What do you want to achieve with LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is used by millions of business professionals, recruiters, marketers, sales people, companies… to find people, hire people, build network, stay in touch, find new prospects, improve SEO… and many other purposes.
1. What is your purpose? Make sure you define clearly your purpose before even creating your profile. If you already have a profile maybe it is time for you to improve it – define your purpose and start from there.
2. Look at what others in your industry do
Now that you have clearly defined your purpose (the reason why you are on LinkedIn) you can use it to see how others in your industry position themselves and network with others. Whatever your industry and target market is you’ll be able to find your competitors there as well as other key players. Learn more about their activities and how they engage with their network.
3. Your profile
Your profile is not your online resume but a place to communicate clearly who do you help and how do you help them. Your headline is the single most important asset so make it interesting and valuable for others so they are interested to learn more about you.
Your headline should communicate who do you help and how do you help them (your target market and your expertise). Complete 100% of your profile so others can learn more about you just by visiting your profile.
Use your profile to answer key questions about you and your company – the summary section allows you to do this. In addition use relevant keywords and tags so people can find you when they search for your keywords.
4. Search engines
You can customize the URL of your public profile by changing it to use your first name and last name or initial and last name… you should use any combination that will help people find your profile in search engines. Think about how most people would look for you and what would they type in search engines.
Some people have unique names and their profiles will show up first in search engines results, some people are called by their last name only, some people use nicknames… this is important consideration (your public URL) so people will be able to find you.
5. Your three external links
LinkedIn allows you to have three links on your profile to your websites or blogs or other social media profiles like twitter and Facebook.
This helps you give more information about you and it is also helpful for SEO purposes for you and your company. Use this links wisely. Based on your strategy you can use your company websites, product websites or simply other social media profiles so people can learn more about you, your expertise and your company.
6. Start building your network
Start building your network by connecting to your current contacts from your emails. LinkedIn can use your contact list to send invitations to connect to your contacts automatically. If you like most people have used different email addresses in the past use them all with LinkedIn to connect with previous coworkers, clients, friends…
These are your first degree connections. The second degree connections are people who are connected with your contacts and you are able to connect with them through your first degree contacts by using invitations.
7. Promoting your company
Make sure your company can be found on LinkedIn. Create a company profile for your organization. When people search for you company on LinkedIn or in search engines your organization profile will show up. The company profile will have links to all your employees who have profiles on LinkedIn.
Use the description of your company to communicate what is important and link to your main website. In addition, use the specialty section effectively and use the right keywords so people who don’t search for your organization can find you.
8. Using the search feature
By using the advanced search feature you can find people by industry, title, location, first name, last name, school… Some of them will be your second degree connections so you can use this information to connect by asking your first degree connections for introduction. This is a powerful feature to grow your network and build high quality connections.
9. Get endorsements
Endorsements on LinkedIn are recommendations you receive from your connections. This is a very useful feature because it allows people who view your profile to see them. The endorsements show the professional skills you were recommended for.
10. Join LinkedIn groups
You should join groups where your target market is already active. You’ll find that by searching for different groups based on different keywords.
By joining a group you can start networking with very targeted audience and build new connections. The fact that someone is a member of your group allows you to connect with them which is a great way to connect with new people from your target market. Be active in your group, use updates and follow their updates to better understand their interests and engage them in an effective way.
11. LinkedIn applications
LinkedIn allows you to enhance your profile by using third party applications. For example you can connect your blog to your profile and automatically posts your latest blog updates into your profile and you can do the same with your twitter account.
You can use presentation applications like SlideShare to show your latest presentations right into your profile. Use third-party apps to make your profile more interesting, useful, engaging and interactive. Your profile should create interest for people to be willing to learn more about you.
12. LinkedIn answers
This is the best place to show your expertise. LinkedIn answers allow people to ask questions about variety of topics and members answer those questions for them. The answers are public and available for everyone to read. Next to your answers there is a link to your profile so people who find your answers helpful will be interested to connect with you. Your answers will also show in the search results.
This is the place to show your skills and attract new connections. You can search current and past questions and answers by categories and keywords.
13. Create your own group
You can create your own LinkedIn group. The groups are places where similar professionals interact and share information. By building your own group you have the opportunity to gather the ideal niche of professionals who are a great place for building new connections and finding high quality prospects. You shouldn’t use your company name as the name of your group.
14. Using the announcement feature
When you have a LinkedIn group you are able to send announcements to the group members and LinkedIn will email them the announcements for you. This is a great feature to promote an important event such as webinar or trade show or new product but be careful because if you use announcements too often you may lose some members because they’ll find you too pushy with your self promotion. Use it wisely to promote important events only – this is different from your regular updates.
15. Lead generation with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful source for new leads for your organization. Large corporations use it to better position themselves, build relationships, improve branding and inform their customers and prospects of new products. Small businesses use it to find new customers and promote their companies. Independent professionals and consultants promote their services and grow their networks.
Sales professionals use it to find prospects as well as to research them before they contact them. Recruiters use it to grow their connections and stay in touch with potential employers. Whatever your purpose is you can use LinkedIn to generate new leads very effectively.
16. LinkedIn as a research tool
Use LinkedIn as your research tool because it allows you to research many individuals and companies. Most business professionals use LinkedIn so you are able to find their profiles, their companies and even find mutual connections. You can also research your competitors and see how they engage with their connections, their activities in answers, groups and their ongoing updates.
17. LinkedIn advertising
LinkedIn allows you to advertise your company, products, service, events, webinars, content… This is a great opportunity to get your offer in front of many new prospects in a short time. Ads allow you to spread your message fast and do it in a very targeted way. You target your ads to show to a certain segment of professionals by targeting them based on location, industry and title.
You pay only when people click your ads and they are taken to your website or wherever you specify your URL in your ad to take them. This is a great opportunity for lead generation and building your network by finding new connections which you couldn’t find through your own network.
18. Your LinkedIn agenda
Consistency is important just like anywhere else. Build a consistent plan and stick to it. For example, your plan might be something like connecting with new people every week, posting updates twice a week, sending announcements about important events once a month, answer three question every week… you get the idea.
By doing this you are building a strong presence on LinkedIn which is great for whatever your strategy and purpose is because new targeted people will find you and connect with you.
19. Be personal and professional at the same time
The key to effective interactions is being both professional and personal at the same time. Professional – because LinkedIn is network for business professionals; Personal – because people build relationships with people not with businesses. Human interaction is critical.
When you send invitation to connect make it personal, when you send announcements and create your updates try to make them personal as well.
20. Integrate LinkedIn with everything else
LinkedIn should be used as a marketing tool integrated with your other networking efforts. You already have other social media accounts so use your LinkedIn profile URL there as well and people from outside will visit your profile and connect with you. Use your LinkedIn profile on your business card as well and many people will visit your profile and connect with you.
Many people have found LinkedIn to be the most powerful place for business networking because most business professionals are already there and they use LinkedIn as their main networking platform. You can do the same and always follow up with people you met at other places on LinkedIn. You can tell your prospects and contacts that you’ll connect with them on LinkedIn and always make sure to follow up there.