In a world full of new technologies and online platforms appearing at every turn, it can often be difficult to distinguish the worthwhile from the total-waste-of-time efforts when it comes to self promotion on the Web. We’re here to fill you in on LinkedIn.com, one of the biggest social media giants impacting the online business community as we know it today. You may be wondering what exactly LinkedIn is, how it works, why it’s important and/or how to use it effectively. If so, please read on.
What is LinkedIn?
Similar to other social media sites, like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, LinkedIn is an online community where you and other users can interact, post updates, add photos and display information about the most important product…YOU.
LinkedIn is different from most other popular social media sites because it is geared toward business professionals. Rather than making ‘friends’ with other users you make valuable ‘connections’ on LinkedIn. Think of it as a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, online networking mixer. With the economy and job openings seemingly going by the wayside, it’s time to start getting creative and being proactive about your most marketable asset: yourself. LinkedIn allows you to put your best foot forward and begin building your new image.
How Do I Build My LinkedIn Network?
You can build your online network by making connections with other business professionals you know or have worked with in the past. These can include college friends, professors, current coworkers, past coworkers, club/group/chamber associations, and the list goes on.
First, begin by connecting with your colleagues at your current place of employment. Next, input your email contacts and connect with your entire list within seconds! If you do attend local business mixers, whether through local Chambers of Commerce, or attend niche trade shows, make sure to collect those business cards and check to see if your peers have accounts. Again, if they don’t – send invites to these new friends asking them to create an account and link to you.
With over 35 million business professionals currently using LinkedIn, you can connect and network with like minded business people on both a local and national front or promote your business services shamelessly to your connections! Build your sphere of influence and open up your network tenfold through this ‘virtual handshake’.
What If I’m Currently Unemployed?
If you are one of the many who may be on the look out for a new opportunity, don’t fret – consider your former employers. LinkedIn allows you to find connections you may have from companies where you have worked in the past. Where did you go to school? Where did you learn your craft? Where did you study? You can find people from your past educational institutions or organizations and connect. Simply put in the name of your past businesses/education organizations, and LinkedIn will do the work for you. You might be surprised at who you find and connect with!
Once you have a connection bank, the next step would be to browse your connections’ connections…do you know these people? If so, send them an invite to connect with you. You will be on your merry networking way in no time!
How Can I Personally Benefit From LinkedIn?
Get seen, be heard and connect! There are many benefits of using LinkedIn, whether you want to promote a positive image of yourself online, network with others, stay in touch with business connections, monitor group updates and/or stay up to date on industry news through RSS feeds. In short, LinkedIn provides an open platform for self promotion and business networking, which often go hand in hand.
Looking for a job? In today’s world, submitting a resume may not be enough to land you that dream career that you’ve been striving for. Competition has ramped up, and employers are looking for those who enjoy interacting and engaging within their respective niche. Most interviewers will ‘Google’ your name to see what information comes up, trying to learn more about you. Try ‘Googling’ your name, and you will see that your LinkedIn profile may pop up above other listings for you. If you don’t have an account yet, ‘Google’ one of our names, either Sara Mannix or Destiny Malone (go ahead, try it), and scroll down. Google now offers direct links into social networking platforms (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn). Traditionally, Google only allowed 10 links on the results page…now the 11th is given to these privileged social networking platforms…showcasing YOU.
Your LinkedIn profile is almost like an online resume that people can view at any given time – an open showcase of everything you have to offer. So make the most of it! Beef up your profile with your professional skills, job experience, credentials, you name it. References are even available upon request; meaning, you can request recommendations from your connections. Anyone viewing your profile can then see and read all the recommendations you’ve received, and it adds to your credibility and positive image as a business professional.
How Can My Business Benefit?
You can use LinkedIn to monitor your competitors and keep an eye on other big players in your niche industry. You may find new business ventures, leads or skill sets, and your LinkedIn profile may be priceless for sealing the deal with a potential client or finding that new business opportunity. You can even use LinkedIn to find or pre-screen potential employees.
Google likes LinkedIn! Many search engines consider LinkedIn.com a reputable site and give more weight to those links. Try ‘Googling’ our company’s name, Mannix Marketing, and you’ll likely find our LinkedIn company profile among the first page results. Also, any links you post on LinkedIn to your website will aide in boosting your site’s search engine rankings as well.
Take note that a LinkedIn company profile differs from an individual LinkedIn account. Employees of your company who have individual accounts can actually help build out this company profile, where you can add a company description, links, photo, etc. This provides a sort of mini-website showcasing all your company has to offer and can be accessed from all of your employees’ individual accounts. In this Internet Age, the more information available online that is controlled by YOU, the better.
How Do I Get Noticed On LinkedIn?
Be active! Change your status daily. Make regular profile updates. Comment on your connections’ statuses. Become an expert in the ‘Answers’/’Questions’ section. Create a poll. Add applications to your profile. Start discussions with peers within your selected groups (you can search groups related to your profession, or browse through a list of groups that LinkedIn suggests for you based upon past/present professional expertise). Staying active on LinkedIn is the key to standing out among the other millions of professionals who utilize this networking super giant.
*This article will be featured in the Glens Falls Business Journal in the July issue