LinkedIn is a stalwart of the social networking scene, yet it often suffers from a lack of limelight around younger, sexier upstarts. Pretty much everyone you meet in the 'professional' world will have a LinkedIn profile. The only problem is that many don't actually know how to use it or make the most of different features available. Of course, you will only get out of it what you put in and there are some great examples of how LinkedIn can be used for business in ways you might not imagine.
How about raising investment for your new business, purely through LinkedIn? Also, businesses are just starting to take more notice of LinkedIn, as it opens the platform to allow for campaigns and apps to run more effectively. Add to that the fact that LinkedIn has an ad marketplace that runs in the same way as Facebook's and that it's working more on strategic partnerships, such as their recent addition to the new Microsoft Office and already you have numerous reasons to start using it to your advantage, if you aren't already.
1) Why it Matters
2) Tips & Tricks For iPad & iPhone
3) 10 Ways To Help Make Your Profile Stand Out
4) Making Groups Work For You
5) Company Pages
6) LinkedIn Today
7) LinkedIn Apps & Plugins
8) Infographic Sources
Why It Matters
It's easy to forget about LinkedIn and just use it to respond to the odd contact or post a link to something you want to promote. However, if you consider how many connections you're likely to have in there, it can actually be an important part of your professional life, if you want it to be. The benefits of an active LinkedIn profile, whether it's personal or for your business, extend way beyond the immediate connections you have with benefits such as SEO also being incredibly important.
And, of course, with a public network like LinkedIn, it is almost guaranteed to feature on employer's background checks when researching potential candidates. While it may not be the case that securing a job will be wholly dependent on your LinkedIn profile and activity, having a professional looking profile that has been properly filled with your background and work experience will ultimately make it easier for prospective employers to see what you're all about.
Tips & Tricks for iPad & iPhone
10 Ways To Help Make Your Profile Stand Out
1) Get Your Profile Picture Right
Profile pictures are a relatively small part of any user's LinkedIn profile, but it's usually the first thing potential employers will see and are of great importance. It is recommended that users get a respectable head shot taken, but it doesn't have to be professionally done (although that would, of course, be preferable).
It can be as simple as standing in front of a neutral background and asking a friend to take a photo of you with a digital camera of smartphone; as long as you are looking into the camera and your head and shoulders are visible, it will make for a sufficient profile pic.
2. Include a professional headline
Headlines are important as they give user's a basic idea of who you are and what you do in a concise form. It's important that your headline is crisp and comprehensive so that it conveys everything you want to potential employers in 100 characters or less. Think of it as an initial pitch to users to read further and learn more.
3. Provide a summary
A good summary is a must and allows you to put your experience in a wider context beyond your CV/resumÃ©. Ultimately, a summary will, of course, condense your profile's content into a few hundred words so it is important that it presents you at your best and makes the most of a reader's attention span. After all, there are plenty of others out there, and you have to show why they should prioritise yours.
4. Make sure your profile is '100%' complete
LinkedIn is keen to assist first-time users in building their profile with helpful tips and step-by-step guides, so much so that your profile should be up to standard level in no time, especially if you import your CV or resumÃ© on to the site early. Professionalism is key, so it is important that your profile is well presented and up-to-date at all times.
5. List all previous experience, no matter how small
You may find a previous job insignificant or even embarrassing, but readers will use your resumÃ© to form a better idea of you, both as a person and as a professional, in their heads. A comprehensive listing of your complete working experience, complete with descriptions, responsibilities and searchable key words and attributes will leave you in good stead.
6. Make Connections
It is important that new users try and make at least 50 connections. Put the foundations in place by searching for people you know well, such as friends, family, employers/employees and colleagues, or import contacts using your email address.
7. Use applications
If you have a blog or website that could be appealing to potential employers, then you can link on your profile. WordPress makes this especially easy; there's an application to put an RSS feed on your LinkedIn profile. It's an easy way to of displaying your work to users and on a consistent basis. We've included a list of plug-ins and apps that are compatible with LinkedIn; be sure to use SlideShare to improve your presentations, or Rapportive, to help you acquire connections outside LinkedIn.
8. Create a Group
Groups can be the absolute nadir of LinkedIn, equating to glorified forums and filled to the brim with users you do not want to be associated with. However, creating a niche topic group that is defined by specificity and exclusivity will be show you to be an authority in your field, and you will be able to curate important information that will be of use in your search for the next big opportunity.
9. Add a video to your profile
Most people won't have a video, which will make you stand out all the more. Videos are obviously easier to digest than text; they will make your profile more memorable and ensure you make a strong first impression. Obviously, videos are a good way of showing the person behind the profile and will allow you to connect with readers on a personal level, while also effectively showing off your skills.
Think of employers like magpies and keywords like shiny things. You need to put some thought into creating your profile - making sure to litter keywords throughout - so that you best match what fellow users are looking for. It can be easy to impress someone or even show up on someone's radar with the right words; the better you use them, the more likely you are to show up in search results worldwide. Be wary though, you run the risk of sounding SEO-orientated if you use too many buzzwords. Remember: you are a person, not a professional archetype.
Making Groups Work For You
Perhaps one of the major features that LinkedIn has over other social media sites is its groups feature. Granted, this isn't a unique feature by any stretch of the imagination, but what LinkedIn groups have over other social media sites is the type of audience they attract.
While Facebook and Twitter can attract almost anyone, with LinkedIn, you know the type of people asking and answering questions are professionals and have a good working knowledge in their field. There are numerous reasons why you should join a few groups relating to your position if you haven't already, but for those who are unsure about how to proceed, here's some pointers to keep in mind.
1) Focus on a few select groups
When you join a group (or the admin for said group accepts your application), you should get a feel for each group. For example, which groups are most in-line with your profession or expertise? What type of questions are asked? What discussions does this group usually have? How many are active users?
You should also consider the number of members each group has. Don't go for the biggest groups as you will end up getting lost within the noise. Instead, aim for specific groups within your industry and make sure you've more than one keyword in your search. It's better to search for 'social media PR' instead of 'PR' as the latter will bring up general groups or subsections that have nothing to do with you.
Also, if you want to get noticed, the type of groups you want to join should have roughly 500 - 4,000. That's why it's important to research how active these groups are when you're starting out.
2) Be consistent
When we say be consistent, we don't just mean posting comments, but making sure you're visiting your groups regularly. You should visit each group at least two times a week so that you're up to speed with what's happening.
While you do get daily emails regarding groups (and weekly emails if you don't visit often), it's better to take a proactive approach and visit these groups yourself so that when something comes up that you can comment on, you will be one of the first to provide information and insight into a particular topic.
3) Identify the top discussions and engage
Usually, the most popular discussions in a group are pushed up to the top for all to see. Because of this, it's a good idea to weigh-in on the discussion and offer your opinion or advice of certain topics.
Alongside that, each LinkedIn group has a chart showing you the top influencers, that is those people who gain the most traction in the group. If you're engaging with these discussions either through providing insight into a topic, responding to comments or even asking your own questions, users will respond and will begin to see that you are a valuable member of the community.
4) Ask Questions
This links back to the first point, which is know your audience. Once you do, you will know the type of discussions people will respond to and the type of questions that will benefit the group the most and be able to start your own discussions.
Knowing what's members find important is crucial so have a look at previous discussions to see what resonated and which ones were the most valuable. You don't want to repeat these discussions, but you want to find out the topics and subjects that allowed such interaction.
It's best to take a sporadic approach to this, you don't want to be that one person who's constantly posting stuff online and unless you're the group admin whose job is to facilitate discussion, this is a bad thing.
5) Make sure you're providing value
It's ok if you want to link to an article or piece that you've written on a group page, but make sure you're contributing and adding value to the group. Chris Brogan made a rule for Twitter which can be easily applied to any social media site which goes like this: For every promotional tweet you post, 15 should be sharing or providing content.
You don't need to go to this extreme if you're providing helpful and insightful comments, but its worth keeping in mind if you don't want to look like you're spamming the group.
Why Create One?
The same reason why you would create a group page. LinkedIn's audience are professionals so they will take a far greater interest in what's happening with your business (provided you make it relevant to them). It also appears in Google search alongside LinkedIn's search engine so the chances of being found by professionals increase. Alongside that, it gives you a platform to promote your services and products as well as any other events or items you want to get out there.
Thankfully, LinkedIn provide a step-by-step guide about setting up a company page so we don't have to bore you with the how-to part.
Once you've filled out the details and your page is set up, it's time to see what else you can do with company pages.
Follower and Page Statistics
When you've promoted your page to everyone you know and you've amassed a sizable audience, the first thing you should check out are follower and page statistics. As well as giving you a quick overview, you can also get a further breakdown of each statistic such as follower demographic, recent followers, update impression, and unique visitors. This will give you an idea as to any emerging trends or demographics.
Also, knowing what type of follower you have and how many there are is important for when you start using targeted updates.
At one point, the only social button you could get for LinkedIn was the share button for articles. Earlier this year, LinkedIn decided to introduce the follow button, allowing users to follow the company page directly from a site. Handy as more people would be inclined to visit your site and you want to make it as easy as possible for users to follow you.
One for the bigger company pages, targeted updates allows you to post to specific demographics, so if you're posting an update that's only relevant to European followers, it's perfect. However, if your page has less than 1,500, it's probably not recommended to use this as you will probably end up ignoring a significant amount of followers through this. The exception is if you're posting something very specific and the people not seeing the update are a tiny minority.
With people spending more and more time-consuming content on Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn came up with its own content offering last year called LinkedIn Today. It essentially personalises your business news, based on what your LinkedIn network is reading. You can also follow news by category, company or by suggestions that LinkedIn provides you.
Essentially, LinkedIn Today is an online business newspaper for the online generation. Think of it as the Financial Times, but carefully curated and constantly changing to help filter the news that is most important to you. Here are a few tips that will help you get more out of Linkedin Today.
Browse and manage your news categories
To enhance the experience, click on the browse category, which will give you a huge list of the news broken down into the various categories that might be of interest to you. Taking time to curate these at the start will mean that you have a better experience at a later date.
The best news for you is often the news that your connections are sharing and commenting on. By clicking on the "Trending in your network" tab, you will see all the content that people within your network think is important. You will find that this news is incredibly relevant to you and your business because of the time you have spent curating your connections.
You can also choose to follow individual news sources like blogs, websites and media sites much in the same way as you would on Twitter. By taking the time to curate these news sources, the news gets even better for you and all the rich media blog posts, videos and articles relevant to you will start popping into your feed.
LinkedIn Apps & Plugins
Connected is a dashboard that manages all your contacts from across your email address book, social networking friends/followers/connections, calendar and phone contacts, unifying them and making them easily manageable as part of one contact list, a corresponding profile will then be created for each.
Connected presents a device for constructing a comprehensive online contact list with minimal effort and little fuss. It takes details of your contacts from across the internet and melds them into a cohesive whole. Connected will be integral to the site's ongoing development as the internet's premier business network.
LinkedIn's current aim is to reconstruct traditional business networking for an online generation. In the case of SlideShare, users can host documents and presentations on the site to share with their contacts. As part of LinkedIn, SlideShare can be used to share CVs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets among many other file types and will surely represent a useful tool for LinkedIn users and their connections as they try to transfer their business and interactions online.
Gmail add-on Rapportive, which LinkedIn acquired in February, displays a wide range of social networking details about the contact you are emailing.
Rapportive and its new owners will continue to build the extension, but at this moment in time, one can add Gmail contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail all from your Gmail account and without having to manually search for them on individual sites, one at a time.
IndexTank is innovative in that it allows its user to develop search apps with relative simplicity and without said users having to host their own software. LinkedIn bought the company in October and has since open-sourced its technology.
Back in October, LinkedIn predicted that upwards of one billion searches would be made on the site in 2012, and IndexTank's engineers will be of great assistance as they attempt to maintain demand and facilitate user activity without disruption.
HookFlash is a video chat app - think of Facebook chat or Skype and you will have a pretty decent idea as to how it works. Sign in with your LinkedIn account and any connections you have on the site and you can message them or call them whenever they're online.
Currently, the app is available for iPad only, but there are plans for an iPhone app and an Android version to be released later in the year.
There are also a number of plug-ins for LinkedIn too, which will further enhance your experience. You can find most of the plugins listed here.
CardMunch for iPhone - Scan your business cards using an iPhone and it will calibrate the information given with a potential LinkedIn contact.
Tripit - Allows you to plan trips with LinkedIn contacts or even plan a trip together with LinkedIn contacts. Using Tripit, you can also see which of your contacts will be in which city at what time, providing greater potential for networking meetings.
Reading List by Amazon - Allows you to share and compare reading lists with your LinkedIn contacts, a proverbial ice-breaker for you and your virtual business acquaintances.
LunchMeet for iPhone - Put yourself out there and advertise your luncheon spot to all your many, faceless LinkedIn friends, encourages people to use lunch as a networking tool rather than an important daily meal.
WordPress - Automatically submits your WordPress blog posts to your LinkedIn account.
Box.net Files - Add the Box.net Files application to manage all your important files online. Box.net lets you share content on your profile, and collaborate with friends and colleagues.
SlideShare Presentations - Allows you to upload and display your presentations with the people in your LinkedIn network.
Portfolio Display - Use Portfolio Display to show off your multimedia work on your LinkedIn profile.
GitHub - Learn more about the projects your connections are working on, and indeed, tell the world more about what you are working on yourself.
Blog Link - Connect your LinkedIn profile to your blog.
Events - Find professional events, from conferences to local meet-ups, and make the right connections with other professionals at the event.
Projects and Teamspaces - Share and track unlimited tasks, projects, documents and Google Apps.
Legal Updates - Get legal news that matters to you and your business. (Lawyers, upload your articles and other content. Be found for your expertise on LinkedIn.)
Real Estate Pro - Access your local real estate and office space market. Follow active brokers, agents and professionals. Track new property listings and available spaces and stay informed of completed deals in your area.
Polls - The Polls application allows you to collect actionable data from your connections and the professional audience on LinkedIn.
Lawyer Ratings - Lawyers can showcase their Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratingsâ„¢ and Client Review Ratings to further validate their stated credentials and help them make the right connections.
LinkedIn for Outlook - Put a face to your Microsoft Outlook contacts and find their corresponding LinkedIn profile.
Lotus Notes Widget 1.0 Beta - Get your email and LinkedIn updates all in one place; quickly learn more about people who send you email; search for people you want to contact and work with; share your status, see what your connections are working on.
FB LinkedIn Resume - Extract important details and parts of your LinkedIn profile to post on your blog.
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