Wondering whether you should be investing time and energy in LinkedIn? Consider this statement made in a February article in the Financial Post: "LinkedIn Corp., the business-oriented service for recruiters, job seekers and corporate networking, is showing investors the sort of promise from a social networking stock that many had hoped to find in rival Facebook Inc."
And success on the profit side means that LinkedIn is doing something right and, according to this article and others, the growth is far from over.
As mentioned last week in LinkedIn: 5 Important and Often Neglected Profile Areas, "LinkedIn is one of the most important social networks for new business owners looking to build their reputation, brand awareness, influence and network of contacts, particularly for business-to-business companies and those whose clientele tend to be white-collar."
Last week's article provided five important and often neglected tips to setting up your LinkedIn profile:
- Create 'Your public profile URL'
- Use a Professional Photo
- Customize the Professional Headline that shows below your name
- Add three 'websites' and Twitter to your profile
- Write a Background overview/summary role that is interesting, informative, concise and typo-free
Now that you've got the bare bones of your profile set up, here a few other areas to pay attention to as you develop your LinkedIn profile and online reputation.
(Asking for) Recommendations
When people don't know us they rely on what others say about us. Recommendations are an important part of building our reputation online.
We can say anything we like about ourselves but when other people speak highly of us and are willing to put their recommendations in their own words this, obviously, has much more impact.
LinkedIn recommendations added to your profile must come from the person making the recommendation. They can't be added by you in any other way and this adds even more weight to them.
While some suggest 'waiting' for others to send you their recommendation, a more proactive approach is often needed. Under 'Profile' in the LinkedIn navigation bar, click on 'Recommendations'. This will take you to the area where you can request a recommendation. You will also manage and approve your recommendations through this area.
You then choose the role you'd like to be recommended for, the name of the connection you would like a recommendation from along with a place to create your request. LinkedIn provides a template that is best customized, both the subject and the content. (see below)
The Personal Touch
While LinkedIn provides a pre-completed template for you to use to request recommendations, it is better to personalize these. It will (my guess) increase the likelihood of a positive response to your recommendation request and may even increase the quality of the recommendation.
The personal touch is best in almost all cases when you ask someone to connect with you, endorse you or recommend you.
List your Experience & Accomplishments
The more information you provide, the more people will find reasons to connect with you. Think broadly about all your experience and training and think of your audience and what they might want to know as you're completing these areas.
Add Your Skills & Expertise
Click on the 'More' button in the top navigation bar to find the 'Skills & Expertise' link where you can add these to your profile. Or, click on 'Profile', then 'Edit Profile', scroll down to the 'Skills & Expertise' area and click on the pencil icon.
Enter your skill or expertise in the box provided and click enter each time one so that each will show up as an individual item. LinkedIn will prompt you with standard terms and these are best used, unless they don't fit. In some cases, you may need to create your own.
This article by Nicky Kriel goes into more detail on how to Sharpen your Skill Sets on LinkedIn.
As your connections are now able to add their endorsement to your skills and expertise, essentially agreeing you possess the skills you say you do, this area is important. That said, there is concern that the new endorsements feature may be undermining the value of the Skills & Expertise area. That's a whole other topic! For now this area is still important as it helps people get an overall sense of your abilities.
Promote Your LinkedIn Profile Online & In Print
Add your LinkedIn profile to your email signature, your business cards, letterhead and other marketing/print materials, and to your website and social networks. Make it easy for people to find you on LinkedIn, and of course this includes creating a distinct URL or personal profile URL.
Check out our article 6 Ways To Make It Easier For People To Find You On Social Networks for other suggestions.
Connecting With Others
If you're new to LinkedIn the first place to start is with those you know. Start by searching for those you know or by connecting with someone you know who is also connected to many of the people you know. You can also send an invitation to those you're connected to through email by importing your email address book into LinkedIn.
Inviting people to connect with you who have no clue who you are isn't usually good form. In some cases individuals may encourage others who don't know them to connect with them and then that is fine. But when asking to connect with those who do not know you, a personal and tactful approach is needed. In these cases, don't use the standard LinkedIn connect request!
Personalize your request and rather than "I'd like to add you to my professional network" tell them why you'd like to add them and/or how you know them or know of them. An honest and professional approach to making contact is much more likely to result in a new connection than an impersonal and unprofessional approach.
One final tip, think carefully about inviting the connections of your connections to connect with you. If you discover one of your connections is connected to someone who you would like to connect with ask for an introduction or for permission to invite their connections to connect with you.
Share Interesting Stuff
As a professional network what you share on LinkedIn will be quite different from what you share on Facebook.
People are more likely to watch for your name and read your content when what you post is helpful, interesting and relevant to them.
There are many people sharing activity on LinkedIn but Richard Young, the Director of EMEA at Nimble happens to be one of the ones I pay attention to when I'm scrolling through my news feed. Why? Because Richard posts articles I haven't necessarily seen and his posts are helpful, interesting and relevant for me. He will occasionally promote Nimble expressly but mostly he just shares good content. The result, when I see Richard's name come up I also think of Nimble. He is promoting the brand indirectly even when he is not mentioning their name.
As a small business owner myself, one of the first places I turn to when looking to find out more about another business or professional person, known or unknown, is LinkedIn. Often this is because when I search for them online, and if they have a LinkedIn profile, one of the first results that appears is their LinkedIn profile. This can be good news or bad news, depending on what is (or isn't) on their profile!
The value of LinkedIn, to not only job seekers and recruiters but to small business owners and business professionals, has increased exponentially as the use of social networks has grown. Don't neglect this important opportunity to build your online reputation and influence!
image: job applicants/shutterstock