Everyone knows that LinkedIn has the potential to be a powerhouse platform for professional marketing.
But the difference between mere awareness of this potential and actually having the motivation to do something about it is significant.
As such, when you combine LinkedIn's potential with the fact that almost no one actually utilizes the platform to effectively capitalize on it, you get a great opportunity to stand out from everyone else and gain exposure to your work and your business.
Here are 8 ways to make better use of LinkedIn and maximize your opportunities.
1. Send Direct Messages with Special Offers
But please don't read this sub-heading and think I'm talking about spamming.
Not at all.
Or selling of any sort, for that matter.
I'm only talking about sending direct messages to people who wouldn't be surprised to receive a message from you in the first place.
In these messages, offer them something for free (and not a link to download your free ebook, for goodness sake).
For example, maybe you're previewing a beta version of a new software and your want to see if they're interested in being a free user. Or maybe you're launching a new service and want to offer them 20 minutes of free consulting related to that service as a means to simply get the word out.
This strategy does two things: it makes them feel recognized since they were "selected" for this offer, and, if they take you up on it, can invokes a level of reciprocity, so they'll be looking for ways to repay you - and likely boosting your work to their networks.
You always have to tread carefully with DMs, but they can be utilized to add value to a relationship, as opposed to spamming people.
2. Republish Your Existing Content
If your company has a blog (and it probably does), republishing your content onto LinkedIn's Publishing Platform is one of the easiest ways to notify your network of the work you produce.
It's literally as easy as copy and paste, and you get to share your content with your LinkedIn network, generating more awareness of what you do and exposure to it for the people who click through.
3. Have Conversations on LinkedIn Instead of Email
It's understandable that email is a lot easier to handle all of your communication through, but carrying out conversations and providing value on LinkedIn creates an association with you and your brand on that specific platform, which can boost loyalty to both entities (you and LinkedIn) at the same time.
Not to get too scientific on you, but this is kind of like Pavlov's dogs.
People start to associate you simultaneously with both LinkedIn and benefit for themselves, so that's where they go to interact with you and provide benefit back to you. It becomes a sort of second nature when they think of you or your work.
And when they're constantly associating you with LinkedIn, that's where their behavior, in sharing your work and networking with you, can really start to pay off for more exposure.
4. Increase Your Connections
A lot of people are hesitant to add people they don't know on LinkedIn, but my personal attitude towards it is if the person looks legitimate and doesn't seem like they'll clog up your feed with political hearsay nonsense, why not?
Especially if you're using LinkedIn's Publishing Platform as a means to republish and gain more exposure for your work - more connections means more people getting notifications every time you publish.
Plus, with more first-degree connections, you also exponentially expand your network with the number of second-degree and third-degree connections.
So accept the connection requests you get, and if LinkedIn suggests someone you might know and you do actually know them, you should definitely consider adding them.
Even if you don't think they're a part of your target audience, they might still see your stuff, love it, share it, and/or refer someone to you when they hear of something that you'd be a good fit for. The more the merrier.
5. Comment on Popular Posts
When you see a story gaining traction - whether it's published directly on LinkedIn or it's comments on a link someone shared in your news feed - it's worth joining in on the conversation.
But don't just join in by saying something thoughtless and generic like "great post", actually contribute to the conversation that's happening around it.
Ask a question, or point out additional data that supports the author's points which wasn't included in the post.
If relevant, post a link back to a piece you've published.
This sends a notification to the poster and anyone else who's previously commented that you're actively participating in their conversation, boosting attention back to you as well as (where relevant) exposure to the article you shared.
6. Ask a Question with Every New Contact Request
When someone sends you a connection request, instead of just accepting it, use it as an opportunity to reach out to find out what piqued their interest in your work or your profile.
This is not a place to do any pitching, so stay away from that, but when they respond to your question, you can in turn respond to provide them even more value, whether that's through more links to things you've published that'll be useful to them, or maybe even an introduction to someone in your network.
Here again is where the principle of reciprocation kicks in - if a person reaches out to you to connect and they find you to be accommodating and helpful, they'll look for ways to do the same for you.
7. Engage with Your Connections' Posts and Milestones
Every time you get a notification that one of your connections is having a work anniversary or has got a new job, like it and offer a personalized message (if you have the time).
The trick here isn't actually a trick, it just lies in the fact that no one does this.
I have a pretty healthy set of connections on LinkedIn myself and it's rare that I get any likes or comments on anything news-worthy that comes through my feed.
And I know it isn't because people aren't logging into LinkedIn - they are - but most users are looking for ways to "get" from the platform rather than to "give".
But for those people who do regularly share, like, and comment, you can bet I look for ways to return the favor for them.
8. Always Have a Call to Action
Of course, the purpose of getting more exposure via LinkedIn is not just for the end result of more exposure. Not in the slightest.
Even job seekers want to turn their exposure into a job opportunity.
And for your company, you'll probably have a goal of turning your exposure into more subscribers, leads, or even customers.
So make sure everything you do - especially the posts you'll be pointing people to - has a strong call to action at the end outlining the next step in your funnel.
In Short: Don't be Afraid to be Active on LinkedIn
The above eight tips will really help you out if you want to get more exposure for yourself, your company, and/or your work on LinkedIn.
But the long story short is this: just don't be afraid to be active on the platform.
No, it's not Facebook, but because it's not Facebook, many people restrain themselves from interacting, often out of fear of not seeming detached and professional.
But the more you seek out opportunities to connect with others via the platform, the more payoff you'll get for your efforts.