Long ago, social networking proved itself as a fun, interactive way to keep up with friends and family. Now it is proving itself as a great way stay in contact and collaborate with other professionals. As with all professional relationships, employing the right strategy is key to success.
Of the "big three” social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), LinkedIn provides the easiest and most effective platform for expanding your professional network. Without a strategy, however, it can be time consuming and pointless.
Here are the top three areas upon which to focus when using LinkedIn as a tool for your business. If you only use these three tactics, your LinkedIn experience will reap many rewards while saving a ton of time.
Complete Your Profile Correctly
Although setting up a profile on LinkedIn is easy, failing to include essential information is even easier. The reason LinkedIn offers the ability to add a photo, education information and past work experience is to help you earn the trust of your connections. If you come across a potential business partner on LinkedIn, it’s reassuring to see his or her photo, industry experience and education. To add a more personal feel, be certain to include interests and any group and association involvement.
LinkedIn allows users to make their profiles available on search engine indexes. This is another reason to be thorough when filling out a profile. When someone searches for you on Google or Bing, the information in a LinkedIn profile is used to influence what people see in the results.
To ensure information on your profile page is indexed by search engines, go to "Edit My Profile”. Click "Edit Public Profile Settings” then select "Full View”. Also change your "Public Profile URL” to include your name at the top of that page.
Importing Your Contacts
Some may think that it takes too long to build a strong network on LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn boasts some great, easy-to-use tools that will allow you to invite hundreds of contacts in minutes.
To do this, login to LinkedIn and click "Add Connections” located at the top right of the page. You can now import contacts from your personal email (hotmail.com, gmail.com, yahoo.com, aol.com), your work email (Outlook, Apple Mail) or you can upload a contact list (.csv, .txt, .vcf). Don’t worry about duplication; LinkedIn will check your contacts to ensure that you don’t invite anyone that you are already connected to.
Engaging in Groups
Groups are an essential part of successfully networking on LinkedIn. Luckily, they are very easy to join and become active in. The only issue is, how do you decide which groups to join? I encourage you to ask yourself 3 questions before joining any group:
- Are the professional contacts I want to network with active in this group?
- Can I add value to this group by being a member?
- Can I commit a few minutes a week to being active in this group?
If you answer "no” to any of these questions, I would recommend reconsidering joining the group and search for another one that better aligns with your professional goals. To keep your social networking efforts effective, it’s crucial to not "clutter up” your network.
If you apply these 3 techniques to your LinkedIn efforts, you are more likely to develop meaningful professional relationships that you may not have made otherwise. Social Networking as a business tool doesn’t require a lot time to be successful, but it does require a little strategy.
Feel free to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn.
If you’d like to join the Boomer Consulting, Inc group on LinkedIn and take part in the discussions, join here.