By now, most business professionals have a profile on LinkedIn. Occasionally, I will meet someone new to the business community who does not have LinkedIn, yet. Or, I meet someone from an academic background or in a role in a large organization where they thought they did not “need” LinkedIn. These are short sighted folks, for LinkedIn is the online representation of our in-person network. In years past, you would see a Rolodex on a desk as a representation of an in-person network; others carried a little black book. Yet, LinkedIn is so much more than a list of contacts. LinkedIn is a robust communication tool, research tool, lead generation tool, prospecting tool, as well as a place to showcase our subject matter expertise. And yes, when we are looking for work or projects, it serves as an on-line resume. With this said, let’s explore some ways to get the most out of LinkedIn and discover The Power of Being LinkedIn.
The diagram below can serve as a road map to success when using LinkedIn. Each dialogue box represents a way to generate results with LinkedIn.
Daily Post – Your daily conversation with others on LinkedIn is how you build relationships that will lead to results. Don’t let the automatic updates that LinkedIn provides get in your way. I’ve heard people say the posts they see on LinkedIn are not very relevant, such as “Barry is now connected to Brittany.” I encourage you to scroll down and look for the more meaningful comments that relate to you. These posts can start a conversation and lead to a relationship that leads to business.
Groups – Groups are Golden! These are people that gather around a topic, association, industry, company, anything that provides a shared interest among the group members. Like a daily post, these posts can start a conversation and lead to a relationship that leads to business. Think of daily posts as sharing with people you are connected to on LinkedIn, where groups are people that have a shared interest yet may not be connected on LinkedIn. To make the most of groups, you want to “attend” daily, to participate in the conversation with meaningful commentary and ask thought provoking and relevant questions.
Questions & Answers – In the LinkedIn tool bar you will see the word “More” and the first option in the dropdown is “answers.” By participating in this area of LinkedIn, you can become known as a “LinkedIn Expert.” You earn this designation by answering questions and being chosen as the best answer, multiple times in a specific category. For example, my friend Marko is a recognized LinkedIn Expert on Computers as he has answered so many questions and his answers are chosen as the best answer by the person submitting the question. Again, these posts can start a conversation and lead to a relationship that leads to business. It’s all about building trustworthy and credible business relationships.
Email Integration – If you use Outlook, like I do, there is a plug in you can download to integrate LinkedIn and Facebook into your email feed. An extra box appears at the bottom of your email inbox that will show messages, calendar dates, and more, along with a link to the individual’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles if you are already connected. By the way, there is a Beta version for Gmail. Integration of LinkedIn and Email can drive results by making you aware of connections, opportunities and reminders of previous content.
CRM Integration – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software provides a place for you to keep up with contacts, schedule a follow up, track opportunities, forecast sales and more. When you combine the power of LinkedIn with your CRM software, you can increase results by using LinkedIn as a Lead Generation resource; meaning people interested in your LinkedIn activity can “convert” to a lead in your CRM software. In time, Leads convert to prospects and then to customers. Now you can determine an ROI on your Social Media activity from LinkedIn.
Social Media – By forming a connection between LinkedIn and other Social Media resources you can increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Lead Generation. Here are a few ways to connect LinkedIn to other Social Media:
Twitter– Twitter and LinkedIn share integration via the “Twitter” field on your LinkedIn profile. In order to connect these two, go to LinkedIn tool bar, click on Profile, select edit profile, scroll down and look for “Twitter”. It appears between “Websites” and “Public Profile”. Add your Twitter ID here.
Facebook – You can list your Facebook individual or business profile as a “website” on your profile. As stated above, scroll down till you see “Websites” click on “other” fill in the word “Facebook” for the “other name” then key in your Facebook URL as the website.
Blog – To add your Blog to your LinkedIn profile, go to the LinkedIn tool bar, click on “More” then select “Get More Applications” from the drop down menu. This will take you to the “Applications” page in LinkedIn. Among the many Applications you will find there are two that relate to a blog: “Blog Link” and “WordPress.” Choose “WordPress” if you use WordPress as your Blogging platform, otherwise choose”Blog Link.” Once you set up this app, your most recent blog content will show up on your LinkedIn Profile.
YouTube – To add your YouTube Channel to you LinkedIn profile, follow the same directions from above for Facebook but when you click on “other” key in YouTube and place your YouTube channel URL in the field.
Website – As stated in the directions for Facebook & YouTube you can list your website as one of the three fields for websites on LinkedIn. I encourage you to use one of the three for your website as LinkedIn users rely on this link to learn more about you and your business.
Below the line in the diagram you will find additional boxes with topics and questions I often receive. To learn more about these topics follow the links for “how to” guidelines and definitions.
LinkedIn Ads – You can now separate your personal LinkedIn account from your Business within the advertising area. This allows multiple people to manage the Ad account.
Premium Accounts – “Should I get a premium account?” is something I am frequently asked when I speak on LinkedIn. For most “average users” the answer is no. But for those of us who use LinkedIn every day to build business and stay connected, the answer is yes. Think of the Law of Reciprocity, it asks for a balance between what we give and what we get.
InMail – “InMails are messages you can send directly to another LinkedIn member you’re not connected to. Any member can purchase an InMail, or you can get them with a premium account.” This can be a high pay off tool if you use LinkedIn for Prospecting as InMail has a higher response rate then regular LinkedIn messages.
Lead Generation – Is the act of drawing future prospects to you via the content you share on LinkedIn (in our case) and is considered “Inbound Marketing.” As mentioned above, your Daily Post, Groups and Question and Answer activity can contribute greatly to lead generation with LinkedIn. See this Blog post from HubSpot for a 7 Step Program.
Prospecting – Is more like Hunting and is considered “Outbound Marketing.” Outbound marketing is the activity of reaching out to prospective customers with a relevant message. Examples of Outbound Marketing are Email Marketing, Direct Mail, Cold or Warm Phone Calls and more. With LinkedIn it is the act of looking for prospective customs within LinkedIn, connecting with them, sharing information and forging a business relationship such that they will buy from you in time.
Research & SME – LinkedIn is a great place to highlight you as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) and to find other SMEs. It is this expertise that draws others toward you for discussion and eventually to do business.
LinkedIn Apps – Within the LinkedIn Application section you will find many resources to help you build your business through LinkedIn. I recommend you look at Reading List, Portfolio Display (if you have one) Box.net Files, and Slide Share.
SEO – When you build a robust LinkedIn profile with good, relevant content, then your LinkedIn profile will appear in a high position in a search by a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. To do this, you need to maximize each LinkedIn field. My good friend, David Lanners provides a one page .pdf on Keys to High Rankings on LinkedIn.
Connecting with a Purpose – Versus just collecting connections. Do you have a greater purpose then just to sell someone something? If not, then you may not find LinkedIn as valuable as others. When you are truly interested in helping others before you help yourself, your future is unlimited. My friend and Co-author Steven Covey said it best as habit 5 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Seek first to understand, then be understood.
Good luck using your LinkedIn profile to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. I look forward to reading your comments, please click on “comments” to leave a thought, question or comment.
*** Please join me on June 30 for “DFW Rocks Social Media Day in Dallas 2012” where I will be speaking on the Power of Being LinkedIn with 8 other presentations on Social Media.
Events worth considering
- 07/10/12 Social Media to Mobile Apps, the Next Big Wave
- 07/10/12 AAF Dallas: Trends in Place-Based Media
- 07/10/12 Dallas TechExecs Cocktails & Connections
- 07/17/12 World Affairs Council Summer Member Social
- 07/19/12 SMC Dallas 2nd Annual Social Media Showcase
- 07/20/12 World Affairs Council: Consul General of Turkey
- 07/21/12 Saturday at the Warwick Melrose
- 07/24/12 Author: The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
- 07/25/12 Digital Dallas
- 07/26/12 Network After Dark
- 07/27/12 Watch Party: London Olympics 2012
- 07/28/12 Last Tuesday Happy Hour at the Ritz