How to get the most out of Linkedin get engaged
LinkedIn was recently described as the masons for business people by the Daily Telegraph (in their top 50 business websites). So if you are in business you need to know how to leverage LinkedIn and other social media websites. I was at a networking event last week and was chatting to a business manager for one of the big four banks and it soon became apparent that although he had created a profile on LinkedIn, he had done little else. You need to engage with social media tools in order to derive any benefits.
Networking is a tried and tested way of getting referrals for small businesses and has been a booming industry for several years now. Hundreds of networking organisations have sprung up across the UK and there have been a similar number of online networks emerge over the same period, perhaps the most well know being LinkedIn.
Most business people are fairly good at networking, once they get the hang of it, and these skills should be transferable to the online environment, but people struggle with it. If you attended a network event would you stand at the edge of the room and just look around, hoping someone would come and talk to you, I am hoping the answer is no, of course, so why do you do it when you network online. You need to get engaged!
So how do you engage?
Most of you will have created a reasonable profile and connected to people you already know, but LinkedIn is so much more than that. To build up a credible, online reputation you need to build your profile using other areas of LinkedIn and we'll take a look at some (not all) of them, explaining why and how to use them.
It's all very well you telling everyone how brilliant you are, but it helps if clients and colleagues are able to give you testimonials " called Recommendations " and users with them are three times as likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches. Testimonials you receive are listed under Recommendations For at the bottom of the Experience section within your profile.
There are hundred of groups within LinkedIn that allow you to participate in discussions, connecting and sharing information with other members " normally focused on a specific subject or geographical focus " and allows you to build up an extended network of people and can help you keep up to date.
Visit the Groups you may like to see what is available and have a look at which groups friends and colleagues are members of. You can also create your own group, focusing on a topic of your own choice and start building up membership where you'll have even greater exposure!
You can create a company profiles " linking employees together " and start building a more rounded picture of your role within your organisation that can be accessed from your profile. Although the companies is still in beta I can't see the linkedin team dropping this, so it is worth creating a company profile.
The companies profile included some of the following information: "
- Website / blog
- Legal status
- Year founded
When visitors access your company profile they can also see the employees (that have LinkedIn profiles). Once you have created a profile you can start building up your products and services, but again I'll leave you to find out more about this feature.
Perhaps one of the most under used areas of LinkedIn (in my opinion) that allows you to demonstrate your knowledge. Questions can be posted within specific areas that focus on sectors and here is a list of the top level ones: "
- Business Operations
- Business Travel
- Career and Education
- Conferences and Event Planning
- Finance and Accounting
- Financial Markets
- Government and Non-Profit
- Hiring and Human Resources
- Law and Legal
- Marketing and Sales
- Personal Finance
- Product Management
- Professional Development
- Startups and Small Businesses
- Using LinkedIn
Within each category there are further groups " allowing you to focus on specific topics " and I have listed the current ones within the Administration category.
- Business Insurance
- Commercial Real Estate
- Customer Service
- Facilities Management
- Regulation and Compliance
I have subscribed to two categories (software development / web development) and review them via an RSS feed in my browser, so I can quickly scan any new questions. If you respond to a question it will be displayed within your profile and other members that haven't already connected to you can also see it when reviewing answers, in much the same way they would when reviewing a discussion within groups.
The person asking the question is asked to select the best answer when closing a question and again this builds credibility within your LinkedIn profile.
Getting involved and engaging with the online community will not only get you greater visibility, but will help you build a online reputation. As a business we can attribute thousands of pounds of business to opportunities created on LinkedIn and other social networks.
Although we initially built up a database of people through face-to-face networking, LinkedIn has provided a fantastic tool that enables us to maintain and extend our business network far more efficiently than off line networking.
You need to explore the LinkedIn website as there are other features I haven't mentioned like WordPress, Reading Lists and Presentations which can all be accessed via the LinkedIn Applications.
LinkedIn: the secret to the online business networks success
Have business networking sites finally come of age?