For people who enjoy the connectivity of social networks, but don’t want to make it the centerpiece of their lives, LinkedIn provides the perfect option, because it’s strictly business and there are very few interactive options available. Even with this limitation, LinkedIn is enjoying a fairly pronounced surge in popularity these days, because it has added applications and is even mimicking some of the functionality now available in Facebook.
It’s safe to say that LinkedIn has become much more relevant in the last few years than it was prior to that. Of course, LinkedIn has a much different demographic than all the other social media, because of its heavy slant toward business. With the primary users of the platform being business personnel, something like 60% of all LinkedIn users are aged 35 and above, they’re better educated with 72% being college graduates, and they have better income, with 66% earning at least 60,000 per year.
LinkedIn is a valuable resource as a social medium because it deliberately does less than Facebook or MySpace, meaning that its connections are controlled and that it’s very easy to use, with few applications gumming up the works. It’s also laid out much like an address book would be, which trades in on the familiarity of a known useful tool.
Because of the features it does provide, LinkedIn offers an amazing chance for people to grow their social networks and their business contacts at the same time. Here are the best ways to dig a little bit and make use of all the terrific features available in LinkedIn, so that you can maximize your usage of this fantastic social media platform.
Using the LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn Profile is extremely important and valuable, in that it conveys to the rest of the world most of the relevant information about you, and it’s what you want business contacts to know. In order to make best use of your LinkedIn profile, there are some important steps you should take. First of all, upload a great photo of yourself, because first impressions begin with a good photo.
Make sure to complete the entire LinkedIn profile, including previous positions you have held. Your email address should be listed on your profile, so that it’s very easy for people to contact you. It’s a good idea to think of your profile as a kind of SEO page, so use keywords liberally throughout your profile. For instance, if you are a software developer, make sure to sprinkle keywords all throughout your profile that have to do with design, development, and software. You should even link to your website using these keywords.
If you have a blog, you should link to that blog through your RSS feed. Once you feel that you’ve got your profile set and that it conveys everything about you which you would like business personnel to know, don’t just leave the profile for months on end without updating it. Things happen in your business life all the time, and these should be reflected in your profile, especially since this will keep you in the news feed for all your contacts.
Use LinkedIn connections
Whenever you meet someone in a business setting, you should invite them to connect with you through LinkedIn, using a customized invite text. If you don’t have many connections at the moment, you can find more using LinkedIn search, and since the company search is very good for this function, you should make special usage of the company search.
You have probably overlooked some connections that you have, so it’s a good idea to browse through the connections of your immediate LinkedIn circle, to find all those people whom you may have forgotten about when you started setting up your connections. Lastly, browse through your contacts from Gmail and Outlook, as well as other software contact lists that you have, to be sure you haven’t overlooked someone whom you do want to connect with in a business setting.
Messages and recommendations
Definitely make use of LinkedIn Messages, so that you can inform all your connections about business events, job openings, and other things going on in your business life. This is a good way to de-clutter your email inbox, and to segregate your business communications, so that you know right where to look for all business communication. You can also use LinkedIn recommendations to provide or request recommendations from your contacts, and you can offer your input to reviewers on the kind of key words and themes you’d like to have included.
Making use of LinkedIn applications
As mentioned above, there are not a great many applications used by LinkedIn, and that is actually one of its appeals, because it can provide a streamlined user experience for all people making use of the platform. However, there are some useful applications which you should take advantage of on LinkedIn, so that you can connect to your own content. WordPress and Bloglink are two that most business people would benefit by using, and Slideshare is great for showing presentations which you may have compiled for business purposes.
Build a LinkedIn reputation
Using the LinkedIn Answers section, answer all questions you can about yourself and your business expertise, and you should also join some groups so that you can get your name recognized by a number of business people using the platform. When choosing groups to join however, be careful to limit your participation so that you end up only joining a number of groups that you can truly be active in.
Joining a number of groups that you don’t really intend to be active in may end up doing more harm than good, because you’ll seem like an uncaring, inactive participant. If you don’t find any groups which you think are appropriate for your interests, you might want to consider starting up your own group, to see if there are other like-minded individuals on LinkedIn.
Use LinkedIn for business development
There are number of ways you can use LinkedIn to promote your personal business development. First of all, you can use the search to find contacts which may be relevant to you at specific targeted companies. You can also use search to discover background information about individuals who are at those same companies you’re interested in.
LinkedIn is also a terrific platform for connecting with prospects and new clients, so you should use it to the utmost for making these kinds of connections. You should even make a point of keeping in touch with former clients on LinkedIn, because you never know when they might want to avail themselves of your services in the future.