I had the pleasure this month of collaborating with my friend and fellow LinkedIn specialist Sarah Santacroce who is based in Switzerland. Chef Dennis Littley, Food blogger and social media super star invited Sarah and I to appear on a special edition of his show “Good Day Google+” to talk about how to use LinkedIn effectively.
Ingredients (Serves one or a team)
1. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve on LinkedIn.
There are many reasons to be on LinkedIn what are yours? It could be a combination.
Broaden your reach
Foster your professional identity
Build the company brand
Drive traffic to the website
Establish thought leadership
Gather market intelligence
2. Identify your target audience.
One of the great strengths of LinkedIn is its advanced search capabilities. Depending on your membership level you can filter your search by multiple criteria including relationship, location, current company, industry, company size, job title, group membership, education, post code, keywords to name just some.
The results can then be stored as a “saved search” for further follow up. LinkedIn will also automatically add any new people who meet your criteria to the list and send you a weekly email to tell you about the additions – a great feature.
3. Decide on your approach i.e. your connection strategy
In the early days, LinkedIn instructed members to only connect with people who they would be happy to recommend. Most people adopt a more open approach these days in the belief that a bigger network will mean more exposure and therefore more opportunities.
However, there is a still an ongoing argument between those who accept all connection requests and those who believe in being much more selective. I know some people who will only connect for example with people they have personally met.
My own approach is somewhere in between I accept about 70% of connection requests.
The maximum number of connections that LinkedIn allows is 30,000.
4. Optimise your profile
What do I mean by an optimised profile? This is a profile where all the relevant sections have been completed, which gives a full, accurate and professional representation on who you are and what you offer today. It should have plenty of social proof in the form of endorsements and recommendations to reassure viewers of your credibility.
LinkedIn helpfully display a graphic on the right-hand side of your profile page on the strength of your profile. You should aim for an All-Star profile status.
Profiles that have been optimised generate 5 times more views than those that have not been.
5. Join and be active in relevant groups
LinkedIn has over 2m special interest groups covering everything from drums and bagpipes to social media marketing.
Groups for many people are where the real action is on LinkedIn, a place where you can demonstrate your expertise, build a reputation, and find and engage with potential customers and collaborators.
You can join up to 100 groups. There is no way you can be active in so many of course but by adjusting your notification emails in settings you can keep abreast of what is happening in the most important groups and occasionally dip into to other groups when a discussion grabs your attention.
Remember that as group member LinkedIn allows you to send 15 messages per month to anyone else in the same group. This is a great way therefore to reach out to prospects who you are not currently connected to and a good reason to make sure to join groups where your potential customers are.
6. Being consistently active and visible
As with all social networks rule #1 is to turn up. Post regularly in your top 5 groups. Try to post an update every day on your LinkedIn home page. Any given update is likely to be seen by only 5% or less of your connections so you are unlikely to annoy connections by over posting.
People often comment to me that they have seen my LinkedIn posts which helps me to know it is working.
7. Remember LinkedIn is a social platform
If you really want to be noticed on LinkedIn, notice other people first. Like, comment on and share their posts. Be generous in giving endorsements and recommendations, when merited.
Recognising and affirming other people’s achievements and skills is the quickest and surest way to be recognised for yours.
8. Develop efficient LinkedIn habits
A recent post in a group I belong asked the question, “What is the hardest thing about LinkedIn that stops people using it?”
Interestingly the most common answer was “difficulty in establishing a regular routine.”
Unless you find a way to incorporate LinkedIn into your daily activity then it is unlikely that you will achieve the results you would like.
People in sales and business development roles can easily justify spending one or two hours on LinkedIn every day but for the average user regularly finding 10 or 15 minutes can be a challenge.
If this is you can I suggest you read this article on how to manage LinkedIn on 15 minutes a day.
9. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publisher
In January, LinkedIn announced it was opening its blogging platform to all members. This is currently rolling out. I was lucky to be one of the members to get early access. Speaking from my own and colleagues’ experiences this has been a great success. The posts appear immediately below your photograph at the top of your profile and gradually build into a library so that even older posts attract new viewers and comments.
What has really impressed me has been the level of engagement. Several of my posts have had more than 150 shares and many comments.
If you are an established blogger on LinkedIn, you might be interested in this research by Paul Shapiro on what makes a LinkedIn blog post successful. He analysed over 3,000 LinkedIn posts – read the full article here.
10. LinkedIn and Google+: a great combination
Whilst LinkedIn is the #1 networking and publishing platform for business it has to be said that at times it can seem a bit dated and lacking in functionality. LinkedIn was born in 2004 before the social media revolution unlike Google+ which is 3 years old and was designed from the ground up as a social platform with lots of great features.
Of course depending on your business it may be that LinkedIn and Twitter or LinkedIn and Facebook are a good combination, but for most business I believe that bring together LinkedIn and Google+ is a rocket fuelled combination.
Indeed, the raison d’etre for this post is a Google+ show where we are talking about LinkedIn – a perfect example. There are many opportunities to cross fertilise both contacts and content between the two platforms.
If you enjoyed this post please share it with others so they can too.
Thanks to Sarah Santacroce for working with me on this post and for Chef Dennis Littley for inviting us both onto his show.
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