By Bob DeStefano
LinkedIn is the most ‘professional’ of the major social networking Websites, used by over 135 million business professionals worldwide. Since it is largely focused on B-to-B connections, LinkedIn should be a big part of your social media marketing strategy.
Most people only use LinkedIn as an online resume. To take LinkedIn to the next level and use it as a marketing tool, put the following recommendations into action.
Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an interactive resume – on steroids. In addition, to information about your work experience and education, LinkedIn allows you to enhance your profile with the following Web 2.0 capabilities to showcase your expertise:
- Status Updates: One of the best ways to keep your connections informed about your happenings is by posting ‘status updates.’ Status updates are brief statements that you feel your connections will find useful. In addition, they can include links to related content on your Website or third-party Websites. To appear active in the LinkedIn community, post useful and actionable status updates on a regular basis.
- Blog Posts: LinkedIn allows you to easily syndicate your Blog posts to your profile. As you post to your blog on your Website, your LinkedIn profile will be automatically updated with your posts’ title, abstract and link to the full post on your Website.
- Presentations: If you post PowerPoint presentations to SlideShare or Google Docs, you can display these presentations in your LinkedIn profile.
- Events: Are you speaking at an event or sponsoring a training session? You can post a LinkedIn Event to help promote and generate interest in your event.
- Tweets: If you are an active participant in Twitter, you can integrate your LinkedIn Status Updates with your Twitter Tweets to keep your connections and followers informed.
- Recommendations: LinkedIn makes it easy for you to request recommendations from your connections. A collection of glowing recommendations that underscore your expertise and experience will significantly enhance your profile.
- Reading Lists: If you want to share your reading interests with your LinkedIn connections, you can link you profile with Reading Lists by Amazon to display the books you are reading.
- Polls: LinkedIn Polls are a market research tool that allows you to collect actionable data from your connections and the professional audience on LinkedIn.
- Creative Portfolios: If you have a creative portfolio you want to display, post your portfolio of creative work to the Behance Network. Once posted, LinkedIn allows you to showcase your work in your profile.
- Huddle Workspaces: Huddle gives you private, secure online workspace packed with simple yet powerful project collaboration and sharing tools for working with your LinkedIn connections.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn Community Features
In addition to your profile, LinkedIn provides a number of community features that allow you to communicate and collaborate with other LinkedIn users, including:
- Groups: LinkedIn Groups help you stay informed and keep in touch with people that share your interests. You can create your own LinkedIn groups or join any number of groups that focus on your area of interest or expertise. Participating in LinkedIn Groups by adding value to the discussion is a great way to expand your circle of influence.
- Answers: LinkedIn Answers is a great way to share business knowledge and connect with like-minded colleagues. You can ask pressing questions and get fast, accurate answers from your network and other experts worldwide. In addition, you can showcase your knowledge, expertise, and interests by answering questions.
- Company Pages: Company Pages are a powerful research tool that you can use to find companies to do business with or research competitors. In addition, you can create a Page for your company to showcase your expertise. You can publish your company’s description, headquarters address and Website address. To further your company page’s value, you can post targeted jobs, recruitment videos, information about products and services and company images.
Leverage LinkedIn as a Business-building Tool
LinkedIn can be a valuable business tool to help you grow your business and catapult your career. The following strategies will help you use this resource to produce results:
- Brand Your LinkedIn Address: When you create a LinkedIn profile, it will create a LinkedIn Web address that will appear like a collection of odd letters and addresses. LinkedIn will let you customize this address to create a branded LinkedIn address with your name. My LinkedIn address is http://linkedin.com/in/bobdestefano.
- Become an Recognized Expert: By answering LinkedIn questions and actively participating in LinkedIn group discussions, you have an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert and thought leader.
- ‘Warm Call’ with Sales Prospects: If you’re in sales, you can use LinkedIn as a ‘warm calling’ tool. If there is a prospect you want to reach, you can easily find them on LinkedIn and see how you are connected to them. If you have an active list of LinkedIn connections, you are most likely only two or three connections away from the prospect. Use LinkedIn’s introduction features to ask one of your connections for an introduction.
- Find Rock Star Employees: Successful business people are always looking to find valuable employees that will ensure their future success. LinkedIn provides you with an easy place to find them. You’ll have access to a pool of talented individuals within your LinkedIn groups. You can also post a job directly on LinkedIn to attract a talented set of candidates.
- Keep Your Connections Current: Whenever you meet someone, connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to expand your influence and keep connections up to speed on your accomplishments.
I use LinkedIn on a daily basis to grow my business. To get a first-hand look at my LinkedIn strategy, connect with me at http://linkedin.com/in/bobdestefano.