In writing this blog I’ve discovered one of the secrets of blogging…People love lists. So here we go with another list showing 13 Action Steps you can take on LinkedIn. This is likely one of the last lists for a while so I hope you enjoy it and it provides some value.
1. Optimize Your Profile
When most people hear the word optimize they think of optimizing a website to be found in more relevant web searches. This is much the same thing. You want to optimize your profile so that you increase your chances of being found, and once found, are found credible. You want a “Sticky Profile”.
You want to make sure that your profile is detailed with as much information so that your viewer isn’t left to wonder and fill in the gaps. Your Photo, summary, past work experience are important. Add applications to share information via presentations, white papers, or video.
The keywords you use in your profile will help you be found in more relevant earches based on your industry, product, or service. Use a keyword search tool to see what terms people are searching and then populate your profile with these words.
Finally, your Title/Tag line could have an impact on your ability to consistently communicate your message. I would recommend using the Tag Line to create a message. You can use up to 140 characters.
2. Build Credibility
Without credibility you may be well known and well liked, but you won’t be in business long. On LinkedIn if you want to develop potential opportunities you will have to be judged credible. Credibility is built on how you interact, the information you share, and what other’s say about you.
You can take control by presenting a detailed profile, participating in Answers, securing recommendations, and providing value to your networks. A blog is a great way to build awareness and build credibility. My success on LinkedIn has in a large part been supported by my blog.
3. Grow Your Connections
The more connections you have the more likely you are to encounter “Unexpected Opportunities”. There are those who argue that a large network, with people you don’t know or don’t know well, will have a negative effect. While I respect that they can choose how they want to utilize LinkedIn, I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve experienced the difference in opportunities that occurred after I switched to a more open networking philosophy.
If you’ve been limiting your connections and have not found more success, maybe it’s time to open things up.
4. Join 50 Groups
The people in the same groups as you represent your Group network which is the largest of your three networks. If you have not found 50 relevant groups to join expand your horizons and do so. Groups can help you connect to other members, interact on a larger scale, and allow you to create a presence among a group that shares a common interest.
The discussion and news boards provide a great opportunity to communicate your message on an ongoing basis. Avoid taking a direct sales approach and indirectly help others and share information. You start building your brand which will drive future success.
5. Seek Opportunities to Provide Value
People on social media networks don’t respond to direct sales pitches. You have to find a way to get your message in front of them in an indirect manner. Seek to first provide value and over time you’ll expose yourself to a large number of opportunities.
I spent almost a year sharing information on my blog to help others better utilize LinkedIn before I started seeing a return on my activity. With the new tools on LinkedIn it shouldn’t take you as long. Make a commitment to go out of your way to help others for the next six months and compare the results you receive to what you’re currently receiving.
6. Start a Blog
Starting a blog is easy and there’s no excuse not to do so. The hard part is finding a subject that others will be interested in. Also you need to be able to develop enough content to post at least three times per week. Ideally your blog revolves a round your company or industry. If that’s not an option then find another topic to talk about.
If people like your blog they will like you. And over time they will learn more about you and what it is that you do to help people. You’ll be on the top of their mind should they ever need help with a service or product you offer.
7. Evaluate Polls and Advertising to see if Cost Effective
Polls and LinkedIn advertising are two of the three ways to tap into the entire LinkedIn network. These are provided at a cost so you need to evaluate if they are cost effective.
You can conduct polls with your Direct network at no cost, so consider posting a weekly poll. Just make sure it is interesting so that people will respond. You’ll learn something and in the process have an opportunity to get your name in front of more members.
8. Update Your Status on a Daily Basis
Twitter launched the micro blog craze with their 140 characters or less posting ability. LinkedIn jumped on the bandwagon and now you can update your status to your Direct network. Use it as a way to stay in front of your Direct network, share success stories, announce new products or initiatives, and so much more. Commit to updating your status each day for the next six months.
9. Ask and Answer Questions
Answering questions is part of the process of building credibility and it’s a way to provide value to others. You can include a link to your site, recommended resources, or a blog.
Asking questions allows you to benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.
Both allow you to communicate a brief message through your Tag Line and create a link back to your profile. Try to answer at least three questions and ask one question per week. Do more if you have the time.
10. Give and Seek Recommendations
If you want to be seen as credible what better way to do so than to have your client’s tell other what a great job you did. If you’ve provided a great service to a client and they have not thought to recommend you on LinkedIn ask them to write a recommendation. Most will be happy to do so if they found value in your assistance.
Don’t forget to return the favor by recommending those who have provided value or service to you. Try to avoid giving recommendation in return for receiving one. They look suspicious and people will notice. There will be times when you and a connection are each other’s client and if each want to recommend the other that’s fine. The key is that the recommendation is given for a relevant reason.
11. Participate in Group Discussions
Your group network is likely to encompass a large number of people so it’s important that you stay if front of these people so that they get to know you. Thoughtful posts and questions can help jump start some great conversations. Commenting on other’s posts is also a great way to interact and present your self.
Just remember that what you post or say will either have a positive or a negative impact on your brand. This is not the place to get argumentative. You can disagree; just do so in a polite way.
12. Post News Articles
If you find a relevant article, have a press release, a new product or service launch, or a new blog post, add it to the news board. This is a great way to share information.
The only key is to make sure that what you post has some relevance to the group. If you have a new sales letter or advertisement refrain from posting it. Direct sales messages will typically do more harm than good. Instead take that sales message or advertisement and turn it into an educational piece. You’ll be seen as sharing information verses trying to sell something.
13. Search People and Companies to Identify Opportunities; Then Connect Into Them
As a business professional you should have some idea who it is that you seek to do business with. Using the search function you can identify some potential prospects or business partners who are members of LinkedIn.
Some of these people will already be in your 2nd and 3rd degree networks. Reach out using introduction requests. Also don’t be afraid to offer to connect directly when possible, referencing shared connections and group memberships. Make sure that in your invitation request that you explain why you would like to connect and tell how you can provide value to the other person.
Don’t start by indicating you want to share with them what you do. Don’t tell them you have a “Great” opportunity to discuss. Establish the connection first. Once they are part of your Direct network you can reach out to them at the appropriate time.
Once I’ve established the connection and feel it is the appropriate time to reach out to them, I will usually pick up the phone to call them rather than sending information through a message. It’s easier to call to introduce myself first and then bring up a potential meeting, opportunity, etc..
The Companies search function has been a great way to identify companies that I would like to work with. XL Benefits, my company to help employers manage their benefits, specifically targets companies in creative industries with 10 to 50 employees. I use the Companies search to identify potential prospects and to note how I am connected in to the company.
My initial goal is to simply introduce myself and to get permission to send them a link to an online customized demo that explains how we can help the company manage their benefits.
I recently noticed that the CEO of a company on my prospect list was a member of one of the groups I belong to. I sent her a connection invitation explaining that we had several common connections (this is one way a larger network helps) and that we were both members of the same group. I also told her that I was looking to build a strong local network with people in Atlanta that worked in the creative industry. Finally, I referenced the Linked Intuition blog and let her know that if I could ever be of service to contact me.
She responded by accepting my invitation. This was three weeks ago and I’m patiently waiting to contact her. My goal is to warm the first call up by communicating my message indirectly to her over a period of time, so that when I finally call her she will likely recognize me.
If I’m lucky she will have read my blog and already have formed a positive opinion. If the stars are aligned she’ll also have viewed my profile and have noticed that I’m the Top Recommended insurance person in Atlanta (credibility).
If I was under pressure to add clients I might simply pick up the phone and call her without waiting for the indirect messages to soften the introduction. Or I could use one of the common connections to forward an introduction request Either way LinkedIn has put me in a better position now that she is a direct connection.
These 13 Action steps should keep you busy. In the next week I will release the LinkedIn MBA which is the “How To of LinkedIn How To” books. This will be available as a free download.
I’m also releasing a second LinkedIn book, the “LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula” which take a step beyond the first book, focussing on how to actually use LinkedIn to communicate your message to tens of thousand of LinkedIn members. It explains how to use indirect marketing to drive results.
The target release date for both is June 1st. Stay Tuned.