1. Complete your profile as if new business depends on it
LinkedIn shows you if your profile is 100% complete. That is the first step. The next step is to Google yourself. If LinkedIn comes up on the first page, then you should assume it will come up on the first page for your next business contact.
You should polish it. Pretend the next person to hire you or your company will do so because of LinkedIn.
2. Add skills
LinkedIn skills is in beta, but that means you should click on it today. I’ve argued that LinkedIn will be a people and skills search engine. The reason is simple: you can search on Google for “plumber” because it will geolocate the closest plumbers. But if you seek an attorney, consultant or other professional, then geography isn’t always on the top of the list. But Google will care about geography. We have clients across the country, not down the road. Add your skills, today.
LinkedIn today is your morning newspaper. It offers all the news relative to your profile. Think of it as the front page of your internet every morning.
4. Answer questions
LinkedIn offers “Answers”, an entire section of the site designed around knowledge. Answering questions is a way to prove knowledge. On my profile, LinkedIn calls me an expert on Networking and Web Development for answering questions on Answers. If you have a question, ask it. If you have answers, give them and prove your expertise.
5. Give recommendations
Recommendations are nice little gifts you can give to your connections. If you work with someone extraordinary, then give them a recommendation. If you used to work with someone extraordinary, then give them a reco. I like to give all of mine on Friday – that way, you make someone’s weekend.
Someone once asked me the following: what do you do if someone you don’t know reaches out to you to connect? Many people seem to ignore them, but I think that’s the wrong instinct. Think about it this way: imagine you are at an industry breakfast and someone sits down next to you and says hi. Ignoring them is socially awkward, right? Well, it is becoming socially awkward to ignore a connection request on LinkedIn. So instead of ignoring someone who connects, ask them how you know them. Connect to people.
7. Join or start a group
Join groups from your college alumni, your local Chamber, or an association. Groups are just like the groups we have always joined (like the local chamber), the only difference is LinkedIn groups aren’t dependent on geography. Join groups to learn about the things that matter in your industry. Bonus: you can connect with people in your groups. So join away.
8. Add applications
My favorite application is Slideshare. Slideshare is one of the best places to showcase individual and collective knowledge. I have a presentation on Slideshare called “How to use LinkedIn“. Your company could have a Slideshare site that showcases the collective knowledge of all the people there. Every presentation rises the boat.
9. Follow companies
When engaging in social media, I think you shouldn’t cast your social media net too wide. We think you should focus on around 20 people. Those people work at companies. The first step is to follow those companies. Why? You’ll get updates when people you are connected to at those companies change their titles: “Hey Bob, congratulations on the promotion to President!”
10. Go there once a week
If you do most of the things above, you will be going to LinkedIn once a week. But in the beginning, you have to generate a behavior. LinkedIn only offers what you put into it. If you do nothing else on this list, do #1 and #10. Eventually, the other things will work their way into your behavior. Start small, get big results.
What do you think? Is LinkedIn a useful tool for your business?