LinkedIn.com is the largest professional networking site on the internet. While Facebook has more users, the comparison is the difference between having beers after work with friends and going to a Chamber of Commerce after hours event. In other words, they are very different types of networking. Both can be great for business but LinkedIn is a buttoned-up cousin of Facebook.
Being successful on LinkedIn can be a little more tricky than being successful on more casual social media, but it’s not difficult or hard. LinkedIn is simple to use, and very intuitive. It’s not confusing getting around at all. What’s more is that it offers an upgraded version that helps you connect even more but that is completely optional. Most people get by just fine using the free version of LinkedIn.
* Create a strong profile – On LinkedIn your profile is very important. It is your calling card. It’s built like a resume, so have your resume handy as you create it. Don’t exaggerate on LinkedIn; be honest, transparent, and yourself. There are no anonymous LinkedIn profiles. Fill it out completely.
* Join groups strategically – LinkedIn has groups for every interest and even allows you to create your own group if you want to. And it’s free. When joining other people’s groups, ensure that you join the right groups about your industry. Mostly focus on joining groups or creating groups that have members you may want to do business with.
* Create focused groups – If you have a group of customers who would like more access to you, and you have the time to devote, you can create a closed group on LinkedIn that is only open by invitation or by permission. Giving people special access to you that others don’t have can move them further down your product funnel fast.
* Ask for recommendations – When you join LinkedIn, be sure to connect with former clients and customers so that you can ask them to give you a recommendation about work you’ve done for them, or products you’ve created or sold them. Recommendations on LinkedIn aren’t to be taken lightly; they are publically given and carry a lot of weight.
* Build connections carefully – Take the time to build connections that matter. Invite only work-related people to join you, skipping over family and friends unless they have people within their groups that you’d like to connect with. Also, don’t connect with just anyone and everyone: look at their profile, determine if it is beneficial to connect with them before you do it.
Once you join, be sure to keep active on LinkedIn. Your activities are noticed by your connections and can be liked, commented on and shared just like other types of social media. Participation is key with social networking success. Be transparent and selective in your connections and dealings with others.
LinkedIn is a great business social networking tool for business owners who know their target audience and will spend the time to develop highly-targeted content to share. What’s more, they take the time to do it consistently.