LinkedIn matters because it is the largest professional network with over 110 million users in the U.S. alone. Its users are typically better educated and make much higher income than average (46% are college graduates, 73% have income $50,000+).
To make LinkedIn work best in building your network & business, consider these six tips:
- Start with your profile. Create a strong first impression by using a high-resolution profile picture that projects your professional image. Make sure your basic information is accurate and include your current position with a brief description, at least two past positions, education, and a minimum of three skills. Use key search words in your profile, as well as wording that illustrates your value proposition so that your prospects can find you more easily. Include publications, articles written about you or your organization, honors, awards, certifications, civic groups, professional associations, volunteering and causes. Build your profile strength to what LinkedIn calls “All-Star”.
- Make connections. Set an initial goal of 50 connections with an ultimate goal of 500. You can upload your address book to quickly find 50 people who are likely to accept your connection request. Connections should be people you know or have met through business networking opportunities. Keep connections professional. Do not attempt to connect with people you have never met nor have a business connection with. LinkedIn is not a social network.
- Write a LinkedIn recommendation for key clients and contacts. Once your client approves your post, it will show up on their LinkedIn account. Request LinkedIn recommendations from key clients and contacts – this is about quality, not quantity.
- Search for LinkedIn groups relevant to your profession. Participate consistently with your groups by engaging in content, articles, and Q & A. Although you can join up to 50 groups, commit to only those that are a true fit. Among other benefits, you can connect with other group members, without being a first degree connection.
- Download the free mobile app “LinkedIn Connected”. This will allow you to stay in touch with those in your network on your smart phone. This will enable you to stay engaged with your network even when you’re not at your computer.
- Use LinkedIn Pulse to publish content. This is not a venue to sell directly – rather, provide a contribution, relevant useful information, industry trends, and share insights as a subject matter expert. When you publish on LinkedIn Pulse, everyone in your network gets a notification, enabling you to stay engaged in a meaningful way.
Now that you know how to create your LinkedIn profile for maximum impact, spend the next few weeks building your connections. Spend a little time every day executing these strategies to perfect your profile and to get familiar with the platform. LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but you only get out what you put in. Steady, consistent interaction is the key to success.