With more than 467 million members (as at Oct 2016) LinkedIn is the most popular
social network for professionals and one
of the top social networks overall. Every 60 seconds 120 people are signing up for a LinkedIn account across the world, and 70% of LinkedIn users are outside the US. That’s the phenomenon of the digital age and increased use of technology to do business and get connected. But are you using LinkedIn to its full potential?
In January I published some key tips to pimp up your profile. With a complete profile done it’s time to start utilising the tool, and building your connections is a great first start.
Build your connections - The more people you connect with (quality connections, not random people from the other side of the world) the greater your reach when posting, updating, sharing etc. , which may be important to you if you are wanting to leverage your connections for business development or building your personal brand.
View anonymously: So that you don’t feel like you are online stalking, there are a few ways you can view new connections anonymously if this is important to you. The one is to log out of LinkedIn completely and then search for an individuals LinkedIn profile through a search engine such as Google. Another other way is to pop into ‘Private mode’ in your settings. You do this by going to: profile setting/ privacy & settings/ privacy/ profile viewing options/ private mode. That Profile setting area, which you will find by hovering over your little photo in the top left hand corner of your profile page, is a little gold mine of cool LinkedIn features and worth a dig around sometime.
When connecting with someone new remember to personalise the message rather than use the generic ‘I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network’ as it makes it much more personal. State why you want to connect with them and why they should connect with you. Things such as a new business meeting, learning event, networking function, colleagues, old colleagues, old university friends with shiny new jobs etc. Likewise, whenever you accept a request, send them an email thanking them.
Utilise your connections connections: Another thing to consider with new business or possible future employers if you’re meeting someone new for the first time, is to see if you have any shared 1st connections. If you do and one is particularly strong then it may be worth contacting that connection and asking if they could give you a few pointers about the potential client/ employer such as personality style, temperament, key tips etc. A recent example of this is when I received a call from someone putting a proposal together for a large NZ business, and the consultant who I was connected with, saw I was 1st connection with the L&D Mgr from that business. He rang me to ask me what I knew about her, type of person she was, what level of detail she would appreciate etc. In my view of the world this is using LinkedIn well.
Joining groups – Your profile is 5x more likely to be viewed if you join, and are active in groups. Groups enable you to connect with a target audience. Join groups that will be useful to you, and into which you can contribute, and be active, share information, ask and answer questions as this enables you to connect with others and build good will. It’s also a good way to keep up to speed with what’s happening in your area of expertise and industry.
Get active – Unless you only want to use LinkedIn as an address book, get active. LinkedIn states that the best time to post on LinkedIn is between 7am – 9am Tues – Thurs. Try to be active at least once a week as a minimum. Whether it’s sharing a 3rd party article, commenting on a connections article or something they shared, liking etc. Ensure whatever activity you do is relevant – remember it’s your professional brand out there. It is also helpful to give a short introduction to any article you are sharing by highlighting the key message, or commenting on why people should invest time to read it, or your key take away from it. Sharing relevant information with your existing contacts will help position you as a thought leader.
Publish to LinkedIn - Not everyone with a LinkedIn account wants to, or needs to publish articles, it really depends on why you are on the platform. If you want to be seen as an expert in your field or a thought leader then get writing. Your published work is permanent, easy to access and showcases your work to the business world. If you do publish something then make sure you attach good ‘tags’ to the article to ensure it gets picked up in searches. Posts published on LinkedIn are searchable, meaning they can get found by people on the platform looking for information on that topic. They may also be picked up by a Pulse channel which will increase your contents reach which all helps you in being seen as a market expert.
Finally, whenever you publish to LinkedIn, your connections get notified even if they log in a month after you published it. As opposed to a shared article, a like or post update which disappears off their feed pretty quickly, often without them even seeing it.
There are some great useful free resources out there around building your LinkedIn profile and making the most of the online platform. Just google Optimising LinkedIn and you will find many articles and tools to help you build your LinkedIn profile and personal brand, some from LinkedIn themselves, and other online support providers such as Hubspot. Personally I’ve found Kristen Hodgson from Kaleidoscope Marketing a useful expert in this space. She has published a number of books and articles on LinkedIn, with a focus on making the most of social media within professional service firms, and manages to keep it down to earth and real.
If you still aren’t sure about your profile, or would like a second opinion then I’d be happy to carry out a quick audit of your LinkedIn profile to see if it fits the bill, and can help you to reach your goal and purpose as to why you are on there – one of the 467 million worldwide users!