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How to Use LinkedIn to Create Unique Opportunities for Your Blog Business

This guest post is by Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living.

I thought I had my social media game covered on all fronts: Twitter, check. Facebook, check. Even Skype, which I like to include as a necessary tool for connecting real-time, check-check!

Until I realized that I am missing one giant piece of the puzzle, and it is not even a new kid on the block. It is an old timer that has been around for a while and still goes by the same name: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn? Really?

LinkedIn chocolates

Image copyright Nan Palmero, licensed under Creative Commons.

It made sense to have a LinkedIn profile when I was in the corporate environment, and when I was looking for jobs and needed to show off my resume and qualifications, or even when I wanted to be found by other potential employers—it sure was fun to fly out to Google headquarters for an interview in 2007, entirely thanks to LinkedIn. But is there more to LinkedIn?

You probably wonder, as I did, just what could it do for you as a blogger, a writer, or a solopreneur. What more can you really do on LinkedIn besides creating a nice static profile, connecting with a few people in your network, getting a couple of recommendations, and then letting it collect digital dust?

Apparently, a lot!

I was missing the point altogether. Now that I’ve had a chance to dig in deep under the surface of LinkedIn, I want to tell you why it is smart and even profitable to have a professional presence and engagement on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has become the world’s largest network for business professionals—it has over 100 million members. It is the best place to market yourself as such, and network with other business professionals. Facebook and Twitter combined cannot give you that space unless you spend a lot of time targeting the right people. Maybe.

LinkedIn, however, specializes in this: it makes it very easy for you to connect with like-minded business professionals in your field.

Since I started using it, I have had one of my raw vegan recipes featured on a food network show online, met an amazing client, connected with several coaches and speakers for possible collaboration, and am scheduled to be on a Chicago TV station later in October to promote my book. All from using LinkedIn Groups and ranking for the right keywords—and I am not even a serial user … yet!

Why you should make time for LinkedIn

First, allow me to anticipate and then respond to a common reaction:

“You mean I have to keep up with yet another social media platform? You gotta be kidding me!”

Yes, and I’m not kidding! Listen, make the time, even if you have to take a “vacation” from Facebook and automate or minimize your Tweets for a few days—or even a couple of weeks. Explore and learn to use LinkedIn well and integrate it into your schedule. It will do wonders for your blog and business.

You really cannot afford to ignore LinkedIn any more. Here are four reasons why you should embrace it, starting today:

  1. The LinkedIn community approaches networking with a business-oriented mindset and wants to hear about your business, your offers, your products, and your services.
  2. The spirit of the LinkedIn community is to support one another as business professionals, as opposed to Facebook and Twitter where we are first peeps and friends before we talk business.
  3. The LinkedIn professionals are very likely decision makers in their business and your connection with the right person could mean real business and profits.
  4. LinkedIn search database is used widely for finding candidates not just for a traditional job but also for consulting, contracting, targeted projects, and other unique opportunities. You do want to show up when they search for your target keywords, don’t you?

Take your game to the next level

Let’s get on with the show. Here are three fundamental ways you can build your presence on LinkedIn to make it really work for you.

Build out your professional profile first

You need to have an attractive profile. First, complete these sections using keywords relevant to your expertise and areas of interest:

  • your professional headline
  • the Your Summary section
  • the Your Experience section.

As you fill out the above information, remember to not write in “resume” language—create something more along the lines of sales copy about who you are and what you can offer. Think about presenting yourself in that light to the world, and think about prospects, potential clients, and business partners who read this.

Think of this information as your brand in action. Make sure you stay consistent in terms of the way you present yourself on your website and other places online.

Build up your LinkedIn recommendations

The recommendations on LinkedIn are essentially testimonials from your network telling about their experience of working with you. I know that these have brought me a lot of credibility over time, and it is a really good way to display social proof.

Use the following rules for building up your recommendations:

  1. Find testimonials from clients and business partners in your email or on your website. Then contact them and ask them if they wouldn’t mind sending that to you in the form of a LinkedIn recommendation. Obviously, you’ll first need to connect with them on LinkedIn.
  2. Seek out your trusted friends, colleagues, and mentors whom you respect and offer to first write them a sincere recommendation. Then ask if they have a good story about interacting with you to send as a recommendation.
  3. Offer to write recommendations for people with whom you have worked in the past. Be sincere and specific in your praise, and do so without pushing to get a recommedation in return. Choose the people wisely, preferably only those with whom you are still on good terms. Most will likely write you a recommendation in return if they feel the same way about your work.
  4. If people offer to write a recommendation for you, thank them profusely and remember to point out your specific areas of strength and expertise that you want them to emphasize. Most will gladly comply.

Join the right groups and engage in the dialogue

The heart of LinkedIn is in its groups. Groups are the forums where discussions take place among hundreds of thousands of business professionals with a polished and clean user interface. I love the layout and the features in the Groups; it is far more advanced than any in Facebook and other online forums I have used.

Here are some quick tips for engaging well in groups:

  1. Choose groups that interest you using Groups search.
  2. Look for active membership participation by browsing the discussions.
  3. Look at the Groups rules and be aware of them.
  4. Join your Groups of choice and watch first before jumping in to contribute.
  5. Contribute to an active discussion first before starting your own discussion.

The Groups are where the learning and the networking happen. I find myself constantly drawn to the knowledge that flows freely in the LinkedIn Groups. There is usually enough critical mass in a group that if anyone presents false information, it is quickly balanced out or corrected by other members. My experience has been extremely positive. In fact, a few weeks ago, I worked up the courage to create my own group! Who knows, maybe I have inspired you to do the same thing too?

It’s never too early or too late to jump on LinkedIn. Even if you are blogging just for fun or thinking about starting your own business down the road, there is only an upside to having a network on which you can rely and from which you can draw both inspiration and opportunity. LinkedIn fits that bill perfectly!

Farnoosh Brock is a corporate escapee, writer, photographer, yogini, and coach at Prolific Living. She empowers you to crush your daily fears and live life on your own terms with smart habits. Naturally, she would love to connect with you on LinkedIn!

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Comments

  1. Corporate Escapee…I like that Farnoosh. Been preaching that for a couple years now. Trying to get my own peeps to go down that path.

    I started using LinkedIn and Groups as an avenue for sharing my small-business-targeted blog posts a few months ago. I can honestly say I’ve gotten better quality traffic from there than I do from Facebook and Twitter.

    Now that I started a personal blog project, your advice is a timely reminder that I can use LinkedIn for this too. Thanks! =)

    • Farnoosh says:

      Sherwin, it’s my favorite title, ;)!! You can use it too – and as for telling others, give up now. No matter how unhappy some people may be at their jobs, I have found that it is a very personal decision and all we can do is inform but not persuade or preach and I know you mean well and want the best for them, but it is a complex issue to get anyone to think logically when it comes to giving up income for happiness (and potential for more income!) – trust me, I were one of those people ;)
      And THANK YOU for the testimonial on LinkedIn. So happy to hear of your good experience. Hit me up on LinkedIn, love to connect and thanks for your comment.

  2. Joining groups and engaging have helped me a good deal on LinkedIn, Farnoosh. Power tips here.

    Give freely, share value, connect with others and your business will grow. Social networks are different in structure but keeping the same basic idea in mind – give freely, receive generously – helps you prosper on the platform.

    Thanks for sharing!

    RB

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Ryan, nice to see you again. Oh so good to hear that you have had good results with LinkedIn too.
      Thank you so much for the smart tips!! Give freely, receive generously – I am gonna steal that one but I will quote you if I use it, I promise. Thank you for sharing, Ryan.

  3. Thank you so much for this article Farnoosh. I have had the exact same problem. I’ve been using LinkedIn for years, when I was working as a lawyer. However, since I became a freelance writer and work at home mum I’ve been wondering how on earth I can really make use of LinkedIn and you have given me some great ideas. And I don’t even have to scrap the first profile completely; I can make the fact that I am a lawyer turned writer work for me. Thank you!

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi dear Sharon, you are very welcome. Wow, a lawyer – impressive. So is working for yourself, if not more so :)! I am SO so glad you took some information away and feel free to contact me if I can help you in any other way – you will build your profile, I am sure and put your lawyer experience there too, it’s part of your past and it shows tons of credibility. Good luck, but you will be just fine. Thank you so much for your comment.

  4. Faizan says:

    Very useful post, Thanks!

  5. Anthony says:

    Excellent assessment. LinkedIn members are essentially pre-qualified as having a business focus. No need to create a pre-text to contact someone. It’s assumed you have business intentions.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Thank you so much, Anthony. It is so true – their focus is entirely on business and relationships – I really like that laser focus. Indeed. Thanks for the affirmation here.

  6. Useful and great outline for those of us just getting started with this. Thanks!

  7. I have been trying to figure out the appeal of linkedin other than job seeking. I am a jewelry designer among other things and will look into groups to see how I can use this. Thanks for sharing your research.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Angela, you are very welcome and if I can help you more, let me know. I am certain there are others with your interests and if you don’t see a group specific enough, then START ONE!! Good luck and I know you will figure it all out. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Amanda says:

    Well, I have to say, you anticipated my first reaction perfectly: I really have to initiate, set up, and maintain another social media platform??? Geez, just Facebook alone is like a black hole for my work time. But you persuaded me with your comment about FB and Twitter being “peeps and friends first.” Getting them to go over to my business page is like pulling hens’ teeth. So, I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for opening my mind to this idea! I had a notion of LinkedIn as kind of stodgy and stale, but I will take another look now.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Amanda, too funny – yes, I came prepared indeed and if you do this and you find that you don’t think it brought you anything useful, come talk to me. I promise you that the attitude you get on Facebook or with friends in general will not be anything like that of LinkedIn – and feel free to connect with me and let me know how I can help you. All the best!!! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Thank you for this thorough outline. I have been scratching my head for a long time about what to do with LinkedIn. My network keeps growing but I haven’t done much with it. This gives me a boost in the right direction. Warmly, Susan

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi dear Susan, you are very welcome – I am So glad it was useful. Yes, use the groups, use the interaction, and keep an eye on the conversations. Good stuff is brewing in LinkedIn and thanks for your comment here.

  10. Jenny Shih says:

    Thanks for these insights, Farnoosh. I’ve been wrestling with the same thing–how would LinkedIn help me now that I’m no longer working in corporate.

    What was most helpful to me was your mention that it IS for businesses and a discussion about services, etc., is expected.

    I’ll add it to my social media checklist to browse the Groups and find one that resonates with me.

    Thanks again for the helpful insights.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi dear Jenny, you are very welcome. Well, we are in the same boat then and this is the best time to be an entrepreneur and to be on LinkedIn! Go into it with that business mindset and make your connections with that mindset and offer your expertise in groups and in conversations and don’t be afraid to connect with people in your field. Best of luck and let me know if I can be of any more help to you.

  11. Leo McDevitt says:

    Thanks for the great information about LinkedIn! I’m upgrading my profile based on your recommendations.

    I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn, but I’m not sure how to do that without knowing your email.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Leo, you are very welcome. Wonderful to hear you will be updating your profile and please do connect with me. You can actually choose from several different options when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, and some do not require email at all. Try it and if it doesn’t work, send it to prolificliving[a]gmail.
      Love to connect.

    • Leo,

      You can search for people by name . . . I found her under “Farnoosh Brock,” Author, Blogger, Speaker, Motivation and Career Coach at Prolific Living.

      • Farnoosh says:

        Right, Raymond, I think he was asking about the connection options when you want to connect with someone and that’s where it asks for email in some – not all – of those choices.

  12. I’m guilty of being in and out of LinkedIn, I tend to spend hours on it for a week or two and then completely ignore it for a month, I really need to take the time to be there every day or so.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Jamie, ah no worry – go have a grand fresh start! I do go through some phases but because I hold myself to putting an update every day and also checking my group and responding to activities, I pull myself back in and stay somewhat active. It’s just a habit, and I am sure if you saw some goodness come out of it, you’d become a regular visitor. All the best and thank you for your comment.

  13. Thanks for sharing these great tips. I have a LinkedIn account but I have yet to do anything with it because like you mentioned most of us have multiple social media platforms already. However your article makes some great points, ill have to find time to give it another try.

    Thanks again

    -Dustin

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Dustin, no worry – just start now. There is always a good time to start fresh and give it a good few weeks of trying and seeing what happens. Really put your best out there and engage in groups and connect with people that resonate with you. And get your profile in tip top shape. Thanks for your comment!!

  14. dlysen says:

    I have linkedin account too, but I don’t open it as always. I would love to do your recommendation. What I know about linkedin is, linkedin has a good SEO. I always find linkedin links when I search on google.

    • Farnoosh says:

      HI Dylsen, what do you mean “open it”? You mean just go to the site. Yes, LinkedIn is a top search engine – or acts like one to me. And do work on getting a few recommendations and offering to give them to others too. Good luck! Thanks for your comment.

  15. Hi Farnoosh – great tips. Two little-known LinkedIn resources to add:

    1. Even with the basic version, you can see who is viewing your profile by clicking “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” on the right side. I’ve reached out to companies on that basis, with the presumption that they must be seeking copywriting or content marketing services. It’s an approach that has been fruitful.

    2. You can add ‘skills’ to your profile, and people can search you on that basis. You can edit that section on your profile page and I have seen the numbers of people ‘viewing’ my profile rise since I completed that part of my profile.

    I find LinkedIn to be very useful. I don’t synch my account with Twitter – I find that is too much activity. But I do have a WordPress plugin on my LinkedIn page and my posts are automatically streamed there. Another useful feature.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hello dear Ruth, I love seeing you everywhere. However do you do it? Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on LinkedIn.
      Now I admit, that I did not know – and I do have the basic version – I have not found enough data to support going to the Pro version, have you? That is BRILLIANT advice, Ruth, thank you for adding that to our LinkedIn conversation. I will actually go do that right now…..
      Yes to Skills. Maybe I should have gone into more details. I took a lot of time outlining that one. Great tips. I also do NOT sync with Twitter because those hashtags mean nothing outside Twitter world….
      Gosh, thank you – these were brilliant…. as are you, dear Ruth!

  16. Mike C says:

    Thank you for reminding us about the importance of LinkedIn, Farnoosh. (I have saved your post for future reference.)

    I find myself spending a lot of time with Twitter first, then Facebook, Google Plus, ActiveRain (as a real estate blogger) ~ in that order. Truth be told, LinkedIn is all but forgotten. The bottom line is whatever social media platform preference, you will only get out of it what you put into it.

    I especially liked that you said, “take a ‘vacation’ from Facebook and automate or minimize your Tweets for a few days—or even a couple of weeks” to invest in LinkedIn. It’s what I needed to hear.

    Thanks again :)

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Mike and thanks so so much for your comment. I do not use Google Plus that much, I have my Facebook on a timer – I swear the last few weeks something has exploded within Facebook where all real, text updates seem to be replaced with so much animation, video and graphics – or is it just me? And Twitter is organic, so I share what comes to mind and what I find useful and keep up with conversations which i really enjoy but LinkedIn is business in a really nice way! You are right: We get out of any of them what we put into it but do give LinkedIn a try. Ping me if you have questions, and you are most welcome. Thank you.

  17. Nice post and I agree that LinkedIn can be a really valuable tool for finding business development deals. The search functions means you can really drill down and find specific people, which can be helpful.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Darren, thank you so much and I am so glad you found some useful information here. Greatest reward for the writer! Best of luck and hope good things come to you through LinkedIn!

  18. Great info Farnoosh! I’ve always been a huge proponent of LinkedIn for the items you’ve outlined. Once you’ve built your profile, recommendations and groups, be sure to explore the Questions & Answers, that is becoming a more powerful section every day. Also look at LinkedIn Signal (under the news tab) – this is a turbo-charged filtering and search system.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hello dear John, I knew you’d probably be big into LinkedIn. Oh good point. I forgot to mention that. I was looking at those a while ago, and you are very right, that’s a great place to learn and explore. Both the Q&A and the LinkedIn Signal. Man, I am going to run my next article by you, sir! Thanks for your comment.

  19. Andrew Hill says:

    I joined Linkedin several years ago, in response to an invitation from a business contact. I’ ve done very little with it since then, but will be taking another look at it. Thanks, Farnoosh, for your Linkedin tips.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hello dear Andrew, it’s been a while since I have seen you! I must connect with you on LinkedIn then. Give it another chance. I promise you it will be a different social media experience in a good way and hit me up with questions. You are most welcome. Thanks for your comment.

  20. Wasim Ismail says:

    I have been with Linked in for a while, but just recently started to use it properly, and more active on this platform. There is definitely opportunities on their for career progression, jobs, sales, and brand awareness. You just need to be consistent on it, and stick to what works.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Dear Wasim, hi! Nice to see you are going back in there to use it well. Lots and lots of information around all the topics that you mentioned but one thing you said stands out above it all: consistency!!! Brilliant advice. Thank you for the reminder!

  21. darkduck says:

    LinkedIn is good when you blog about your professional life.
    But if you blog about your hobby… LinkedIn is unlikely to help. Unless you want to find people who share both your professional area and hobby.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Actually, it wasn’t really about “blogging” so much as a professional presence. It’s not about hobbies you are right so if you are a blogger as a hobby, sure, LinkedIn is not a big deal in THAT regard but if you have a profession, then it can help you with that profession too, so I guess my point was to have LinkedIn for your professional life ….. but great distinction, thank you darkduck!

  22. Akhtar says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article today…helped me a lot recently. Good idea to post it ;)

  23. naijadotcom says:

    Analytical points,good assessment..

  24. Manuel says:

    Thanks for the post. That made me go back to linked in and request recommendations because I had none. Well, it seems that ProBlogger is much more that about blogging. Thanks for reminding me about the importance of Linked in. Also, being part of Linked in groups got me very nice insight into how the web works. You really need to be part of some good groups like Google, Worpress or Blogging groups in Linked in. Cheers.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi dear Manuel,
      You are very welcome. Yes, it’s good to have recommendations and be sure to also offer them recommendations in return. I am really happy Problogger published this post on LinkedIn too. And I did not realize that Google groups or WP groups were big but it’s a great suggestion, Manuel. All the best and thanks so much for your comment.

  25. Thank you so much for this article! I too have a LinkedIn profile that has been collecting digital dust – mostly b/c I know I need to dedicate the time to update my resume, etc. But you have given me the motivation and KICK IN THE PANTS to get it done … especially now since I’ve started a blog. Wonderful advice and insight. I have another task to put on my to-do list and I won’t delay! The challenge will probably be getting the recommendations and getting them in a timely fasion (NOW) – but all in due time. Thanks again!

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Andrea, you are so welcome. “Digital dust” = one of my fave phrases. :) I hope that you take the motivation and run with it. Use other people’s profiles that you admire and trust and their templates and create something really professional. Don’t delay it and let me know how else I can support you. Best of luck!!! You won’t regret it.

  26. Ileane says:

    Hi Farnoosh! Excellent advice and tips for using LinkedIn effectively.
    I’m in a bit of a pickle as I cannot combine my LinkedIn activity with the rest of my social media presence. My blogging contacts have completely different interests than my professional career and to be honest I wish there was a better way to keep them separate. Google + made it even more difficult for me to do this since I have to use my real identity – full name and all. I’ve already sacrificed my Facebook profile which I wanted to keep separate also – but unfortunately, I simply can’t do the same with LinkedIn. Any advice you have would be appreciated (sorry for whining).

    • Farnoosh says:

      HI Illeane, nice to see you here. Thank you. Why did you want to “combine” it? First of all, you don’t “have” to do anything, my dear. Don’t use G+ if you don’t want to, and you certainly don’t have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. With LinkedIn, you would want to share your true identity, yes, so if that is not something you feel comfortable doing, for whatever reason, then maybe it’s not a good place to expose yourself. I don’t know of anyone who has an anonymous presence on LinkedIn. I think it would be very hard to attract a network of professionals if you don’t share your first and last name openly, Ileane, but never do anything you don’t feel comfortable. If you want to tell me more, I am all ears.

      • Ileane says:

        Farnoosh, I am using Google + with my real name but I use it for anything related to blogging and social networking.
        However, I signed up for LinkedIn months before I started blogging but I really don’t use the service. Most of my connections are with my co-workers – so basically I don’t need LinkedIn but I can’t delete my profile without raising eyebrows. :)
        I just keep my activity to a minimum on LinkedIn.
        I’m pretty much stuck with these two profiles that I don’t want to connect but they’re like magnets and all I can do is wait for them to collide. :)

  27. Farnoosh says:

    Hi all, not sure why all of my individual replies to you is showing up randomly here. Some of my comments went in for moderation but please know that I replied to each and every one of you right away and hope that the responses show up soon! Very happy to hear that this post was so useful! THANK YOU !!!!

  28. The VMCA says:

    I love that LinkedIn is ALL about business. There is no added facebook ‘fluff’ that I find so annoying on facebook. Also? The traffic sent to my website from there is quite something in analytics. Don’t discount LinkedIn if you’re serious about growing your business/website/blog/following.

    • Farnoosh says:

      You know, the “fluff” is definitely not there and I don’t miss it for one! Well-said. It is not a platform to overlook. Thanks for your comment.

  29. soubhik says:

    Every social site is good for one thing or the other.. the main thing is what you r blogging about…
    What do you say??

  30. Great post, I think people undervalue LinkedIn, which at least for those of us in the business blogoshpere, is the most valuable of the social networks.

    I have a question/problem for the author/community here to comment on. The blog I manage/write for is for an industrial air pollution control equipment manufacturer…not exactly mainstream. Anyways, LinkedIn has been a great help to me, connecting me with others in my industry, which are few and far between.

    I recently posted on several of the groups I am part of that I am looking for guest writers for our blog. I had this guy come back at me attacking my idea as lunacy. Basically, he thinks its a no win situation for anyone that posts on our blog, because we are a commercial site as well, and since other parts of our site sell our products and services. I tried pointing out that many successful websites do this: including problogger, copyblogger, etc. But he would have none of it.

    I am wondering what your take is on this, how would you respond to this guys remarks?

    Here is exactly what he had to say:

    The problem is that you are a private manufacturing/trading organisation, so that anyone posting something of sufficient value on your site/blog would be promoting your company, rather than their own or themselves.
    It would be better for them to create their own blog/white papers etc. and have them hosted on their own site, or as you have done, offer such material to independant on/off-line trade publications, where they would gain more personal acknowledgement or credit

    I stand to be corrected, but I feel that on balance my view is more appropriate. You refer to ‘ any example’, but I can not bring one to mind.
    Of course, this IS a Discussion Group, so would like to see the opinion of other parties. I may well change my opinion in the light of those of my peers.

    (After pointing to sites like problogger and copyblogger)

    You prove my point.
    The examples above are independent blogs with no vested interest. The authors may well have their own sites to which readers may choose to visit after reading the blog content, but your own blog is primarily to promote yourself/your company on the back of LinkedIn.