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So you’re on LinkedIn. You signed up because everyone talks about it, and it seemed like a good thing to do. But what now? LinkedIn works great as a business development tool if you understand how to use it, and it’s really not as complicated as you might think.
Start with the way you look at it, firstly it’s NOT a social network. It’s a professional network, and that distinction should guide your tone and activities on there. That’s not to say you shouldn’t demonstrate your personality, but do it a professional way. It’s your professional shop window to the world, and people won’t come back for a second look so I always recommend that you invest a bit of time in developing your profile to be a good online representation of the professional you before you start really using it.
Once you’re happy with your profile you need to build a good network. Building a strong network is key to being successful with LinkedIn, and it should reflect your offline network. I am often asked if you should connect to anyone and everyone, or only connect to people that you know, and there are arguments on both sides of the fence. If you accept every invitation you get, and you’ll have a lot, you’ll end up with a massive network. This is great if you don’t mind a one way conversation. The downside is that your home feed is full of updates that hold no significance to you, and the people you’re connected to likely feel the same about your updates, so where’s the value?
I say you should only connect to people you actually know. That way, you’ll find your home feed is useful and relevant, and your time is therefore better spent. If anyone approaches you for an introduction to one of your connections, you don’t have to have the awkward ‘I don’t actually know them’ conversation.
Now you’re ready to start using the site, properly. You wouldn’t go to a networking event with a briefcase filled with business cards and leaflets and stand in the corner, hoping people will approach you, would you? The same goes online.
Join relevant groups that you can add value to, and get involved. There are a lot of defunct groups on the site, so take time to find ones that are right for you. Look for people in your network, targets, people similar to you, and experts in the field you’re interested in. See what conversations are taking place, join in and have your voice heard. Position yourself as the expert that you are. If you have a question on how others have coped with new legislation, or need a review on a provider that you haven’t used before, throw it open to people that know. This will also help you to build your network. Share blogs or articles you’ve found interesting so that you’re contributing valuable content, and ask for people’s views.
As a firm we’ve had a lot of success on LinkedIn, from the press getting in touch following our articles being shared, through to regular networking groups with hundreds of attendees being established offline after being initially set up online. We even won a client after they came across Nigel Holmes’ profile and seeing ‘James Bond’ listed as one of his interests; something which they were also passionate about!
There’s no big secret to being getting a lot out of LinkedIn, you just need to have a good profile that represents you well, connect to the right people, and then build your reputation and network by getting involved in group conversations. If you’ve tried at LinkedIn and found it a waste of time, are you sure you’ve ticked these three boxes?
Anna Melia, Marketing Manager
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