Linkedin is the pre-eminent business networking platform. In a post in 2010, I outlined a ten step approach to setting up a profile, seeking out, connecting with and engaging other likeminded people. This, just as the Linkedin platform has been deliberately conceived, was aimed at the individual – and it remains one of my most read pieces.
But as a social media business tool (especially in the UK), Linkedin is often totally overlooked and viewed as an online CV.
So why use it?
Fortunately, there has been significant investment in functionality to afford some of the usability that users with accounts on other sites like Facebook now increasingly expect online.
This means that Linkedin does operate more like a network now. Users can search for people, connect with them, engage with them in groups, ask and answer their questions, target them with adverts and other content, and access their networks. And all this is basically free!
And with engagement increasingly being seen as the dominant social media currency, the enhanced group discussion functions really allow relationships to form in a safe environment.
Current thinking is to really hone your group activity down to 5 groups, to check in a few times a week, to interact in the most popular discussions and to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the comments of others as well as posted responses. From there, start to add comments to drive your profile and to really cement it, start creating discussions of your own, again around content relevant within the group.
Linkedin groups (and the status bar) both offer a great platform to place content and links. Linking to your Twitter account sends updates out, whilst blogs can be fed into a profile with the addition of a simple widget. Much of the traffic to my blog comes from threads I create in relevant Linkedin groups.
Company profile pages have recently been given a makeover to include more information about brands, products and services and not just a list of past and present employees for recruitment professionals to headhunt. This means there is now an opportunity to host a company page on Linkedin for the first time that carries sufficient information to optimize. Feeding website news, a blog or Twitter feed through the page creates additional stickiness and engagement.
In summary, I love Linkedin and the reach it offers. I believe any business professional should take the time to set up their profile and promote their (and their company’s) expertise through the sites’ many features.
Most people with one hundred connections can quickly access several thousand and then several million with a couple of clicks. Yet most don’t because it is seen as aggressive. Done right, Linkedin embodies the concept of six degrees of separation and may even help make your uncomfortable cold calls a thing of the past.