I have always been a little wary of LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Sure, it’s the “most professional” of the networks, but it’s also pretty static. I’ve always thought you should create a profile there and get on with your life. That is, until a client pushed me to explore all of our options on LinkedIn.
Because she was adamant about LinkedIn being incorporated into our strategy, I did an enormous amount of research to try to figure out how we could best use it. Here are my top suggestions as a result of that research:
1. Connect with as many people as you can. This seems like a no-brainer, but I know some folks are picky about whp they say yes to. LinkedIn search serves up results that are ranked by their connection to you. The more people you connect with, the more of their connections you have access to. So, if you know someone (and don’t hate their guts!), accept their invitation.
2. Join the maximum number of groups you’re allowed. Right now, that’s 50. Aside from the obvious points about being able to network with like-minded people and learn new things, the more groups you belong to, the more connections you have access to. And don’t worry; you don’t have to show all of your groups on your profile (please don’t!), and you don’t have to get email updates from all of them.
3. Use an RSS reader to keep up with your network. Rather than getting the once a week network update email, add that feed to your reader. That will allow you to scan your network’s activity on your schedule, rather than when LinkedIn feels like sending you an email.
4. Participate in the Question & Answer forums. You can ask and answer questions about almost any topic, and providing the best answer get you named an expert.
5. Give recommendations. This is a key area of LinkedIn that gets overlooked, because people feel weird about it. It’s also one of the most valuable tools. If a potential client or employer is researching you in advance of your first meeting, you want to have scores of good recommendations. And the best way to get them is to give them.
For more on LinkedIn, I recommend the book I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?.