Getting IN on LinkedIn

In an earlier post we discussed the top 5 social networking sites for serious SMO. Now we are going to begin going into detail about these sites starting with LinkedIn.  Many people have their profile on LinkedIn and build their connections. But what they don’t realize is this channels potential for lead generation, building relationships with decision makers, and saving time and money while networking and building credibility.  To accomplish these goals we will review some basic elements of LinkedIn beginning with a profile.

Profile

LinkedIn is a professional business oriented social site.  Users begin with a profile noting their current and past employment. A summary is written identifying some key successes and recommendations are listed. But, here is where many are not maximizing their opportunities. By including keywords in your profile you will show up in more searches. Also, if your business is location based be sure to mention the location too.  Within the profile a user can add applications to increase exposure. You can include white pages, your blog, twitter account, polls and events, for example. Use these features to keep your connections informed. This is only the beginning though folks. The site offers the ability for companies to build Corporate profiles. If you haven’t done this, we encourage you to do this now. List every aspect of your company, from its location, the number of employees and what you do. Of course your web site should be noted. In your company overview if you manage a LinkedIn group, note it there and provide a link.

Connections

As you build your presence on LinkedIn you build your connections. These may be past or present co-workers, friends and, of course, clients and prospects. If you are using Act or Salesforce to maintain your contacts these are great tools for tracking sales, projects and due dates, for example, but are you kept up to date on all the latest accomplishments or news? LinkedIn allows for this, which in turn allows you to recognize your clients accomplishments and keep abreast of the latest opportunities within their organization. As well, if you have had a hard time connecting with a prospect you may find an opportunity within your LinkedIn connections. Ask for an introduction. Often, people are more receptive to introductions through shared connections.

Groups and Answers

One of my favorite things about LinkedIn is the group’s feature. I belong to several that help me stay informed and up to date on the latest and the greatest ideas and innovations that impact my business. I also use them for research and get advice. A member of a group can either observe conversations and interactions or can initiate or comment on discussions. Either way, it’s a win so long as you are joining reputable groups. Search the key words for the groups that may be of interest to you and your business. See who in your network belongs to these groups. That may help you identify their value. You may find there are not many groups available for your specific interests. If this is the case, you may have an opportunity to establish your very own group.  If you do, be sure to think about the focus of the group and the keywords you will use to gain better exposure and appear in more searches. Then when generating discussions use the same philosophy.

“Answers”, another element I love! When I need to do some research on something I will enter a question or keyword and scroll through past postings and discussions. Often if you or someone from your company is contributing to these questions with answers there is a better chance that you will be labeled an “expert”. This is a great way of building your credibility as someone who can be trusted and someone who is knowledgeable. You gain expertise points if you get a “Best Answer” selection for one of your answers.

Your competition

Stay informed and up to speed on what your competition is up to. Use LinkedIn to see what groups they participate in who is following them and be sure you are following their company profile. Search discussions surrounding them or their products by using the answers, people and company search tabs.

IN closing, stay involved, keep your profile updated, tweet updates, join groups and conversations or build your own, be informed, use keywords and build your connections and exposure. Do all this while not soliciting business or talking about yourself. In other words, network without selling.

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