Facebook and Twitter might get the lion’s share of the press compared to other forms of social media, but when it comes to professional networking, LinkedIn is the uncontested champion. The site’s more than 300 million members tend to leave the funny cat videos and goofy eCards to other, more informal sites, preferring to focus on expanding their professional networks and building their brands.
In fact, a 2013 survey by the Wall Street Journal found that over forty percent of small businesses regard LinkedIn as having the most potential for helping their business grow. And a study conducted in 2012 by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research, found that 81% of Inc. 500 companies used LinkedIn for social media, as compared to 74% and 64% for Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
Clearly, LinkedIn has plenty of opportunities available, and no matter how many connections you already have, it’s easier than you might think to grow your network.
One of the easiest ways to stand out on LinkedIn is simply to be active. Nearly half of the site’s members spend two hours or fewer on the site each week. So simply interacting with other users is a great way to let them know that you’re invested in the site and ready to connect. Sending at least one invitation to connect each day takes only a moment, but can have a big impact, provided you reach out to someone who’s likely to share your interest in building a professional relationship. (And your invitation is in the proper format.)
Sharing useful, high-quality content is another way to encourage interactions. LinkedIn began opening its content publishing platform, formerly limited to experts known as Influencers, to all users in early 2014. Publishing original content—including presentations, images, articles, etc.—is a fantastic opportunity to build your authority and interact with your audience.
Making the most of LinkedIn connections for your business doesn’t have to be a chore. By taking the time to review your options, seek out those likely to be interested in, and benefit from, a new relationship, taking advantage of tools like groups and content publishing, and staying active in discussions, you can start to expand your professional network and grow your business.
Check out the rest of this series, and become a social media powerhouse!
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Double Your LinkedIn Connections in Just 5 Minutes Per Day
More than 300 million people are using LinkedIn, making it the world’s largest professional network. How can you leverage it to to get the most from it?
- Be more active on LinkedIn.
- According to Lab42, only 1/3 of LinkedIn members login each day.
- Update your status daily.
- Comment and share your connections’ updates.
- Comment on updates from the companies you follow.
- Send an invite for a new connection at least once a day.
- Make sure it is to someone you already know, or you can be introduced to the person through a connection you already have.
- Don’t send invites to people you don’t know; you could abuse the platform.
- Participate in (or start) LinkedIn group discussions weekly.
- Answer questions on “LinkedIn Answers” weekly.
- Regularly update your profile information.
- 42% of users update on a regular basis.
Make it Personal
Instead of just sending a connection request, send a personal message with the request.
- This will make you stand out.
- Write a short message about how you know them, or why you would like to know them.
- Make yourself look interesting.
- Avoid using cliches, such as:
- Describe yourself as you would in person.
- Say what you do and provide examples:
- “I’m an architect who designed….”
- Don’t say things like:
- “I’m a passionate, innovative, provider of architectural services….”
- Tell them why you admire their work.
- Keep it short since you don’t have much room.
- “Hi Danny! It was great talking to you at Johnny’s party last Saturday. Hoping we can connect here! Thanks, Jane”
- “Hello Barb! We haven’t met, but I’m a follower of your blog and really admire your work. Would love to become part of your network. Thanks, Ron”
- Use the “Alumni” search feature to find connections from your high school and college.
- Join LinkedIn groups within your niche and take part in the conversations.
- Don’t overdo it. Choose 3-5 groups and stay active in each one.
- 81% of LinkedIn members belong to at least one group.
- Make it easy for others to contact you.
- Prominently display your contact information on your profile.
- Clearly state your networking purpose on your profile.
- “I am a jobseeker looking for…”
- “I am a hiring manager looking for…”
- “I am a consultant offering…”
- Remember that LinkedIn is not like Twitter or Facebook, so when reaching out to people you should already have some sort of connection to them.
- Be smart with your updates.
- Share insights, news and articles that are relevant to your niche and connections.
- Instead of just posting your blog post, get your connections to engage with you by asking a question with it.
Ask People You Know for Endorsements
- LinkedIn endorsements are a great way to show someone you not only notice, but value the skills they have to offer.
- LinkedIn has more than one billion endorsements.
- Give endorsements to people freely, not expecting an endorsement in return.
- Endorse people you know for the skills you admire.
- Follow up endorsements from others with a personal thank-you message.
- Do not accept or provide recommendations or endorsements from people you do not know, or people whose skills you cannot personally vouch for.
Promote Your LinkedIn Profile
Promoting online in emails and on your site is important, but it is also important to promote offline.
- Promote your LinkedIn and other social media accounts and pages everywhere!
- In your store window:
- Display a sign in your store window encouraging customers to follow you.
- Business cards:
- Use a simple customized user name that is easy for others to read and search for online.
- Add links or info on your LinkedIn profile to all types of advertising (magazine, newspapers, radio, TV).
- Marketing Material:
- Include your LinkedIn info on all of your marketing material, including brochures, magazines, posters, media packets and promotional material.
- Include your LinkedIn info on all promotional materials used at your event, whether it is a poster at your stand or on flyers you are handing out.
- When you meet new people, make new connections, have phone calls or meetings, mention your LinkedIn profile and encourage them to connect with you.
LinkedIn Success Stories
- Jacob Erlick, pricing analyst: Southwest Airlines, Dallas, Texas
- Jacob wanted a job with Southwest Airlines, so he applied for countless internships and jobs.
- After each interview, he used LinkedIn to connect with a Southwest employee and recruiter.
- Eventually he accepted a job with a B2B IT company.
- He noticed a LinkedIn “People You May Know” connection to connect to another Southwest recruiter via someone else he knew.
- He connected with her and asked about job openings.
- He joined Southwest in August 2012.
- Nataly Kelly, VO of marketing development: Smartling, Boston, Mass.
- After years of struggling to find a publisher for her book, Nataly turned to LinkedIn.
- She pitched multiple publishers with a description of her book.
- One publisher agreed to publisher her book.
- MeLinda A. McCall, Human Capital
- Used LinkedIn to recruit people for her company that needed to hire more recruiters.
- In her search, found a recruiter who wanted to meet her to hire her for his company.
- She went from recruiting to being recruited and started the new job two months later.
- Chris Perry, Brand Manager
- Used LinkedIn to reach out with brand managers at his target companies.
- Asked for advice about hurdles in his job search
- One person forwarded his resume to human resources, with no promises.
- Chris landed a job interview and position with his current company.
- This Simple Action Will Dramatically Grow Your LinkedIn Network – mashable.com
- 9 Reasons Why You Must Update Your LinkedIn Profile Today – forbes.com
- By the Numbers: 125+ Amazing LinkedIn Statistics – expandedramblings.com
- 6 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Connections – socialmediaexaminer.com
- Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself – linkedin.com
- Offline Social Media Tips – funkysocialmedia.com
- LinkedIn: 5 job search success stories – cbsnews.com
- Landing a Job Through LinkedIn: 4 Success Stories – aol.com