Saturday, March 24, 2012

Getting the Most out of LinkedIn for Business Success

This past week, one of my clients (Heartland Bank) sponsored the first ever 610 WTVN Business Power Hour (news talk radio). I was the featured speaker for the event and was able to provide several tips for attendees on how to get the most out of their LinkedIn efforts. Below are just a few of the “nuggets” that I shared during my presentation. Hope you like it...

With over 135 million users registered, LinkedIn is the world’s leading social network dedicated to the success of businesses. Much like a “resume on steroids”, there are several different aspects to realizing success with your LinkedIn efforts. If you’re not using LinkedIn yet, you better get on the bandwagon. Businesses of all sizes are using this social network to connect, communicate and do business together!

Ensure that Your Profile is 100% Complete

Whether you’re just getting started or have had a LinkedIn profile for some time, be sure that your at 100% Complete. This means, according to LinkedIn, you have all the necessary information in your profile that includes things such as your current position, education, recommendations, etc. Not only will LinkedIn see you as being complete, those visiting your profile will have access to a wealth of information about you (which can help them decide if they want to connect with you down the road).


One thing to keep in mind…. As LinkedIn adds new features your 100% complete may drop until you activate these new features. This happened recently when LinkedIn added “Skills” to their list of available profile settings. Even long-time users of LinkedIn that had 100% Complete in their profiles had to update with some Skills to get back to being 100%.

Use LinkedIn to Research People, Companies and More

When you are in LinkedIn there is a search box to the top right of the page that has some drop-down options. You can search for People (by default), but you can also search for other types of information such as Jobs, Companies, Answers – just to name a few.

Once you do your search and you see the results, you can also update and refine your results. One tactic you may find useful is to pick 2nd tier connections. These are people that are “connections of connections” – meaning that it will be easy to get an introduction to them if you need to since one of your connections already knows these people. However, they are not yet connected with you, so they are missing out on your updates and all the other information you may be sharing in LinkedIn.

Leverage Technology Whenever Possible

There are tools out there you can use to also help ensure that you’re getting the most out of LinkedIn. One of these, called LinkedIn Maps (http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com) helps you visualize your network with a graphical representation of your network. When you do this, you can see quickly if you have any concentrations in specific areas (and if you need to do a better job of connecting with others that could help lead to business). Visit the link and see what your “map” looks like, then see if you need to modify your networking strategy.
From my LinkedIn Map, it's obvious that I've got a lot of "blue friends". These are all of my fellow WSI colleagues from around the world. As a business owner, it's nice to know this because my "revenue" potential from these connections is minimal - but they provide me with an excellent source of information for "all things Internet related".
Another great tool to help keep you “in the know” when it comes to LinkedIn is called Job Change Notifier (http://www.jobchangenotifier.com). With this handy program, you receive a notification via e-mail anytime someone you are connected to changes his or her job title or description. This is great for letting you know when someone gets a promotion or changes jobs. Not only can you take the time to offer a “congratulations”, but if they move to a different company, there may be an opportunity to take your relationship with them, resulting in NEW business for you. Plus, you may want to reach out and find out who took their place to protect the business you have at their former company. Without a tool like this, it would be impossible to monitor even a handful of connections.

Be Real and Stand Out

In business a genuine “thank you” or personal note really goes a long way to help you stand out from everyone else in the market place. This is just as important when using technology and can really help you stand out. For example, when you are inviting someone to connect on LinkedIn, don’t use the default text that LinkedIn provides and click Send. Instead, personalize your invitation with something like “I really enjoyed meeting you yesterday at the Chamber mixer and would like to connect.” Since most people won’t take the time to do this, your invitations will stand out (and the other person will know you took the time to send them a message instead of just “click and send” like so many others do).

On the “flip-side”, when you get an invitation to connect (and accept), take the time to click on the Send Message link after you click Accept link and say thanks. Something as simple as “Hi Bob, thanks for taking the time to connect with me on LinkedIn. If I can be of assistance to you down the road, please don’t hesitate to let me know.” Not only will they be surprised that you took the time to say thank you, but you’ve planted the seed (and opened the door) for them to contact you for future business opportunities!

Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas on how to get the most out of your LinkedIn experience. If you'd like more help or some personal coaching, feel free to let me know. I'd love to help. Oh, and don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn (just be sure to personalize your invitation!).

~Eric
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