Ever notice that some people have tons of connections in LinkedIn and some people have…well…one?
While it is easy to sign up for a LinkedIn account, few people realize that their LinkedIn account can open doors to new business partnerships, potentials clients, and a wealth of information to aid in building a business. Although it is not exactly rocket science, establishing strong relationships in LinkedIn is quickly replacing lunch meetings and cold calls. And, the reason why is simple. You can easily meet and introduce yourself to a host of interesting and interested business contacts all with a few minutes. More importantly, you gain exposure to many other business owners and clients from across the street as well as across the world!
There is a failure for business owners when using LinkedIn! About 80% of LinkedIn profiles are filled with resume information instead of business information. If you are asking yourself why this matters, the answer is quite clear to any marketer within a hundred paces. You have to present yourself in such a way that it shows visitors why they would want to meet you and what you have to offer as a connection. Be realistic, when you look at your LinkedIn profile, do you see someone who is credible? Your LinkedIn profile should be the online equivalent of your elevator speech because you only get 9 seconds to impress the person who reads it. The definition of bad is if the person comes away from your profile unimpressed. Worse would be if someone elects not to read it at all.
Let’s start the New Year off right by toning up your profile (no heavy lifting, I promise!) to harness the power of LinkedIn with this quick checklist:
- Profiling: Look at your LinkedIn profile in the Big Picture view. If it is not complete, then deduct points. If it does not use power words that speak specifically of skills, talents, and experiences, then start over. Don’t be afraid to tell people your specialties in your summary and list keywords that add targeted punch to your skill set. For example, I am a marketer, but that says absolutely nothing. But, if you read my profile you find that I specialize in marketing for women and coaches. You have a deeper understanding of my abilities, especially if you are women business owner or a coach. Make yourself stand out by not being a part of the crowd of general adjectives and boring copy.
- Sharing: Start with the knowledge that if you do not approach others, you will not get asked to dance! Add connections to your profile by sending invitations to people in your address book and adding your LinkedIn profile badge to all of your outgoing information like your blog, email messages, and your website. Publicize your profile everywhere you can and you will be surprised how many people start linking to you.
- Joining: This is the fun part! Now that you have a great LinkedIn profile, join some groups. LinkedIn really makes this easy because you can join groups according to religion, education, hobbies, sports, job interests, inspiration, and support. If you can think of a reason or interest, then it is likely that LinkedIn has a group started already for you to join. By joining groups, you will get to send connection requests to group members and they will get to contact you for connections. Many groups supply discussion boards, messaging space, and connection updates.
- Asking: This is the one place that so many people forget to upkeep in their LinkedIn profile. Perhaps because we are concerned about asking for testimonials and reviews from past connections, we shy away from asking for a recommendation or referral. Don’t! If you have had a good relationship with another LinkedIn member, then ask for a recommendation. And…return the favor because their recommendation gives you credentials, but your recommendation gives you exposure in their LinkedIn profile too. It is the best of both worlds.
- Answering: One of the vital assets of the LinkedIn community is often building a network of people who can offer insight into questions you might have about business. In order to find those connections, asking and answering questions is a great way to establish a first contact. By asking questions, you are able to be an expert in a field and offer guidance to someone else. In return, by asking a question, you are giving the opportunity for others to show their expertise. Everyone has questions…now you have network to ask.
- Adding: Use the robust applications of LinkedIn to share what you are doing with your blog, add polls to your profile, and share presentations. Creating a 360 degree link to all of your activities gives the people in your LinkedIn network the ability to follow your message without difficulty or direction. In the end, your LinkedIn profile should be about “working smarter, not harder” to get connections.
LinkedIn might seem like a huge investment in time, but it is really an investment in networking the smart way. Once your LinkedIn profile is set up and you are interacting with your groups, you will find it a pleasure that you look forward to every week. Plus, it is a great reference tool for you to tell potential clients or business partners: “check out my LinkedIn profile.” It is your online portfolio for you and your business.
Lastly…remember: Your LinkedIn profile is searchable in Google. Use your keywords in your description and make yourself interesting!
Now…get out there and get LinkedIn!