Leveraging LinkedIn

Have you created a LinkedIn profile but haven’t figured out to leverage it to help you in your business?  Here are a few pointers to get you going:

Picture Success – No one wants to do business with a faceless mystery person.  Include a picture in which you look professional (no party pictures) and make it publicly visible.  This will also make it easier for new people you meet while networking to find your profile.

Make it Public – Adjust your profile settings so that everything is publicly visible.  Your contact information will only be available to your connections anyway.  Some people are uncomfortable with others having access to their professional history.  If this is you, then remember that you can treat LinkedIn like a resume and include only the positions that are relevant to your current career.

Complete Your Profile – This seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people never fully complete their LinkedIn profile.  This is a shame, because a complete profile sends the message that you have your act together.  An incomplete profile, on the other hand, sends the clear message that you don’t finish what you start.  Talk about bad advertising!  Plus, how are you going to tell people what they need to know about you if you never actually fill in all the blanks?

Work Those Connections – This is the most important aspect of LinkedIn success.  It is a social network, after all.  Start by connecting all of the active email addresses you use to your profile so anyone you’ve ever had contact with will be able to find your profile by email.  Also, make sure you go through the process of sending invitations to all of the people in your various contact lists that already have LinkedIn profiles.

As you network and do business on a day to day basis, add all of the people you interact with at least weekly.  This is the part a lot of people miss.  By sending invitations to connect to new people you interact with on a daily basis, you are creating another line of connection to them and reinforcing that business relationship.  Plus, you can watch your network grow like crazy.

Update Regularly (at least weekly) – On your LinkedIn home page, there is a box at the top of the page where you can post an update.  Do it at least once a week.  Whatever you post here will show up in the news feed of your connections.  Don’t know what to post?  Try to add value to others.  Share articles that your network may be interested in with a note on your thoughts.  Harvard Business Review, as an example, has great informative articles you can share.

Add Value – I can’t emphasize this enough!  When you post something, you want to convey your insight on the topic.  Even if you are not in sales, establishing a reputation for adding value and knowledge will provide a great opportunity for advancement down the road.  If you are in sales, this is a requirement!

Groups – Join groups that consist of peers or target customers.  The more groups you are in, the better, because the more groups you are in, the more people you have access to.  Plus, LinkedIn’s search function will rank you higher in the search results displayed to those you are in groups with, meaning when someone is searching for your skills, your profile is more likely to be found.  Do yourself a favor and join 50 groups, the limit that LinkedIn allows.

Post to Groups – Regularly post value-added information in your groups.  This will give you great exposure.  You can also use groups to post questions to leverage your network to provide creative solutions to your problems.  If you are an IBM Cognos user, you must join a few of the IBM Cognos groups.  They provide a wealth of knowledge from users all around the world!  If you are hosting an upcoming event, you can post information on the event in groups that might like to attend your webinar or seminar.  You will start to notice people reaching out to include you in their network because they like your posts.

Endorsements – Get colleagues and clients to endorse your skills by clicking “endorse” on your profile page.  This will increase your exposure.

Include a Video – Edit your profile to include a short video or slide share about your company or your expertise.  You can host the video on YouTube and you can use your iPhone to record a quick video if you don’t have a camera.  The videos should help show your personality and knowledge.