LinkedIn is a great place for making business connections. It’s decidedly less social than Facebook, and for some people that makes it easier and more straightforward. Like any other social networking site – approach it like a new neighborhood you’ve just moved to. Ask some questions to find your way around and the best place to ‘do business’. In your brick and mortar neighborhood that means learning how to move around and get the products and services you need. Same applies here.
Keeping that in mind, here are some key points:
Build your profile and make sure it’s 100% complete – LinkedIn will walk you through the completion process and suggest what you need to do to finish your profile. A profile that isn’t complete isn’t looked upon favorably by those in the know.
Get Recommendations. At least three is standard. These have to be from people you know who are also on LinkedIn. There’s a simple form you can send to request a recommendation. Be sure to add a personal note and tell the person you are asking what you want them to focus on. Expect to write them a recommendation in return and offering to do so in your inquiry email is a nice touch.
Search for and join groups of interest to you and start to participate. Think of the brick and mortar community analogy and imagine its like showing up at a networking event – only more quickly and more often. Be courteous, pay attention, ask questions, get to be known like you would in any situation where you’re new and want to make a good impression.
Link to your blog (if you have one) through the WordPress widget – it’ll keep your blog posted on your page automatically, it even updates when you make changes through your dashboard – pretty cool.
Use the The Reading List by Amazon widget to comment on what you’re reading – it’s a great way to share info, showcase your interests and your personality in a simple, straightforward way.
Decide whether you want to connect with as many people as possible (be a LION) or whether you want to restrict your contacts to people you know and eventually broaden out to people you meet, and the contacts of your contacts. There are differing philosophies on each strategy.
Some believe the more people you can connect with the better, and those people tend to be power networkers offline as well as on. Some people think LIONs and dilute their efforts – because no one KNOWS that many people, so they view those connections as less valuable overall. Generally, some solid contacts and serious recommendations will stand you in good stead and are enough for most people. Decide what suits your personality.
Participate in the conversation by going to the ‘answers’ found under the more tab. Here you can participate in conversations, network, get answers to your questions. Lurk here a bit and get the feel of the etiquette. Before you post a question, check to see whether this question has been recently asked and adequately answered. Share what’s working for you.