Of the many business social networking sites available to managers, LinkedIn is still, by far, the most often used by professionals across industries. Using LinkedIn effectively is critical - here are eight ideas to unlock it’s true potential:
1. Build a comprehensive personal and business profile that reflects your own strengths and skills, as well as those of your organization. Include a link to your company's website, a brief description of your company and links to your blog and e-mail. Adding a photo or logo assists in easy identification – a photo personalizes your profile, while your logo enables strong branding and company identity and completing the "Skills & Expertise" section enables keyword searches by other users.
2. Once your profile is posted, search for connections by going through your contacts and linking with people you know and following their company connections. Browse through their list of contacts and reach out to those who share common ground. If you are linking in with someone you have not spoken with in a while, don’t use the invitation template. "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." Instead, include a sentence or two that lets them know them how you know each other or mentions contacts you have in common.
3. Optimize your profile to “full view”; customize your profile’s URL to be your actual name or company name and include your LinkedIn address on your business cards. Also, add the link to your profile when you comment on blogs or online articles and to your e-mail signature for consistency.
4. LinkedIn recommendations can carry a lot of weight. Request LinkedIn recommendations from people you have worked with by tapping your professional contacts for a few words of endorsement and to name a few positive attributes (great results, good value, personable, etc.) about you.
5. Apply to join an existing LinkedIn group or establish your own group within your area of business or around your niche expertise. By being active in a group, you can engage with others who have common interests and those who are looking to learn from industry experts. LinkedIn has also added information about how active a group is and your connections within the group.
6. Participate in the LinkedIn Answers forum. This is a section, which is categorized, where users can post questions and other users weigh in with business-related advice. Each week LinkedIn features the top experts, helping users to create a thought leadership position.
7. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn offers the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate out of all of the social networks. Less content is generally posted to LinkedIn than to other social networks, which means there is less clutter and a higher consumption rate and click through rates on trackable URL’s.
8. With many of the recently released LinkedIn Applications now offered, it is a tool that should be increasingly relied upon by business professionals. You can now do everything from sharing PPT presentations, import blog postings, reputation monitoring, create polls and add events.
What has been your experience with LinkedIn?