LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools on the web for business networking.
Are you a LinkedIn user? Would you like to have more engagement and make more quality connections there?
Like all social media platforms, there is more to using LinkedIn than just signing up and completing your profile. Assuming you have a complete profile and a professional-quality headshot there (if you haven’t gotten that far, read this to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile) here are four simple steps you can take to help increase your engagement and interactions on LinkedIn.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn Updates
LinkedIn updates are much like a Twitter stream or Facebook newsfeed, but are much more business oriented, like the rest of LinkedIn. Reading the LinkedIn update stream daily can help you stay up to date with the latest in the business world, and most importantly, what is important to your contacts. Commenting on their updates, as well as contributing updates of your own, will help you connect and get to know your LinkedIn associates. Posting one to three times per day with relevant content is plenty to keep you connected.
Participate in Groups
One of LinkedIn’s best features is their groups. You can find groups specific to your industry niche, centered on your geographic area or groups that focus on your avocation. You can be a member of up to 50 different LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn groups are a great way to get to know other professionals in your niche and to find potential clients. You can share your latest blog posts as well as posts and articles from other sources that would be of interest to your fellow group members. Discussions can range from strictly business to more social topics, giving group members to the opportunity to build relationships. You can also look for jobs or post your company’s job openings in your groups. Many groups allow announcements of events, and some geographically centered groups host in-person networking events.
You don’t need to participate in every group every day for it to be effective. I try to visit 2-3 groups each morning and 2-3 each evening and spend a few minutes reading and commenting on relevant and interesting discussions.
Use LinkedIn Answers
LinkedIn Answers is a great way to help establish yourself as an authority in your field and another great way to engage. You can ask questions and get answers from other LinkedIn users or you can answer questions that other LinkedIn users have asked. You can search questions and answers based on keywords and categories to find the subjects most relevant to you. For example, if you are a productivity specialist, you can search on such keywords as “time management” or “organization” and answer questions asked by other users. Spending a few minutes a day here can really help boost your LinkedIn credibility and encourage connections.
(Update note: LinkedIn has now stopped supporting Answers, which is really a bummer because it was such a great tool. Guess that means you have more time to participate in your groups now.)
Personalize Your Messages
When you make a connection request, LinkedIn sends a generic message. It says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” What it really says is that you don’t really want to put any effort into the connection. Take an extra 15 seconds and send a personalized message that tells your potential connection how you know them and why you’d like to connect (perhaps you are in the same group, maybe you met at a networking event, you read their blog and liked it, etc.). It’s always nicer to connect with someone who is really interested in you and not in making you another notch in their social media belt.
And once you’ve made the connection, whether you are accepting someone else’s connection request or someone has accepted your request, introduce yourself with a personal message. This does not mean you should spam them with a sales pitch. A couple of brief paragraphs telling your new connection a little bit about you and your business and perhaps offering additional ways to connect is much nicer and lets your new connection know that you really are interested in building a business relationship. In addition, be sure to ask about them and invite them to introduce themselves more fully to you.
Using these simple steps and powerful features can boost your LinkedIn presence and bring you more quality connections to build relationships that will build your business—and isn’t that the purpose of social media. Have you tried any of these? I’d love to know what’s working or not working for you on LinkedIn. Please share your comments below.