LinkedIn – network with your feet up!
It’s no secret that Linkedin is a great place to network, share content and updates, find jobs, answer questions and build thought leadership – and best of all, it’s free! But how should you use it to do all of these things successfully? Read on below to find out more.
Making sure that your profile is 100% complete and kept up to date is essential. People searching for contacts and connections will decide whether or not to connect with you based on the information you provide here.
Not having a profile picture on any social media site can be best compared to ‘walking into a networking event with a paper bag over your head’. People are more likely to connect with you if they recognise your face and feel like they are connecting with a real person.
When completing your employment history, use this space as an opportunity to really sell your professional expertise. For example, instead of just using your job title in your current job, expand on some of the key areas of expertise within the industry you are based – e.g. Marketing Executive could become ‘Digital marketing, social media and customer insight specialist at XXX company’. This will also increase the amount of searchable keywords that appear within your profile. Keep this brief though, it should be catchy and to the point. You can go into more detail in the summary section of your profile.
Recommendations and endorsements in LinkedIn terms are a (very public) ‘pat on the back’ from those that know you or have done business with you. If someone has thanked you for your work on a project, be brave, ask them if they would be happy to recommend or endorse you on LinkedIn too.
As well as self promotion, you can also use your profile to promote your own or your employers business. Include a link to the company’s website. LinkedIn in allows up to three web links, so you could also include links to blogs or other social media accounts.
Start by connecting with people you have worked or done business with, people with similar interests or people who share your industry. You can find connections by searching companies or more directly by name. Once you have a good pool of contacts, LinkedIn uses its own intelligence to suggest connections that you might want to make based on similarities in profiles, industries and interests.
Regularly update your status with your own thoughts and opinions as well as sharing those of others. A regular presence in people’s news feeds will start you on the route of a successful ‘know, like, trust’ content marketing process. Use LinkedIn ‘Answers’ to ask and answer questions. This will allow you interact with other influencers and establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.
The relevant content shared on your profile will be seen by all of those within your network. If it is good enough for them to like or share, it will be seen by all of their network and so on – so make it count. Liking and sharing content from a company page is another great way to push it out to a wider audience and further promote your business or employer.
Join groups and generate leads
You can and should use LinkedIn to keep in touch with colleagues and contacts, but its value doesn’t end there. It can also be used to generate new leads for your business. This can be achieved by demonstrating your expertise and thought leadership. Remember DO NOT SELL directly, but feel free to gently push people in the direction of your products and services by enticing them in with relevant, valuable content with links to your website or blog.
Joining groups is a good way to meet and engage with people in the same industry or with similar interests. Providing input on discussions within your chosen groups will help to get your name known and drive professionals in your industry towards your profile and, in turn, your companies profile.
The LinkedIn ‘Pulse’ app allows you to create blog posts that can be tagged to subject groups. Currently when you post content to Pulse, a notification is sent out to all your connections to notify them that you have created a post that may be of interest to them – your content goes directly to their notification centre.
Get to know people
Once you have generated some leads, enticed them in with some great content or thought leadership and invited them to come and meet you, there’s still more work that can be done to clinch the deal.
Finding a common ground with a potential customer or client can set you apart from the opposition. There is no harm in doing your research and knowing a bit about the person you are going to meet before you get there from looking at their profile. In the first instance, knowing a bit about the person can be a great icebreaker at the start of a meeting or networking event. Further down the line, common connections and interests add a personal touch to an initial meeting and leave a more memorable impression, which in turn may lead to that all important sale.
Post meeting or event, follow up with a connection request and message. This is a good time to summarise what you may have previously discussed and how you might be able to work with one another moving forward.
What not to do…
Don’t get too social – keep it professional, while Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc are great for keeping up to date with friends and relatives, LinkedIn has a special designation as a professional network. Remember to keep it that way at all times, across all your posts, blogs, answers and comments, right down to selecting the most professionally appropriate profile picture – one where you look approachable and ready to do business, not the one from your friend’s stag or hen do!
Don’t spam – connecting with people just so that you can send them a direct sales message is one of the great sins of LinkedIn. If you are going to directly message contacts, make sure the people you contact want to hear from you and that your message is relevant.
Don’t use the default connection requests – make it personal. There is an option to add a message at this stage. Something along the lines of ‘It was great to meet you at today’s networking event’ followed by how you might be able to work with each other is a much better way to approach than ticking the ‘We’ve done business together’ box.
Don’t forget about your profile – Check your account regularly for any new connections or messages. It could be a connection from a potential new client or introducer that will look for your services elsewhere if you do not get back to them in good time.
The tools and ways to connect using LinkedIn are endless, using it as a daily part of business can help to increase your network to valuable contact and connections you might never have met in ‘real life’. Start to introduce it as part of your daily working life and see that benefit it can have to you.
Keep up to date with WMT on LinkedIn by following the WMT company page.