Monday, May 9, 2011

Confessions of a LinkedIn virgin

Bill Bishop


I’m certain that many entrepreneurs and business people don’t take an invitation to be added to one’s professional network very seriously.

I confess. I didn’t. I simply clicked the “accept” button and that was the end of it.                   

It’s a strange new world out there, however, and most people are only beginning to understand the potential power of the social media. Some have found no value at all while others have seen limited success. And then there are those who have actually built viable networks of revenue generating partners… and business is good.

You probably don’t want to hear this, but the key to success in the social media is the same “secret” that must be applied anywhere else in business — hard work.

Part of the problem, at least in my situation, was that I wasn’t serious about making the service work. Therefore, I didn’t offer any good or useful information about myself and consequently, I got nothing in return.

When you give nothing, you get nothing! It’s that simple.

LinkedIn may not be as sexy as Twitter or as popular as Facebook, but it could be the most important social network out there for businesses. So if you’re in business and your schedule is tight and you only have time to devote to one social platform, LinkedIn could be your best bet.

Here are just a few tips for growing your network and your business using LinkedIn.

Work on your profile
First, make your profile irresistible. Start with a professional headshot. Don’t use a photo of yourself as a three-year old. Don’t crop your head out of a party picture or use a photo of your favorite pet.
We live in the age of digital photography, which means you can have a current picture of your very own smiling face online in a matter of seconds.

Next, complete your profile. Again, if you’re not serious about growing your business, you’ll leave this area blank, but completing the profile simply means including all your relevant jobs, both past and present, as well as where you went to school and boards you’ve sat on or positions of leadership you’ve held.

You never know how people may connect with you, or what searches they may do.

You’ll also want to write a compelling summary, which means more than just posting your resume. Instead, you’ll want to explain what you do, and why someone should reach out to you. Be persuasive.
Leverage your keywords in order to improve your “findability.” Ideally, these should be repeated in various key areas of your profile including your headline, work experience and summary. A repetition of your keywords makes you significantly easier to find.

Content is king!
Want to really make an impact? Add a video. Content is king!

If you are not creating content and uploading it to the social web then your company is invisible. And the most engaging content you can create is video.

Video grabs attention and holds people's interest like no other marketing material. It's dramatic and exciting.

Adding a video to your LinkedIn profile can be done rather easily by uploading a video to Slideshare.net and enabling SlideShare on your profile page.
Next you’ll want to begin building your network. An easy place to start is with your current contacts… the people you already know.

There are two ways to do this — the short way or the long way.   

               

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