by Heather Robinson, Marketing Manager
It’s hard to believe, but LinkedIn has been around for nearly two decades. It was founded in 2002 as a networking site for career-minded individuals, and that focus remains. While other social media sites are geared toward keeping up with friends and family or influencing strangers, LinkedIn remains an excellent way to stay in contact and collaborate with other professionals. As with all professional relationships, employing the right strategy is key to success. Without a strategy, you’re just wasting time on yet another social media platform.
Here are the top four areas to focus on when using LinkedIn as a tool for your business.
Complete your profile correctly
Setting up a profile on LinkedIn is easy. Failing to include essential information is even easier. Ensure that every section of your profile is complete, including a professional profile picture, the About section, work experience and educational background.
Including this information helps you earn the trust of your connections. If you don’t have a photo – or include a photo of something other than your face – you may be perceived as out-of-touch with technology, or your profile may be suspected as a fake. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s research, including a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others.
To add a more personal touch, it’s also helpful to include interests and any group and association involvement. Try not to leave anything blank—the more information you can provide, the better, as long as it’s accurate and professional.
Optimize your profile
You want people to find you when they search – whether they search within LinkedIn or using a search engine. To ensure your profile is available on search engine indexes, go to your profile and take the following steps:
Click “Edit public profile & URL”
Make sure the toggle button next to “Your profile’s public visibility” is set to “On”
Also, change your public profile URL to include your name.
To ensure you show up in the right searches, optimize your profile with keywords. So pepper relevant keywords throughout your profile. This will greatly increase the number of people that discover your profile, and more views can lead to an increase in new connections and potentially more business.
Connect with people you know
Having a robust LinkedIn network ensures you have trusted connections that can positively impact your professional life.
Start by importing your existing contacts. To do this:
Click on “My Network” at the top of the page
Click on “Contacts” on the left-hand side
Click on the “Add more contacts” button
Then you can select the email platforms (Google, Yahoo, Outlook or AOL) to import your existing contacts. Don’t worry about duplication – LinkedIn will check your existing contacts to ensure you don’t send an invitation to anyone already in your contact list.
One hotly debated question is whether you should connect with people you DON’T know on LinkedIn. Once your profile is complete and optimized, you’re bound to start receiving invitations from strangers. Should you accept? Should you send invitations to people you’ve never met?
It doesn’t hurt to connect with people in your industry whom you admire and wish to learn from. Reach out with a personalized message letting them know why you want to connect. But think twice about accepting generic connection requests from people you don’t know. Like other social networking sites, there are a lot of fake profiles and scammers on LinkedIn. They want to gain as many connections as possible to build their credibility, and by accepting their request, you’re essentially legitimizing their profile.
Go for quality over quantity in your LinkedIn network, and you’ll get better results.
Engage with your network
Nurture your relationships with LinkedIn connections by regularly engaging. Like, comment and share their posts and share your own company updates and value-added content. Aim to be helpful and friendly but not overly self-promotional. When connections comment on your posts or send you a message, be sure to respond promptly.
Join groups that align with your professional goals and commit a few minutes a week to being active in the group, sharing relevant information, asking questions and answering questions posed by others.
By sharing relevant content and engaging with your network, you’ll be seen as an active contributor and a thought leader in your industry.
If you apply these four techniques to your LinkedIn efforts, you’re 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 of time to be successful, but it does require a little strategy.
Feel free to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn.
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As the Marketing Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Heather’s primary focus is on developing the firm’s marketing strategy and brand awareness to help drive business results. She manages and executes marketing and business development initiatives, with daily oversight of the website, social media, and thought leadership content. In addition, as a part of the Business Development team, she provides leadership and strategic planning on marketing and communication practices for the firm.