Are you using LinkedIn? I mean…are USING LinkedIn? It’s not enough just to have a LinkedIn account and accept the occasional invitation that comes across your inbox. LinkedIn is a very powerful, useful, professional social networking tool that should be used as a competitive advantage.
The people you know and the people that know you, can be the difference you need to win new business, find great talent, or build great partnerships. When used well, LinkedIn allows you to find connections you didn’t know you had and re-connect with people you’ve lost touch with and wished you hadn’t.
Everyone needs to decide how much time they want spend nurturing their online profiles, but here are a few easy things you can do to get the most out of LinkedIn.
- Who are you? Be sure to complete your profile with as much detail as you can to help answer the question “Who are you?” from a professional perspective. LinkedIn provides an easy to monitor “Profile Completeness” tool showing how complete your profile is based on categories LinkedIn feels are important to having a strong and complete profile. Shoot for having a 100% complete profile.
- How will people search for you? Think of LinkedIn as a search engine that people use to find you or your expertise. Make sure to use terms that describe what you do and terms that people will use when trying to find you or someone with your experience.
- Add a photo. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional SOCIAL network and is based on relationships. People like photos and it helps make your profile more personal. I recommend using the same photo on all of your online profiles–this allows people to more easily recognize you online (as long as it’s not a photo from 1982).
- Customize your LinkedIn Profile URL. This is any easy thing to do when editing your LinkedIn Profile. A custom URL can use your name instead of a long alpha-numeric URL. Custome URLs are easier to remember, better for search engine optimization, and look better in your email signature or on your business card.
- Use LinkedIn to find people you know. There is no better way to understand the value of LinkedIn than to use it. Start searching for colleagues, friends, and people you trust. Use your contact list or “rolodex” to add and find people you know.
- Promote your Profile. Add your LinkedIn Profile URL to your email signature so people can easily find you online and connect with you. Add it to your Facebook page, or Twitter profile. If you have a blog, add a LinkedIn badge that can link people to your profile.
- Add multiple Links. Be sure to add your other online profiles or links to the ‘Websites’ section of your profile. This creates an easy way for people to find and connect with you outside of LinkedIn.
- Join groups. Groups are a great way to connect with people with similar interests. If you’re a lawyer, join groups related to your practice area. If you’re a marketer, join groups that are related to your customers. I’m certain you’ll find a group that interests you. But, if not, create one!
- Answers. LinkedIn has a great Question and Answer section called ‘Answers’ that allows people to ask questions and get answers using the collective intelligence of their network.
- Companies. Another useful feature is the information found in the ‘Companies’ section. Here you’ll find brief descriptions of companies and all the people you have connections to at that company. A side bar also has numerous stats about the company and the employees who work there.
This is certainly not an extensive list of everything LinkedIn has to offer, but I hope it helps you get a little more out of your professional network.