LinkedIn.com is a very buttoned up, business-focused social media network. It’s a very important player in social media marketing for business owners. It’s important to take LinkedIn seriously, but don’t be afraid to get started even if your business isn’t as buttoned up as some of the others you will find on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn claims over 150 million users, most of whom are women but with males not following too far behind. Most of the users of LinkedIn have had advanced education and either work in a job or have their own business.
Perfect Your Profile
Before you even think of connecting and networking with anyone on LinkedIn, get your profile perfected. The profiles on LinkedIn are very extensive and a lot like a super powerful resume. You have your typical resume factors but you also can add in video, slideshows, links to websites and portfolios as well as ask for recommendations and endorsements.
LinkedIn gives you the ability to ask for connections the moment you sign on, with people you know using your email or other networks as the starting point. You do want to do this, but go through and manually click on and off people that you don’t want to connect with. Remember to think carefully about each connection. They need to be professional, relevant, and have the ability to connect you to someone important or vice versa.
Recommendations and endorsements are serious on LinkedIn; your name is forever associated with anyone you recommend or endorse so only provide those when you really do think the person is awesome.
Join Relevant Groups
LinkedIn has many groups where people connect, have discussion, answer questions for each other and more. Do a search for groups that will either help you connect with customers, or help you connect with people who can connect you to customers. Start with just a few because you need to join the groups, and participate in the groups as well. Be cognizant of the time commitment. You can likely handle 10 to 12 groups in an hour a day. There is no point to join if you’re not going to interact; this is how you’re going to network with the right people.
Be a Resource to Others
Now that you’ve got a few connections, and you are communicating in groups, start sharing important and relevant information. Start with the mindset of being a resource to others. If you find a great article that would resonate with people in a particular group, share it and ask for commentary to start a discussion. If you write something, create a video, design an infographic, or anything you feel is valuable to your audience, share it and ask for comments.
Create networking goals that make sense for your business. For instance you might make a goal to meet at least one new person local to you each month, or to connect with five new relevant people each week on LinkedIn, and make at least one introduction each month. If you carve out the time in your day to use LinkedIn, it can be a very powerful business networking tool that can’t be matched.