I’ll admit that when I first started using LinkedIn, I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I was a bit late to the game, joining just about a year ago.
As the months have passed, I’ve picked up a few things, but still wouldn’t consider myself a LinkedIn expert. However, I do know that there are many benefits to using LinkedIn to enhance networking, and trying to gather the most connections is not at the top of the list.
If you haven’t set up a profile yet, or even if you’ve been using the site for a long time, there are some easy tips to keep in mind to get the most benefit out of LinkedIn.
1. Take your time in creating a professional profile. Remember that this is the first impression many people will have of you, including contacts that will hopefully be doing business with you in the future. Make sure your profile presents you and/or your business in a simple, professional manner, and you include a photo.
2. Focus on quality, not quantity. On sites such as Facebook, the focus is on getting the most friends and likes. On LinkedIn, you really want to focus on connecting with the people who can help you the most, and vice versa.
3. Choose relevant groups. If you decide to join any groups, choose the ones that truly interest you, not those that you want to promote to. People will ignore sales pitches in groups anyway. And if you are in a group, select a day of the week to visit the group and interact where you can.
4. Connect offline. Each week, choose 2-3 of your LinkedIn connections and send them a message to chat via phone (meet for coffee or lunch if you’re local). Doing this will grow a true networking group from what you’re building on LinkedIn.
5. Conduct market research. LinkedIn is a great forum for asking opinions. With so many business minds in one place, posing a question about a new marketing promotion could provide a ton of insightful feedback.
6. Find new staff members. When you aren’t networking, LinkedIn has a great tool for finding new employees. With the Advanced Search function, you can search users by years of experience, previous employers, location and more.
7. Gather business reviews. Connections on LinkedIn are usually open to trading recommendations. If you’ve worked with someone before (think vendors, accountants, distributors, etc.) ask them to write a recommendation for you and you’ll do the same for them. This will show up when others search for you, giving your business added credibility.
These tips have just scratched the surface of what you can accomplish through networking on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in delving deeper, I recently came across a free ebook called “How to REALLY use LinkedIn,” which you can find here.
How are you benefiting from LinkedIn? Share your tips in the comments section below.