LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a leading social media product that is geared toward business professionals. It’s where you interact with colleagues from both your current firm, if you wish to, and your former places of employment, if you so desire. It’s also where you connect, or “link” with many other professionals that you know — college classmates, members of your volunteer groups, etc. You’ll be amazed: Once you enter even a small bit of information about yourself LinkedIn will recommend more folks and it’s likely that you will know, and want to connect with, some of them.
Business owners need to be in touch with as many people as possible – networking is crucial to the success of every small firm and a professional network is an invaluable tool to stay in touch with contacts and to meet new prospects. Members can join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to their particular industry and network further within those groups, learning and teaching along the way. As your contacts change jobs, or move away, their LinkedIn profile reflects the changes and you’re still connected. It’s a refreshing alternative to the old days, when if a colleague changed jobs you’d likely never find them again.
Here are the keys to LinkedIn:
1. Network: Connect with everyone that you know and regularly peruse the people that LinkedIn suggests to you.
There are two schools of thought, some people connect with anyone at all and some people are finicky. I’m finicky. I need to know, be acquainted with, or have heard of the good reputation of the person with whom I am connecting. It’s my network and it’s valuable. I like to keep it tight. Other LinkedIn users will connect with anyone who asks. To me that’s like having an open house and posting the invitation on Craig’s List. But if you’re comfortable with that (and believe me many folks are) go ahead.
2. Participate: Post articles, thoughts and comments on LinkedIn regularly. Specialize in a single area. That’s not to say that you can’t ever vary from your chosen area of expertise, but, unlike Facebook, it’s a professional place and members are not likely to shout “Go Yankees” as their status update. Share links to articles. Post industry news. Follow companies that you like. Reply to posts that you find interesting. Comment on your connection’s posts. Be involved.
3. Listen: My father used to tell me that if I was quiet I might learn something. This applies to LinkedIn. If you’re following your industry’s leaders and news on LinkedIn you’ll notice recurring themes and stories and you can act on it. For example, not long ago it became obvious in the social media industry, which I follow closely, that social media thought-leaders were not pleased with the Google+ product. As the reasons why continued to be shared daily I decided not to put my social media clients on Google + for now. That may change on the future. We’ll see.
Remember, establishing your LinkedIn account is important and maintaining it is the key. It will work for you if you work on it regularly. Any questions? Please email me at Carin (at) matterhorncompany.com .
Questions? Please email me, I’m happy to answer them.