More than 770 million users see the value of LinkedIn. For some, their “use” is limited to adding a few profile items then accepting invitations to connect with friends or colleagues. Others though, are making full use of LinkedIn’s suite of tools to engage customers, network with stakeholders or connect with potential employers.
The majority (two-thirds) of LinkedIn users are decision makers or influence purchasing. So whether you are an individual looking to network with peers, a company seeking business development opportunities, or a job seeker it is critical to use it more effectively.
With only a small percentage of the LinkedIn users taking full advantage of what the service has to offer it is quick and easy to get ahead of the curve. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
• Create or Optimize Your Profile – On your profile page the percentage of completeness is displayed. Get this number up to 75% by plugging in the info they recommend. Add a photo. I’m not a big fan of my own photos. But this is an easy way to demonstrate to other users that you are a little more serious about social media. Also, add your past jobs and schools. Even if you don’t put in a bunch of detail under each position this criteria will help connect you to other “networks”.
• Add Contacts – You can add connections by importing contacts from your address book. If you have already done this then search for new ones by name, company or email address. Don’t be hesitant to invite someone to connect and use that “people you may know” box. Most people are on LinkedIn for the same reasons as you and will accept your invite if they are active users.
• Follow Company Pages – This is a great way to stay updated on the happenings within specific organization. In most cases, you’ll have access to regular updates, job opportunities, interesting articles and more. It is also the first step to connecting with their employees and finding common connections.
• Post Status Updates – Try to provide updates a few times each week. These should be a mix of personal thoughts, work-related updates and article posts. The updates are a good way to stay on your contacts’ radar.
• Find & Join a Few Groups – There are plenty of regional, corporate, peer or interest groups. Getting engaged with new groups provides access to knowledge, contacts and discussions with like-minded professionals and potential clients.
• Write a Recommendation – Take a few minutes to write a recommendation for one of your connections. This is a great way to help increase visibility for one of your contacts. Many times they will reciprocate if appropriate.
If you are in a management position or own your own business remember to also set up your company profile. This only takes a few minutes. But it is a helpful step to ensure consistency with your brand and improved organic search results. In addition to a general description LinkedIn provides space for a logo, list of specialties, website address and other information. Once the company profile is live it becomes an active link from your employees pages as well.
One of the factors considered when calculating ROI for many of our clients is billable hours. Using LinkedIn effectively will cost you a few minutes each week. However, if it is done correctly the opportunities for new business created through the exponential power of social media will justify the time you’ve invested.