LinkedIn is a social media platform designed for growing connections between individuals and businesses. There are plenty of ways to leverage your business connections with LinkedIn, starting out by having individuals that you work with connecting to you.
In this session, you’ll look at the value of setting up a LinkedIn presence and how it will fit into your social media marketing plan.
LinkedIn is a business-focused social media site. Its aims include helping people in business connect, helping businesses do business with each other, providing services to business people, and networking within your industry (as well as related or complementary industries).
Within the LinkedIn network (found at www.linkedin.com), you can establish a profile, create a company profile, and engage in communities that already exist, while considering the benefits or establishing your own community there.
LinkedIn has several ways that you can locate other people. You can search for them from the home page of the site before you even join and see if there are like-minded people there that you want to connect with. LinkedIn is a consistent, content rich, place to find people and information. It is a site that has focused on what it is good at, so you won’t games or chat. They do, however, offer an enormous network of groups where you can find blog posts and articles, connect in conversations, and expand your own network.
LinkedIn does have the ability for you to enter a status update that will show in your news feed on your profile page and the news feeds of people you are connected to. In order to save you a bit of time, you can update your status on LinkedIn and have it automatically feed it to your Twitter update. Since both statuses are restricted to a concise 140 character limit, things that you say in LinkedIn do not get cut off in Twitter.
However, Twitter announced in June 2012 that users will not be able to automatically post their updates to LinkedIn. You can still send your LinkedIn updates to Twitter, but not vice-versa. Be judicious in your LinkedIn updates and people will be more likely to be curious about what you do so and follow you along.
Setting Up Your Account
Whether you already have an account set up on LinkedIn or not, this section has something for you because plenty of people have set up a LinkedIn account and never updated it.
LinkedIn profiles are set up to look similar to a resume. You can provide details like where you attended school, jobs you’ve held, recommendations you receive from other people, who you are connected to, and more. You can also add keywords and statements about projects you’ve done, what you want to accomplish by being on LinkedIn, and more. This is handy if an old colleague or perhaps a complementary business wants to reach out to you and add you to their network because it shows where you are at. You can make some great connections to people by being involved in LinkedIn, so you want to really pay attention to how you set up your profile, the way you word your information, and how it looks on your page. Think of your profile as a resume. Consider getting some help with it from someone who is a writer or even someone who specializes in resume writing.
Once you have set up an account and started building your profile, you can have LinkedIn search your email contacts to see who else has a LinkedIn profile that you can connect to. You can also import your contacts from several different e-mail platforms. This helps you to quickly build your LinkedIn network.
Connecting to Others
LinkedIn is all about connections, and as with any social media platform, those connections help you to build and/or connect as a community. When you log into your LinkedIn profile, you can then add connections from the Contact tab. You can look for connections by selecting schools you attended (to connect with classmates), companies you’ve worked with (to connect with colleagues), and so on. There are also plenty of helpful how-to links on LinkedIn to get this working for you.
When you are logged in and you want to search for a connection, you simply enter the person’s name in the LinkedIn search bar. You can also search for them quickly if you know their e-mail address. If you want to connect to someone you do not actually know, LinkedIn encourages you to connect to people that you know and people who are connected to someone you know (a second-degree connection) and that they know (a third-degree connection).
You can connect to second- and third-degree connections by sending them a request directly (and you should mention who you know in common if you do so), or, you can request that your friend (the first-degree connection you have) introduce the new person to you. This sounds more complicated that it is, but helps to stop people who don’t know each other at all from connecting and simply building huge lists of connections that they really have nothing in common with, and don’t wish to have in their network.
LinkedIn also provides HTML code for you to add a LinkedIn button to your website or blog so that people can find you on LinkedIn easily. This is especially handy if you have a pretty common name!
LinkedIn groups are also a great way to get connected. There are plenty of them to try out. We suggest that you visit, read, connect to, and start communicating with some of the groups that are already there. You can adjust your settings with the groups so that each day or once a week you get a digest of conversations that are underway, resources that have been made available, etc. Some groups will have to give you permission to join.
If you are connected to groups that are right for you, join in the conversations and see what is happening. If you don’t enjoy being a part of a particular group, you can always leave and disconnect yourself.
When you have been part of these groups for a while and are getting involved in some conversations, it may be time to consider whether it makes sense for you, your company, or an association you are connected to, to start a group. You’ll want to have plenty of conversation starters as part of your plan. You also need to devote time for visiting the group regularly – (once a day at least) to engage in the conversations there, answer questions, provide links to resources, or to connect people together. If this sounds like a lot of work, it can be.
You need to refer back to your social media marketing plan to consider if your involvement in LinkedIn is part of your marketing strategy and make sure things stay on track. Get as involved as you would like and have time for, and see what kind of information and value you get from particular groups in your industry or other areas of interest. If you do set up a group, you need to be dedicated to it to ensure that it thrives.