LinkedIn has become the defacto standard in business social networking. It has over 70 million members from over 200 countries including the Fortune list of enterprises. Unlike Facebook and Twitter where many use it for personal social networking or business or both, people use LinkedIn exclusively for business social networking. The general idea behind LinkedIn is to build connections, then nurture them to create opportunities. Many sales and marketing professionals who actively use LinkedIn have produced measurable business development opportunities.
Read Bernies updated LinkedIn Tips
15 Ways to Become a LinkedIn Power User.
Since there is so much content and education around how to get the most out of Facebook and Twitter, I thought I’d put together a partial list of ways to get the most out of LinkedIn for business social networking.
1. Complete your profile 100%. The LinkedIn meter tells you how far your profile is completed. Many people overlook this simple tip.
2. Add a recent photo to your profile to humanize your profile. Likewise, many people have no photo in their profile.
3. Include links to your company website and new blog in the “my website” and “my blog” section. Note: use keywords like: “My internet marketing website” and “my internet marketing blog” which you can link to each respective site and create SEO value.
5. Add a short note that personalizes your invitations to connect. The extra touch can make an impression.
6. Visit the LinkedIn application directory (under the More tab) and connect applications of interest to your profile. Applications give others insights into your interests and professional activities. Some applications to consider are:
WordPress application: In the set up, insert the RSS feed URL of your blog if you have one. Each time you publish a blog post it appears in your LinkedIn profile.
Slideshare application: Likewise, each of the presentations you’ve uploaded to Slideshare will appear in your profile.
Amazon Reading List: Displays the books you choose to display. This allows your network to see your reading list.
Twitter: Displays your Twitter stream and allows you to isolate your LinkedIn network’s Twitter stream. You can also post directly to Twitter from LinkedIn.
There are many other applications to consider that can give people insight into your business interests and activities.
7. Update your status in LinkedIn frequently. It’s advisable to update it daily, but not more than once or twice per day. I wouldn’t use LinkedIn the same as Twitter with frequent updates. People will see your updates in their stream.
8. Visit the Answers section (under More) and search out questions being asked in your industry and contribute with your answers. You can uncover people asking relevant questions. Get involved in those conversations.
9. Join Groups in your industry. Search for groups by keyword and find relevant groups to join. Visit the discussions and get involved with your contribution. Add value to these discussions. Don’t sell.
10. LinkedIn has a “recommendations” feature. People can write recommendations about you and vice versa. Write unsolicited recommendations about people you’ve worked with in the past. It will be appreciated. Your recommendations will show up in the stream of updates from LinkedIn.
11. Follow companies of interest to get updates from them. Consider following your customers or prospective customers. Just search out companies and click “follow.” You’ll receive updates from LinkedIn about these companies’ activities. And, you can keep track of new hires and former employees.
Above all, consider LinkedIn a professional networking environment. Use common sense. Do NOT be salesey or spammy. Be useful. Offer value to your network. You can find opportunities if you engage with your network and if you mine the data to uncover intelligence about people and companies. Just be wise about how you use that data. Consider the parallel common sense rule of offline networking at an event. You wouldn’t approach a group of people and slap your business card at them and give them a sales pitch. LinkedIn is all about making connections and building online relationships through professional credibility. LinkedIn can be a very valuable online tool for business development if you use it wisely regardless if you’re in B2B or B2C.
Do you have a LinkedIn social networking success story to share? Add it in the comments section below.