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.
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:
- The LinkedIn community approaches networking with a business-oriented mindset and wants to hear about your business, your offers, your products, and your services.
- 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.
- The LinkedIn professionals are very likely decision makers in their business and your connection with the right person could mean real business and profits.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Choose groups that interest you using Groups search.
- Look for active membership participation by browsing the discussions.
- Look at the Groups rules and be aware of them.
- Join your Groups of choice and watch first before jumping in to contribute.
- 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!