I have had a profile on LinkedIn for a while now, but as with my MySpace account, I let it languish for a long time. I wasn’t seeing LinkedIn as a place to make connections and find others in my niche. It also seemed heavily corporate, with people looking for jobs more so than small business services or products.
Originally, serving that more corporate-type population was why LinkedIn was established. However, I have recently noticed more activity among small business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. While Facebook offers a more personal snapshot of a person, LinkedIn has really become a good place to create beneficial professional relationships as well as be found by potential clients and customers.
If you are interested in finding out how to use LinkedIn to help grow your business and boost your visibility, here are a few ways to use this social network to do so:
Do a search for people in targeted fields and positions. Send them a request to join your network and be sure to personalize your message.
Create a thorough profile with your photo, websites and title. It is a good idea to include past experience, positions and education as well–the more information you supply, the more ways you allow others to find and connect to you.
Answer questions posed by other members in your community that fall into your area of expertise. “LinkedIn Answers” provides a place for you to view open questions that you may respond to. This is a wonderful way to promote your specific knowledge.
Ask for recommendations of your work and offer to provide them for others. The glowing recommendations you receive will be posted right to your profile.
Develop a targeted group of contacts in your niche and start connecting each other. Try to help others expand their own networks.
Look through your contacts’ networks. Select a few people each month you think would be good to know and request that your contacts introduce them to you.
As with Facebook, LinkedIn offers a way to feed your blog posts right into your profile. Add an application called BlogLink–this supports blogging platforms such as TypePad, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger and more.
Invite people in your network to ask others in their networks to a discussion group or an on-line networking event.
A great tip for increasing your search engine ranking with your website listing: when you go to type in your web address for your profile, you will have several choices in the drop down menu. If you choose “other” you have the option to type in any text you’d like which will then link to your site. Choose the keywords that you think would best get you found when someone searches in the search engines and voila, instant search engine optimization! (LinkedIn is ranked very highly in Google.)
Get some publicity. Many members of the media as well as some of the top bloggers have profiles on LinkedIn. Why not reach out to them and connect? You never know where the relationship will lead. Of course, don’t spam them. Send a polite and personalized message and you will have a spot on their radar.
Finally, don’t forget to add a link to your profile in your email signature. The great thing is that LinkedIn allows you to customize the link to your public profile to include your name. You should always include your social networking profiles in your signature so that every time you send an email, others have a way to connect.
As you know by now, connection is what it’s all about!
Christine Gallagher, MLS, MSIS, founder of CommunicateValue.com, teaches solopreneurs and small business how to boost their business and their profits by using online marketing and social media tools to communicate effectively and authentically. For F.R.E.E. tips on how to build profitable relationships, leverage technology and create your own successful online business, visit http://CommunicateValue.com