LinkedIn Basics

By | January 7, 2011

LinkedIn has always been a business-oriented social networking site. So it’s a natural place to set up shop and create a presence in order to connect with other businesses. It helps you to keep in touch with colleagues and customers, find experts, or show off your own expertise. LinkedIn allows you to interact and network with other professionals from across the globe. So where do you start?

Linked in Profile example Elizabeth GoodingBegin by building your profile; make sure it’s complete. You want to put your best foot forward and further your brand. So upload that logo and in the Summary and Specialties section, use plenty of keywords to make it searchable.

Once your profile is ready to go, it’s time to make connections. You have several different options to grow your network. First up, you can use webmail import to see who you already have in your email contact list that is already on LinkedIn. You can also upload your contacts from Outlook, Palm, ACT! and Mac Address. Then you can search for any companies you currently do business with or have had contact with in the past to see if they have a LinkedIn profile. Once you get connected, you can look at that person/company and their connections and try to get an introduction in order to widen your network. You can also send out invite emails to anyone you can’t find on LinkedIn, but would like to connect with.

Once you’ve got your profile up and some connections are made, look through your connections and see if there are any customers whom you could ask to give you a recommendation. This is basically a testimonial that will show up on your LinkedIn page. You should also take a look and see who you are connected with who could benefit from a recommendation from you. Don’t hesitate to start the ball rolling and spread the testimonial love by leaving positive feedback on the recommendation form for your connections.

Become a joiner and check out the LinkedIn Groups. You can search using keywords to find some groups where you can exchange ideas with colleagues or establish your expertise with your target market. Pick a few and prepare to be active, posting news articles or jumping into the middle of an online discussion.

You can also build credibility and display your business know-how by answering questions. Browse the “Answers” section where you can post a thought-provoking question or find a question that you know the answer to. You can check out the various categories, or use the advanced search feature to drill down for more specific categories of questions.

Screen capture of linkedin SlideShare applicationYou’ll also want to check out the LinkedIn Applications page where you can look at the optional add-ons that can spice up your LinkedIn experience. You can add a reading list to show viewers books you suggest. Or you can embed a slideshow presentation. You can even sync your WordPress blog posts to your profile. Adding an application or three can definitely make your business stand out and draw more attention, so take some time to pick out a few that will really complement your LinkedIn profile.

To get the most out of your LinkedIn experience, make sure you log in, update your status and interact with your connections at least 2-3 times a week. You want to make sure your presence is obvious. And if you never log in and engage others, answer or post questions or update your profile status, then you’ll be missing out on the benefits of social media for your business.

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3 thoughts on “LinkedIn Basics

  1. Elizabeth Gooding

    Hey look it’s my profile up there! John – I’ve found LinkedIn to be a tremendous asset to my business. I started using it in a very limited way a few years ago to facilitate quick research and create communities of interest for sharing ideas. I am pretty careful about my network – trying to only link with people who have common interests and objectives so that I can provide value to my network in a real way, members of my network can provide value to each other and so I have credibility if you look at my network. To some degree – you are who you hang out with. Some people just want to have as many connections as you can count. I want to have as many connections as I can count on – and who I am comforable saying can count on me. That means being available to answer questions, posting valuable information and not “over asking” my network for information. I think that is a key part of the “basics” of LinkedIn too.

  2. Wayne Barclay

    I must admit I have been on LinkedIn for a number of years now but have not taken fully advantage of all its benefits. My New Year’s Resolution is quite frankly to become truly “LinkedIn”. Thank you for the pointers it will prove very helpful.

  3. Alin Jacobs

    Great job highlighting the basics. For those interested in leveraging LinkedIn’s full capabilities I would suggest checking out the “How To” videos on You Tube.

    Like Elizabeth, I have been on LinkedIn for a couple of years. Initially I approached building my network with people that I work with, met through various business (face2face and virtual) engagements, and from the various industry related LinkedIn groups that I became active in. Unfortunately, monetizing those relationships was minimal at best.

    At the end of 2009 I became a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker). Sure I wanted quality connections with people I could count on and who could count on me, but I also I wanted to do business and make money.

    What I have learned… it’s not just about your direct connections (LinkedIn refers to them as 1st), its about their connections (my 2nd and 3rd pixel of separation). Currently my 2200-plus connections provide me indirect access to 17-million professionals. With some crude segmentation business rules I have been able to build some strong relationships and even make a buck.

    One final thought… In today’s always connected, email addicted, text messaged, TiVo dependent world — handled effectively, LinkedIn is a powerful relationship marketing tool.

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