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GROW YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK USING LINKEDIN

LinkedIn may not be as sexy as Twitter, or as popular as Facebook, but it could be the most important social network out there for businesses. If this hasn’t been your experience, then check out these power tips for growing your network and your business using LinkedIn.

Make your profile irresistible. And findable.

Start with a professional headshot. No party pictures where you’ve cropped out your friend (except his arm dangling over your shoulder.) No sports teams. No family pets. A recent, smiling photo of you will do wonders.

Complete your profile. That means including all your relevant jobs, both past and present, as well as where you went to school and boards you’ve sat on. You never know how people may connect with you, or what searches they may do.

You’ll also want to write a compelling summary, which means more than just posting your resume. Instead, you’ll want to explain what you do, and why someone should reach out to you. Be persuasive.

Leverage your keywords. Lewis Howes, author of LinkedWorking, suggests placing your best keywords in five specific areas on your profile to improve your “findability”:

  • Your Headline – how you “sell” yourself to the LinkedIn community
  • Current Work Experience –your current work activities as best described by your keywords
  • Past Work Experience – what you did before you got to where you are
  • Your Summary – a longer description of who you are and what you do
  • Specialties – your complete skill set.

By working your keywords into these five tactical areas, more people will find you on LinkedIn.

Add a video. Did you know you could add a video to your LinkedIn profile? By uploading a video to Slideshare.net and enabling SlideShare on your profile you can embed a video on your profile page. Don’t believe me? Check out my profile page and watch the video there.

Build Your Network

Many of your current contacts may already be on LinkedIn; a quick way to build your network is to reach out to people you know IRL (in real life.)

In the primary navigation bar navigate to Contacts > Add Connections. From here you’ll be able to sync your contacts from a Gmail, Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo mail account. Don’t have one of those? LinkedIn also lets you upload your contacts as a spreadsheet instead.

Once you’ve uploaded your contact database LinkedIn will show you a list of all your contacts and give you the option of inviting them all to connect. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t do this! Instead, deselect “Select All.” You should probably only reach out to people already on LinkedIn at this point, who are highlighted within this list with the LI icon next to their name.

Next, you should invite them individually to connect. When LinkedIn bulk invites your contacts, you can’t control the invitation language. Usually it’s something really personal, like, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” I don’t imagine anyone’s going to swoon over that message.

By sending out individual invites—which, admittedly, takes more time—you can control the message, telling the other person why you’re reaching out, how you know her, and perhaps why you should connect. Your chances of building your network will go up substantially using this tack.

Join Groups

Many times after someone’s created their LI profile and connected with co-workers and friends, they’re at a loss as to what else to do. The next step is to join some groups.

Groups can be built around geographical areas, industries, companies, alumni groups or any other social ties. If you’re looking to build your local network, search for “Maine” in the groups search box. (Unless you’re from Albuquerque, but I think that goes without saying.) If you’re looking to connect with people in your or your prospects’ industry, search for “personal trainers,” “HR professionals,” or “manufacturers.”

When you find appropriate groups, join them, and sign up for the daily email digest. This way, you don’t need to come back and visit all your groups every day to see if something interesting is going on. Rather, you’ll get highlights of the group’s activity in an email every morning. If there’s a question you can answer, or help you can provide, you can quickly jump into the conversation.

Answer Questions

Another area you should check out is the Answers section, found under “More” in the navigation bar. You can search for questions in your areas of expertise from other professionals. By answering questions well, you can increase your visibility, make new connections, and establish your credibility. Just make sure your answers are helpful and pitch-free. If you want to add a pitch, you can send a private message after posting your answer publicly.

Dig Deeper

There’s more to explore with LinkedIn. Don’t stop at groups and answers. Applications allow you to add business presentations to your site or promote your business blog. Powerful searches allow you to connect with prospects and clients. You can create LI events to announce upcoming speaking engagements.

In Conclusion

With 85 million users and growing, LinkedIn is posed to explode, and if you’re using social media for your business or professional growth, you can’t afford to ignore it.

I welcome you to connect with me on LinkedIn…just customize that invite, won’t you? :)

If you need help improving your own LinkedIn profile, or want to grow your business using social media, please contact flyte new media today. We can provide one-on-one consulting to help you with all your social media communication and marketing needs.

–Rich Brooks
President, flyte new media

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