LinkedIn has fast become one of the largest and most respected online business networks. According to Wikipedia, it had more then 75 million registered users in August of this year, spanning more than 200 countries.
But how are you using it?
Compared with sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it seems to be regarded as the safest business network to be part of. It is designed around business so there isn’t any of that awkard “do I need to be letting people know what I have for lunch?” moments.
If Twitter is a cocktail party and Facebook a coffee morning, then LinkedIn is a conference, trade show or networking event. We know that people on LinkedIn are interested in talking business and the rules of business seem to be so much easier to understand than all this social/personal/business cross-divide that Twitter and Facebook expects.
But the downside to LinkedIn is knowing how and where to start.
On the face of it, LinkedIn has created a simple and clean looking interface. But stick to your home page and your profile and you are missing out on the huge opportunities that LinkedIn offers.
The trouble is where to find these opportunities and deciding how to use them for your business.
Here are my top 6 ways of using LinkedIn to help build your brand online.
1. Your profile:
What makes your profile stand out enough for someone to scroll down and read more? Get your photo right (professional head shot please – no edited holiday snap shots!), use your Professional Headline as you would at a networking event (you wouldn’t say Owner or Managing Director when someone asks you what you do, would you?) and update your status at least once a month.
Having personal recommendations on your profile is at the very heart of LinkedIn. People buy from people and when testimonials on websites can be, well frankly, made up! – personal recommendations on LinkedIn provide that instant visibility and social credital.
Under the “more” tab on your top menu bar, you will find the option “Answers”. This opens up an enourmous section of LinkedIn that some people don’t even know it exists. Use it to ask questions yourself (highly recommended for technical queries!) but, more importantly for building up your brand, get yourself recogonised as an expert by answering questions. Decide on one or two categories to focus on and track new questions via the RSS feed to save you doing the manual search every day.
4. Advanced Search:
This is when LinkedIn excells. You can search on any of the categories in LinkedIn (people, companies, answers, jobs, groups) but if you want to find new and potentially interesting contacts to speak to, then my top tip is focus on the people who come up as 2nd tier in your filters. These are people who are connected to your current network – so getting introduced to someone becomes much easier than trying to go in cold.
Add the events application from your application directory in the “more” tab and you have the opportunity to not only add your own events, but also to track which events your connections are planning to attend. A great way of getting to meet the right people at the right time (and no, this doesn’t have to be stalking!)
6. Offline LinkedIn:
As with all great online networks, the real relationships happen when they go offline. Remember to connect with your LinkedIn network outside of LinkedIn – pick up the phone, meet them an event, invite them for coffee. LinkedIn is a very powerful network but hide behind your screen and email, you will miss out on opportunities.
There are plenty more ways of using LinkedIn to help build your brand online but I hope these are enough to get you started.
I would love to hear about your success (or in deed horror!) stories of using LinkedIn. So do get in touch either by email, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn (yup – I’m on them all!!)
And if you want to know more about how use LinkedIin and other web tech marketing tools, then hop on over to the www.WebTechClub.com where you will get access to monthly webinars and dozens of “how-to” videos.
About the Author: “Karen Skidmore helps small business owners work smarter and use the right marketing tools so they can attract more of the right clients to their business. To subscribe to her free email newsletter and get access to practical advice and marketing ideas that will move your business forward, visit www.CanDoCanBe.com“