set of tools for LinkedIn users who want to supercharge their on-line presence.