You may have heard all the news about LinkedIn going public. Their stock reached its zenith of $122.70 before closing at $93.86, valuing the company at just under $8.9 billion.
All this for a professional social network with 100 million users that made profit of $15.4 million in 2010 on sales of $243 million from a blend of recruitment services, online advertising, and premium subscriptions.
While not normally one of the most visible sites, it is definitely one of the most powerful. With millions of people from all over the globe taking part in the conversation on LinkedIn, it is definitely a place I think a professional in any field should be involved.
What I hear when I speak to social media newbies about LinkedIn is that “I’m not B2B, I’m B2C. LinkedIn will never work for me.” Aside from that statement oddly rhyming, that statement can’t be more false. Whether you are B2B or B2C, you can make LinkedIn work for you. I’ve said this quite a bit, and lately people have been asking me to put my money where my mouth is, asking “Can you prove that there is ROI in LinkedIn?” The only answer I can give is to show what it is doing for me.
Not a week goes by that I don’t get leads, emails, job offerings or some form of contact via a potential business deal on LinkedIn.
While my business may be unique, I work with a wide array of clientele that get results on LinkedIn. Not only sales and referrals, but speaking engagements, sharing of content to a wide audience, visits to their websites, and much more. I’m not saying that the majority of your business will come from LinkedIn, but it is definitely a spot where you need to be.
My point here is not to convince you to use LinkedIn. It is targeted to those of you out there who are already registered with LinkedIn (for a week, a year, 5 years, whatever) and don’t have your profile completed and are just waiting for business to come pouring in. Generally those like this complain that they don’t see any results from LinkedIn. Here’s why: you’re not doing anything!
So, get going and see what you can do! Here are my 5 LinkedIn necessities when you are trying to market yourself using this incredible site:
1. Complete Your Profile: A name and title is not enough.
LinkedIn gives you ample opportunity to showcase yourself and your brand. Instead of leaving half of the profile blank (the percentage of which LinkedIn will show you on the right hand side of your profile), why not take the time and complete it properly. Want people to call you? Add a phone number. Want people to visit your website? Add your URL address.
Don’t skimp here…this is where people are going to find you credible or not credible. Oh, and one final thing. Have a professional profile picture…nothing crazy. Not that beach picture from last summer’s vacation and not that picture of you and your dog. This is a site of professionals – look the part! No picture = no credibility in my book. In fact, when I receive an invitation to connect with someone I will most often ignore the invite if they don’t have a photo.
2. Join Groups: Don’t just join – take part.
I know it seems like a tall order, but this is one of the areas where things happen on LinkedIn. Don’t just join groups within your industry, you want to find those groups where your target customers might be.
For example, if you are a Hotel General Sales Manager, then you may want to join groups where meeting planners are congregating. The idea is simple. The groups that are specific to your industry will help you gain news and knowledge in your field while the others will help you share your business and expertise with your target customers. I say join as many as LinkedIn allows (50) and start working them!
3. Ask Questions and Answer Questions: There is a wonderful function of LinkedIn that allows you to answer and post questions to your network as well as LinkedIn at large. This is a great way to get in front of prospective customers, and referral partners – so don’t be afraid to jump in there and share your expertise by answering a few questions now and again.
4. Reply to messages: Nothing drives a social media user up-the-wall more than sending messages that never are replied to.
I’m not saying the mass messages that start with those wonderful words “Dear Friends”, but rather those emails sent to you on LinkedIn. Not interested in what they have to say? Give them a polite “No thank you, but I appreciate your kind offer”, don’t say “Leave me alone” or ignore them completely. Remember this is networking. Would you act like that in a cocktail party? Nope. So use the platform to build relationships and it will come back to you many times over.
5. Complete Your Profile with Testimonials and Applications: Even the most engaging profile can use a helping hand now and again.
The first thing to do is to give some recommendations to a few of your connections in LinkedIn that you know or have worked with. You will very likely get recommendations in return. It is not rude to ask for recommendations either, but make sure it is someone that you know. These are a great way of proving credibility and the quality of your work.