I must admit that I am a bit of a social media junkie. Okay, I am a HUGE social media and internet junkie. I spend my days almost entirely on the computer for work and pleasure and it never ceases to amaze me the quality of information that is available on the web. As a lifelong student I absolutely love to read and enjoy soaking up as much information as I get my eyes on, so I naturally love to surf and engage. Which brings me to this topic, specifically LinkedIn.
I started my love affair with LinkedIn a little over a year ago or so and I cannot say enough good things about this platform. It has forged new relationships and help strengthen others in a way not achievable through other methods. I am actually amazed at the amount of people that are not yet using this tremendous professional tool. If I had told you 50 years ago that you could literally reach hundreds of thousands of people, realistically millions, each and every day and that you could engage with them at anytime to talk about business in areas that interest you and them, and that they would know who you are and what you do, and for FREE, you would have been jumping at the opportunity. For me, I am now linked up to more than 300 real and valuable connections who between all of us and our connections I now reach more than 3 million potential connections every single day! That’s right, it’s like the old saying goes, their is strength in numbers and LinkedIn proves it.
Now like anything in life, you have to put some effort in to get something out of it. So you can’t just create a profile and then sit back and wait for connections to find you. You have to engage. Get your feet wet a little bit and test the waters. Here are my proven suggestions on how to get the most out of LinkedIn.
1. Create a personal profile for yourself. Go all out on this one and don’t skip anything, be as thorough as you can be. Those that tend to be professional on LinkedIn are treated as such and people are more likely to want to connect with you. If someone has a mediocre profile or a profile with little to no information, I’m really not inclined to connect as I have no idea who they are, what they do, or why we should establish a relationship. Now with the new features on LinkedIn you can enter slideshows, examples of work, videos and more! DO IT.
2. If your company or business doesn’t have a LinkedIn Company profile page, I highly recommend that you make one. You can do this through your existing personal profile. You can then add your products and services, information on each, link to youtube videos, and more. This is an excellent area for people to follow and engage your business.
3. Engage. What I mean is engage in every way possible. Begin looking for colleagues, business acquaintances, vendors, professionals, even prospects with whom you want to do business with. Send them a connection request or invitation and ALWAYS customize that message to them. Tell them why you want to engage and what’s in it for them. Maybe you’ve done business together, perhaps the person is a vendor, maybe a potential mentor, whatever the reason is, tell them! I have so many amazing connections and I love to hear what they have to say. Then remain in touch. It’s a good rule of thumb to find a way to remain in touch at least once per month with each connection, just to keep the doors to your relationship open. After all the purpose of the connection was to remain in touch and connect.
4. Join the groups. LinkedIn has some amazing groups and I a changing mine all the time based on the scale and level of information made available. When you belong to a group, you are provided a daily report of hot topics, which includes articles, discussions, and more about the topics that most interest you. I find so much helpful information through this discussions that it would literally probably have taken me years to find it on the internet. I save all of the hot topics to a popular folder in my bookmarks for future reading. For some people this is daunting, but if you learn to manage your groups and messages each morning it’s actually about a 20 minute process and I belong to well over 20 groups. Within these groups I am able to participate in discussions, which might be created by me or by others. But we can talk about problems, issues, and overall we help each other. It’s a win win. Kind of like free therapy in a sense.
5. Do not be afraid to connect with people you don’t know. Think of LinkedIn as the largest networking event you’ve ever attended. You have the ability to meet anyone and everyone in the room, and you can choose who most interests you. The purpose of LinkedIn isn’t to connect with just those that you know, but to reach out and connect with new people. Kind of like the old AT&T slogan, “Reach out and touch someone”. But on another note, do not spam. Don’t send out invitations to hundreds of people just to connect. Be careful and connect with people you really want to do business with. This is an opportunity to reach the right target market for your business.