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Original post : Feb 23, 2012

10 reasons to use LinkedIn

LinkedIn logoUnless you've been hiding underground for the past couple of years you can't have missed the chitter chatter about all things social networking. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube get a lot of mentions in the mainstream media, but most recently it seems to be LinkedIn that is attracting most interest among local businesses.

I've been invited to give presentations and tutorials to several different audiences now - to people who want to know more about the benefits, but who also want to know more about the nuts and bolts of how you use it. To a large extent these are people who have resisted diving into the technology (partly through fear of the unknown) but now realise they can put it off no longer! Most people I talk to have created an account but not fully exploited it.

Well, if that is you, or if you're still resisting, here are my top 10 reasons why you should not delay getting LinkedIn any longer!

LinkedIn is now well established as the professional’s social media network. It complements and enhances all your business networking activities – think of it as being like a tradeshow but bigger and more powerful. 

1.       Increase your profile online

The time is coming when if you don’t exist online then you don’t exist at all! As a professional you must take control over how you present yourself online and ensure you are found for the right reasons. The size and reputation of LinkedIn means it performs well in search engines so you may well be obvious even by your absence!  

2.       Engage with your network

LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with all those people you meet in the offline world. After meeting someone for the first time look them up on LinkedIn and get connected. Then you can follow this up from time to time to maintain your visibility and reputation by sending information that you believe they will find useful and helpful.

3.       Grow your visibility and credibility

We like to do business with people we know and trust. And the more you can be visible for the right reasons the more your credibility grows. You can demonstrate credibility by asking and answering questions in groups. Just study what others do first and you’ll soon find a way to join in that suits you – pay special attention to the people you think are achieving the opposite (being annoying and idiotic) and resolve not to do it that way!

4.       Ask advice

While it’s great to be able to show how much you know about your subject, there are times when we need some extra help and advice to solve problems. You might be interested to know if others have experience of the issue you are trying to address or if they can recommend a supplier. Giving your network the opportunity to help you out can be a great way to build your relationships reciprocally.

5.       Conduct research

If you are interested in learning more about someone you are about to meet or about who works for which companies, for example if you selling or recruiting or looking for work, then LinkedIn is a good place to start. You can check out an individual’s profile, see who they are connected to and also what groups they are part of.

6.       Get introduced to target contacts

Targeting people you want to get to know is easier when someone else introduces you. You can research companies and find contacts with which you share connections. Then you can request an introduction and build up your new relationship from there.

7.       Promote events

You can create events on LinkedIn and promote them to your contacts. Your contacts can also share this information around their network – this is one of the ways that social media really stands out from 1-1 contacts. It gives you greater reach because it is so easy for people to share.

8.       Promote products & services

While LinkedIn is mostly about people you can also create a company page where you can give more information on the products and services you offer.

9.       Improve your search rankings

Including links back to your main website on LinkedIn will give you ‘link juice’ from a reputable site, i.e. search engines take it as a positive sign of the validity and worthiness of your website when they are calculating the algorithm that determines if your website comes up in keyword searches.

10.   Drive traffic to your website

Engaging in social media is all very well, but you really want people to come to your website and hopefully join your mailing list so that you can manage the contacts more directly. You can do this by putting links into your status updates that publicise your blogs, white papers or offers. Or by messaging people directly.

Getting going

As always you get out what you put in – you must be prepared to invest some time and effort in regular engagement on LinkedIn and the rewards should be worth it. The trick is to be consistent and persistent rather than do a marathon session then ignore it for weeks!

Your aim when you engage on LinkedIn is to join conversations, offer advice, tips and generally be helpful. In this way you provide value to others and establish yourself as a likeable, knowledgeable and credible professional worth doing business with. Don’t be too dry and stuffy – it is a ‘social’ network after all!

Start with making sure your profile is 100% complete and that it portrays you appropriately and professionally for your business and target audience. Then visit 2-3 times a week for 10-15 minutes – if you’re receiving emails then you have a natural prompt to dip into groups and discussions. Aim to grow your network slowly and steadily over time.

Good luck and please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn:  http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sharonwilding

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