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LinkedIn has always been the red-headed stepchild of the social media world. While over 50 million people have profiles, very few have figured out how to make this platform work well for them. With outlets like Facebook and Twitter gaining so much media attention of late, many people have abandoned their LinkedIn profiles for more dynamic sites. Nevertheless, LinkedIn still proves to be the most valuable social media network for B2B communication. So, for those few people who are still newbies at LinkedIn, here are the basic requirements for making it work for you.
- Fill in your profile completely. There is no getting around the fact that the initial set-up of your LinkedIn account takes some time. While it may not seem relevant to include previous employment, it makes your profile easier to find by people who may have known you in your previous life. Reconnecting with people is the goal of LinkedIn, so make sure people can find you by detailing how you got to where you are today.
- Include a photograph. This is not the place to be cute, or overly creative (even if you are in the business of creativity). Your photo needs to make it easy for people to tell what you look like. Everyone has at least one good photo of themselves. Keep in mind that this is a small picture, so choose a close-up of your face so people can really see you. This makes it easier to identify you when you meet (again) in person
- Personalize your URL. Because LinkedIn is SEO friendly, use your public profile URL to reinforce your personal brand. Use your full name (www.linkedin.com/in/heatherloftiss), your twitter handle (www.linkedin.com/in/natatclearpoint), or a keyword phrase that has meaning to you (www.linkedin.com/in/loudcreative). Once your desired URL is gone, much like domain names, it is gone. So do this as quickly as possible to ensure YOU get your name!
- Give and Ask for Recommendations. Recommendations are one of the most powerful tools in LinkedIn. These serve as a third party endorsement of you and your work. As with all things, you should always give before you get. Go through your connections and endorse people who really stand out in your mind asremarkable contributors. Let people know how great they are to work with and they will most likely turn around and do the same for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation either. You know when you did good work, so seek out those people who know it too and ask for their help.
- Grow your network. After you initially enter in your contacts, you are not finished. You need to continue to grow your network. This means after every networking event, try to link to every person you have a business card from. This becomes another drip in your marketing cycle, if you are hoping to sell to your network eventually. Be careful though – many people mine LinkedIn and ask anyone to connect with them so they can have a large network. Only connect to people who you know, or have some shared connection with. Remember, you are judged by the company you keep
- Make your profile public. Why would you go to all the trouble of optimizing your profile, only to hide most of it from people who have not yet connected to you? Open your profile up and make it easy for people to see who you are. To do this simply click the Edit button next to the Public Profile heading. You can choose how much unconnected people are able to see about you. An added bonus to an open profile is that is helps your Google rank when searching on your name. Thank you LinkedIn for being so SEO friendly.
- Promote your profile. Add your (personalized) profile to your email signature so people can easily find and connect to you. This way every email you send helps direct people back to your profile so they can learn more about you. After all, you’ve gone to all the trouble of setting it up correctly, why not make sure people see it?
These are just the basics of using LinkedIn effectively. When you’re ready to step it up, watch for LinkedIn
201: Getting the most out of LinkedIn (coming soon).