How to get and give endorsements on LinkedIn

Yesterday I received an endorsement notification from LinkedIn that Hela Wozniak Kay (one of the dynamic duo that created Sister Snog) has endorsed me for blogging.  And this got me thinking.  Why blogging?  So I did a little bit of investigation and figured out what the answer was and in this video I share with you a quick behind the scenes look at how you can give and get endorsements for better keywords.

I think the endorsement function of LinkedIn is a great and simple addition to what is already a fantastic connection and recommendation tool.  Whenever we run our social media marketing strategy workshops, LinkedIn is the one tool that 95% of business owners are using (so if you’re not on LinkedIn you should be!).

I hope you like the video and if you are on LinkedIn, click this link and connect with me!  http://www.linkedin.com/in/juliehallonline

 

LinkedIn – not just for headhunters and hackers

Don’t let the recent hacking troubles at LinkedIn put you off making the most of what is essentially a valuable business tool. It offers potential access to an enormous pool of people who are there because they want to make professional business connections. There are more than 9 million Linkedin members in the UK alone* and more than 2 million companies worldwide have LinkedIn company pages.

In theory you and your business could be just a few connections away from a contact that could help to take your business forward or maybe provide that mentor you’ve been looking for. Plus it’s not just about what you can get out of it – it’s important that it works both ways – you might be in a position to provide the connection that could help someone else move forward.

With so much professional talent in one place it’s inevitable that the headhunters would move in, however don’t be distracted by the idea that it’s a giant jobs’ board. It’s true that the recruitment agents are all over it – which is great if you are looking for a job – but you don’t have to engage with them unless you want to. As with any network, or social media, it’s up to you how you use it and who you choose to connect with. The point is that you are in control of your connections and interactions and there is a world of new people looking for opportunities to do business.

For any businesses that markets a niche product or service to a small audience, LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help them connect and stay connected in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago.

Just a few of the advantages of being on LinkedIn:

  • It provides access to high quality business contacts – the average LinkedIn member is 44 years old. There are more C-level executives on LinkedIn, more high earners (earning over £100k) and more university/college educated people than can be found in any other single (English language) business network
  • It’s much easier to make new connections through people you already know, or when prospects can see that you are part of the same interest or industry group
  • It provides a great opportunity to raise your business profile (particularly if you are in a service industry) as an expert and thought leader in your field by sharing  insights and knowledge.  Members are doing just that in more than one million groups on LinkedIn
  • Having a company profile provides additional opportunities to showcase new products and services, helps to direct traffic to the company website and improves SEO
  • It allows businesses to network with key stakeholder groups including media, senior decision makers, potential funders and employees, trade bodies and partners
  • It can help generate sales leads and increase sales enquiries

Tips for making the most of LinkedIn:

  • Optimise your personal profile and keep it up-to-date – make sure you are presenting the right professional image. Set up a company profile with product information and links to news, twitter feeds, and key landing pages on the company website
  • Connect with existing customers and potential targets and share useful/interesting content – not because you want to sell them something, but because you want to keep them informed and engaged
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups, start conversations and get involved in relevant discussions
  • Definitely don’t sell, don’t spam – just start by engaging in conversation
  • Don’t expect instant results – it’s not a quick fix

Any social media engagement can be time-consuming and results might take weeks or months to appear. As with everything any social media activity has to be part of the wider integrated marketing plan. Before starting down that road any business needs to be clear on its objectives – what is to be achieved, with which tools, to target which audiences, and why.

If you think that LinkedIn is just for headhunters, and high-level job seekers, think again. Get in there and explore the opportunities for your business. Make the most of the analytical tools available on LinkedIn and Google to track how things are going and amend activities to suit. (…and if you haven’t already done so change your LinkedIn passwords now.)

*2 April 2012, LinkedIn

 

About the author: Deborah Roweis a chartered marketer, member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and fellow of both the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and the RSA. She has more than 20 years of solid marketing and communications experience which she puts to good use as principal consultant of Sheba MarketingSheba Marketing provides no-nonsense business-to-business marketing support to small and medium-sized organisations that want to achieve great things. www.shebamarketing.co.uk

Big Surprises for Small Businesses: Part 2

After lots of surprises of our own, we were intrigued to know what had surprised you the most once you had started up your own business. So we asked “what has been your biggest surprise since you started running your own business?”

So what have been the unexpected perks, pitfalls, attitudes and opportunities that our Linked-in members have encountered on their business journey so far? Here are the things that have surprised you the most:

How good it feels to work for yourself

There was one other surprise which I think I’ve gotten used to ….. how much fun it is even when you’re biting your nails waiting for the phone to ring 🙂
Narmeen Narmeen

I’m surprised by how much more I love working for myself than for someone else. I just really don’t make a good employee!
Odette Laurie

I can’t believe how quick the days go by. When I was working in a work place for somebody else the time use to drag.
carol curley

A big surprise was that for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was ‘working’. Ease and grace became two common feelings I started to associate with my work – I found my groove. My pitfall, or challenge as I like to put it, is creating structure in my working life. In my previous corporate life, structure was a given, but now it’s something I have to manage for myself as I have so much more flexibility now. I am a person that works well within a structure as long as there’s loads of room in the middle to be creative, so creating my own structure can be a challenge especially as I work independently.
Anne Loyd

Customers

The nicest surprise is how many people LOVE the boutique. The decor, the ambience and the products too. An American customer exclaimed “wow, it’s like The Great Gatsby in here”. That made me smile. 
Rowena Howie

One of the biggest surprises was that my clients received such huge results (and that isn’t to blow my own trumpet but more I believe because I was finally doing something that felt completely natural to me)
Anne Loyd

Making Money

That I can actually earn a good living from doing what I love. I was terrified to leave the corporate world – I’d never known anything different. To actually be able to spend time with my family AND earn money has meant I’ve had the best 18 months of my life.  I’ve met some wonderful and inspiring people that I never would have done otherwise and stretched myself into places I never thought I’d have to go – or fit!
Mary Keeley

The best surprise is how many people are still spending. Revival Retro dresses are on average £160 but I’ve been very pleased to find that my customers are happy to pay the pricetag because they can see how well designed, well made and stunningly flattering our dresses are.
Rowena Howie

A great surprise is that I am getting paid a good sum to write website, press releases, social media and public relations marketing plans. And, I am getting paid to copywrite training webinars and modules for sales and marketing professionals in assisted living communities. This is wonderful because I have realized that I am getting paid for all the training that I received while working as a sales and marketing director at senior communities prior to starting my social media marketing and public relations business.
Diane Castro

Feeling Lonesome

My worst surprise was discovering how lonely it can be running your own business. Being in retail it’s lovely to chat with customers but when it comes to the behind the scenes decision making, never ending admin, targets etc there is only me.
Rowena Howie

Support from Others

I’ve received tremendous advice and support from the people that I’ve met both offline at networking events and online too. It’s also been a lovely surprise to get recommendations and clients via word of mouth, sometimes from people who I’ve met over a year ago! I remember someone telling me in my early days of business that you never know where your next client is coming from and it’s true!
Valerie Eaton

My biggest and best surprise has definitely been the amazing amount of very special, inspiring and wonderful women out there running their own venture too. I love meeting them at networking meetings, helping them and sharing with them. It’s almost like I have a new set of colleagues, but without the politics. I thought I’d be lonely….
Inge Woudstra-Van Grondelle

I agree with some of the previous comments here about all the support I am receiving from other business-owners. This is my 2nd business and it is much different this time around because it seems that I have a much larger “support group” of other business owners. This is a wonderful surprise!
Diane Castro

During and after the launch of GemStone Tech, I was and continue to be surprised at the sheer amount of good will passed around. Having only ever worked in Finance/Banking in the City prior to this, I’m still taken by surprise.
Narmeen Narmeen

Me! I Can Succeed

The other surprise is finding out what you’re actually capable of. I’ve learnt so many new skills since setting up in business such as public speaking, online marketing, writing blogs – things that I would never have contemplated doing or thought I could have done in my previous life in the corporate world.
Valerie Eaton

This may sound daft but my pleasant surprise was that my solutions actually worked! They worked for my own business and then for my clients. Then I became confident about the value I offer and developed a teeny bit of “swagger!” 🙂
Oma Edoja

Thank you, ladies for sharing all your useful and inspiring tips!  Please do share more of your surprises in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out Big Surprises Part 1!

Time saving tips to keep your social media profile fresh and engaging

Let’s face it; many of us have jumped on the social networking bandwagon in some way.  Be it via Linked In, Twitter or Facebook many business people recognise there’s business potential in using social media – especially if their customers and clients are.  But many of us often struggle to turn that potential into reality – the major hurdle often being time.

Busy entrepreneurs and business people know they need to communicate with their network, but

a)        having time for the creative thought process to write a valuable update, and
b)       scheduling that time into busy days

…means social networking often gets tasked to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.

And yet the best profiles (the ones that stimulate business opportunities) are those that are kept fresh.  They’re the ones where the content adds value to an individual’s network (not blatantly sells).  The people who win business or strengthen their social network relationships are those who interact regularly with the medium.

So here are some time efficient tips to help you keep your social media profile fresh.

Make your photo work for you

What’s your photo like in your chosen social media?  Nowadays email add-ons, such as Xobni, check out which email address is linked to a photo in a social network.  This means that people, when they receive an email from you, may well be looking at your image as it appears on LinkedIn or Facebook.  So perhaps think twice about linking your Facebook account to your business email address – especially if you want to post up personal pictures there?

Keep business email addresses and related images purely for professional purposes on your social networks.  Remember that your profile photo will be small when it appears in social media and email.  Opt for a close up of you with a blurred or neutral background.  That way it’s clear it is you and the focus is on you, not your surroundings.

Scheduling in updates

When put on the spot, few of us can think of an interesting profile update.  There are, however, free technologies that help us preset updates and say when we want them to appear.  This means we can brainstorm a number of updates in one go and preset them to appear at different dates and times.  Check out Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and other such applications.  Simple to use, they enable you to be proactive about your profile updates and tweets so you can fit them more easily into a busy schedule.

Linking your different social media profiles

I’m often asked if you should link Twitter with LinkedIn. Personally my preference is not to because I think in the UK, we want to use LinkedIn in a slightly differently way to Twitter.  With LinkedIn, we want to keep up with the people in our business network and find out about developments in their professional life.  Realistically, we probably don’t have time to read about their daily thoughts and activities.  Ideally a LinkedIn update should:

  • broaden our view of what a contact does (so we don’t pigeon hole them for offering just one  service/expertise)
  • increase their credibility in our mind
  • prompt us to get in touch to comment on or discuss the update they’ve posted
  • alert us to changes in their situation, ones which may present opportunities for us too

If your updates are full of tweets and retweets and you’re signposting the minutiae of your day, your contacts may switch off.  Also, do remember how your updates appear to them in LinkedIn, Facebook etc.  When they go into their social network they’ll be looking to get a quick overview of news from all their contacts, not just you.  Avoid swamping their network update page.  Have an entry, make it interesting but don’t repeatedly hog the space. That way they’ll want to read your update and value your involvement as a connection.

Have something interesting to say

And if you’re saying the same old thing in your updates, consider your news from the perspective of your contacts. What would be interesting or valuable to them?  What would make you stand out?  Try some of these suggestions to keep your social media updates fresh and interesting:

  • Pass on information either from yourself or someone else in your network, which would be useful to others contacts
  • Warn them of a forthcoming issue if it’s relevant
  • Invite them to something if they’d be interested in its content
  • Communicate progress
  • Share market news/ intelligence or useful business tips if it will help them
  • Ask their opinion
  • Update them on changes to your role/interest

Keep an eye on your contact’s developments

And just as you want people to note your network updates, you should aim to keep up with theirs.  This means keeping an eye on changes.  If you can’t get to your network overview on a regular basis, then make sure you sign up to receive a weekly LinkedIn (or similar) update email.  It’ll alert you to changes and developments in your network and give you the chance to post comment.  Do make positive comment on specific updates if relevant – your contact will value the interaction and who knows, it could lead on to a business opportunity.

Maintain a sensible number of groups

In LinkedIn you can opt to join as many business groups as you like and receive alerts from them with the latest discussions.  My advice is to keep the number of groups manageable so these discussion alerts don’t swamp your inbox and eat up valuable time.  Blend a sensible mix of groups that relate to your profession (so you keep up with latest practices) and those which your customers/clients would have an interest in.  Do interact with the groups by either posting answers to questions or posing questions yourself.

The social network’s suggestions

From time to time LinkedIn and Facebook will send you suggestions of people to expand your network and it’s worth checking out who they recommend, as it can save you some time having to trawl through.  It’s sensible to go for those you know and who will enhance your existing network (not cause conflict).  At the beginning of the year LinkedIn did a brilliant email alerting people to the contacts in their network who had switched jobs in the last few months.  This was a great prompt to help people reinvigorate contact and see how contacts were doing in their new role. If LinkedIn does it again, do use the excuse to keep in touch.

Any time, any place any where

And if you’re using a smart phone such as a blackberry or i-phone, download the free apps so you can interact with your social network wherever you are.  It’ll mean when you do have a spare 5minutes on the train, or in between meetings, you can check out how your network’s doing and update your status if needs be.



About the author: Michelle Daniels,  Managing Director – Extended Thinking

An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice.    A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results.  She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a chartered marketer and member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Extended Thinking

Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy.  Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth.  Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans.  We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.

www.extendedthinking.com