This is a guest post by Lior Levin.
LinkedIn has enjoyed explosive growth since its debut in 2003. The real question is whether or not you’re making the most of your LinkedIn efforts and networking in general? LinkedIn is so much more than social networking for businesses and business people – it can totally change how you run your business as a whole.
Here’s some of our favorite tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn experience:
Remember, you’re not on Facebook, Google+, or MySpace here – this is a social network for business professionals. Only interact in a professional manner with other users.
If you take a look at your LinkedIn inbox, you’ll noticed that it’s more like an email inbox rather than a social networking message system. Therefore, you should treat it as such when corresponding with others professionals on the site.
Also, the groups on Linkedin are not like your average Facebook group. They’re a place for professionals to connect, network, and share knowledge. The way you carry yourself and interact with other members is extremely important
Add Your Personality
Anyone can write dry, flat content for their LinkedIn profile, so if you want to attract attention then why not add some of your own personality to your content while keeping professionalism in mind when doing so?
People want to know about the real you, not the person who you want them to think that you are. Remember, this will be the first impression that many get about you. If you’re looking for like-minded connections, then you have to be yourself.
Make sure you’ve completed all areas of your profile – leaving gaps just leaves questions in people’s minds. You’re creating the wrong impression from the outset with an incomplete profile. The more detailed your profile is, the more that people can learn about you; plus it makes you a better candidate for jobs (if you’re looking), projects, networking, etc.
If you need a little help, check out 5 Tips How to Write a Compelling Summary for Your LinkedIn Profile. Even though you do want to be professional, it’s okay to also be interesting and have a little fun with your profile. Remember, most people will not sit there and read an entire book on your page, so keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
Don’t be passive when using LinkedIn – ask questions and get involved in sharing knowledge with others there. That’s a quick way to raise your profile – no pun intended.
Many people aren’t aware of the timeline on LinkedIn. It works kind of like Facebook in that you can see what’s going on with your connections. You can see updates from them and post your own. If you connect your Twitter account, you can even cross-post to Twitter. Plus, you can like, comment, and share posts from your connections.
Take advantage of this feature and use it as a way to get involved and learn more about the people you’re connected with. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get from others once they see that you’re paying attention to them!
When you send an invitation to another LinkedIn member personalize it to make the invitation more enticing – you’re far more likely for your invitation to be accepted that way. By now most members are familiar with the standard invitation message, so they’ll know right away whether or not your request has been personalized.
Doing this will not only make your future connections feel special, but it will show that you have attention to detail because you will have taken the time to write a personalized message. It can be a time-saver to go with what LinkedIn automatically fills in for you, but it only takes an extra minute or two to truly customize your message. So why not give it a try?
Connect With Your Connections
When you accept a connection request then send a short message back to thank the other person or business for connecting with you. What’s the point of connecting if you’re not going to interact? There’s really no point at all and it seems as though you’re just adding others to get your numbers up.
You’ll be surprised at the wonderful response you’ll get back from a simple message back with something like, “Thanks for connecting with me. I’m looking forward to networking and getting to know more about you.”
Remember, this isn’t Twitter, so it’s okay to send back a private message letting your connections know that you appreciate them.
Start a LinkedIn group and make yourself the authority on this topic within LinkedIn – if you don’t take advantage of this somebody else will. Groups are great for networking and learning new things. They’re also great for having discussions.
Many underestimate the value of having a group on LinkedIn, while others just won’t take the time to create one. Don’t let either one of these excuses hold you back from this very useful marketing and networking tool.
Update your profile every few months to reflect changes in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it – especially if you’re changing roles within the same company or moving to another company.
Most people now, especially those involved with social media or Internet related jobs, have new things going on every other month. You want to keep your connections updated with all of your new jobs, projects, accomplishments, etc. It’s easy to create a profile and then forget about it, but this is one that you want to keep updated on a regular basis.
If you can see a new company looking for help and advice in a particular area then try to be the first to help them – adding value is part of your overall LinkedIn success blueprint. Not only will that company be very thankful and appreciative of your help, but they may have some other connections that they can refer you to.
Thus, donating a few minutes of your time can lead to free networking and promotion for your own business or brand.
Make the most of every business email you send out by linking back to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature. You’d be surprised at just how often people follow those signature links.
A great tool for adding social media to your signature is Wisestamp. It’s a Firefox add-on that lets you customize your Gmail signature and add social media icons with links back to your profiles. You can use it to add a LinkedIn icon, among other things, to your signature so that others will click, connect, and learn more about you.
There’s nothing worse than a LinkedIn profile that’s missing a profile photograph of you. Worse again is using a photograph that looks totally different to your photograph on Facebook or Twitter avatars. Stay consistent in how you present yourself.
Also remember that this is a professional environment and your photo should show that. Make sure that it’s appropriate and shows that you mean business. A closeup of your face is best since the default photo size is fairly small. There’s no need to add designs or other effects to your photos; just show people who you are.
Establish the keywords that would most benefit your business or presence on LinkedIn and make sure those same keywords are used liberally throughout your profile – it’s one of the best ways to help people find you.
It’s also a great way to boost your rankings because when others search for you or your website, your LinkedIn profile will show up and will allow you to grow your network. Keywords are always important because you want to rank as high as you can to help increase traffic to your site. Social media profiles are one of the best, free ways to help increase these rankings.
LinkedIn can be one of the best places to find individuals or companies interested in investing in your own efforts. Great things can come from the tiniest of connections.
Of course, you don’t want to go around begging and making yourself look bad. If you’re looking for investors, state in in your profile. As long as your profile is complete and you have those keywords in there, it should be easy for investors to find you. The better your profile is, the better response you’ll get. Again, it’s all about how you present yourself!
Check Your Stats
Look at the statistics available on your profile to see who’s checked your profile and then schedule a time to follow up with them if appropriate.
These statistics are there for a reason and offered for free, so why not take advantage of them? Following up is important because it shows others that you’re paying attention and really serious.
Monitor Your Links
If you’re providing links to external websites or a separate professional blog that you own or contribute to make sure the blog or site is updated regularly and is something you’d want the other members of LinkedIn to actually see – concrete opinions about you can be formed this way.
Inactive and outdated sites don’t add any value to your profile; as a matter of fact, they remove value from your profile. So be sure to remove any that are not of real value and are not useful. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having future investors or employers directed to a horrible website that makes you look bad.
LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for people who are already running their own business, people who are just starting out in their first entrepreneurial venture and for job seekers who need to leverage every resource available to them in the current economic climate. I really hope you find at least some of these tips useful.