Pop Quiz: Who is more likely to be found on LinkedIn?
A. Has 60 connections B. Has 500 connections
A. Never answers questions B. Answers 3 questions each week
A. Never gives recommendations B. Provides recommendations
A. Rarely updates Status B. Updates status 3 times per week
A. Has minimal info in profile B. Detailed profile with photo
A. Has not listed interests B. List several non-work related interests
A. No Applications B. Has 4 applications on profile
A. Belongs to 5 groups B. Belongs to 50 groups
I could continue with the list but I think you get the point.
Think of your profile as an interactive billboard. The billboard has been erected but you’re waiting for traffic to drive by it. You can wait and hope that someone takes a wrong turn and sees you, or you can try to detour traffic past your billboard.
The majority of billboard owners simply wait for something to happen. Everyone has told them how great LinkedIn is and it cost nothing to put up their billboard. Periodically they link to other billboards hoping that something will happen.
When you first put up your billboard it’s on a lonely two way road out in the country. Your goal should be to move it towards a busy traffic filled interstate. That takes time and activity. If you wait for it to happen it may never do so. If you take control and determine that you will have traffic, it can be done with a little elbow grease.
Here are some ways you can drive traffic (really pull) to your billboard:
Design it Well:
Its words and pictures presented in a cohesive effort. You need to make sure that when someone sees your billboard that it effectively tells your story. Having a profile photo that supports what you do is important. Doing keyword research on your industry and product or service, and then listing these wherever possible on your profile is a huge part of the equation.
Customizing your URL’s isn’t much but it matters. The same goes for listing hobbies and interests. You never know how or why someone will find your billboard, it just matters that many people do.
Try to update what you are doing at least three times a week. I prefer business related updates, but I’ve seen some who post everyday like on Twitter. PingFM is a good resource that will allow you to update micro-blogs at several sites.
Finally applications allow you to take your profile from two dimensional to three dimensional.
Your profile should be a work in progress. Each time you update a piece of it your network is notified on their Home page that you have an updated profile. This will drive traffic.
Asking questions allows you to tap into the knowledge resources of other users. Answering questions allows you to share knowledge. Both are part of the credibility building process. And both result at a minimum in a link to your profile.
Doing both will drive traffic to your billboard. It’s not necessarily targeted traffic, but once again you never know where the next opportunity will come from. Whenever I see an answer that captures my attention I always view the profile of the person providing the answer. Sometimes that’s all, but in some cases it’s led to new connections or opportunities.
Try to answer 5 questions a week and commit to asking one question per week. The caveat is that you have to provide value when answering a question and generate interest when asking a question.
Recommendations given are a way to provide value to someone who has helped you or someone that you think highly of. Recommendations received are a way for your network to provide value to you. In both cases a link is created back to the giver and the receiver’s profile. It’s another great way to be found.
Recommendations from clients go a step further. It gets you a listing in the LinkedIn Service Providers directory. This is probably one of the least utilized features of LinkedIn and that’s a shame. Service Providers used to be one of the main LinkedIn sections but when the Companies section was launched it was moved within the new section. The only reference you will see is a text link on the Companies home page.
Often I will be asked to help someone with their insurance in another state that I’m not licensed in. I always search through the Service Providers directory to find a resource to help the person.
You should strive to have at least 10 recommendations and provide at least 15. Once you hit those numbers keep it going.
On a webinar last week one of the moderators mentioned that they thought the real value to be found on LinkedIn was within groups and not your direct network. That’s a bold statement, but I think they may be on to something.
Within your personal network reaching out to 2nd and 3rd degree connections is cumbersome, unless you have a paying account and have access to InMail. With groups the barriers to communicating with anyone are removed.
I have about 490 direct connections and close to 4.5 million total people in my network. I can only easily contact those 1st degree connections. Within my groups there are close to 250,000 members. I can reach out and contact any at any time.
When I update my profile my 490 connections are notified of my action. But with groups, when I participate in a discussion question or post a news article I can potentially reach 250,000 people.
If I choose my groups wisely then I have the ability to market to a specific target. You can also create a group to develop a target group. I do a lot of business in North Fulton County in Georgia. About a year ago I started the North Fulton Business Group and the group has grown to close to 300 people. With my group I have the ability to communicate with business professionals in a defined area. That’s powerful.
Disclaimer: Starting a group is easy. Getting member to join isn’t. Use your connections and other groups to find your first 100 members. After that it will start to grow on its own. The larger your group grows the easier it will be to add new members.
You can be a member of up to 50 groups and you should focus on finding groups that are filled with your target customers or alliance partners.
There has been an explosion in the number of people talking about social networking, but often the point is missed that what LinkedIn really provides is social marketing. By actively participating in all of the features of LinkedIn you will help drive traffic to your billboard. Visitors can choose to stop and read your billboard, and then can initiate contact, through connecting or engaging in your product or service.
In the movie Field of Dreams the unseen voice is heard to say “If you build it, they will come”. On LinkedIn that’s not enough. Listen close and you’ll hear “If you’re active, they will come.”