2009 will be an interesting year for everyone. It’s hard to say how the current economy will ultimately impact the PR/Marketing world, but now is the time to continue building your professional network.
LinkedIn is my “go to” business contact database. As of October 2008, the site reported having more than 30 million users, covering more than 150 different industries. This survey from September 2008 shows that the majority of LinkedIn users are executives and consultants or “decision makers.” Not a bad place to seek out some new business contacts and job opportunities.
As with any social networking site, you’re wise to do some groundwork and have a strategy in place instead of just signing up and never touching the site again. Here’s six steps I recommend for making your LinkedIn presence worthwhile.
Polish Your Profile
Go ahead, brag a bit. Treat LinkedIn like your online resume. List your current position/description but also be sure to include your past positions, education info, groups/affiliations, awards and specialties.
In addition, be sure to include links to your website, blog and Twitter profile. You may also want to consider adding in one of LinkedIn’s applications such as the WordPress application which provides an RSS feed from your WordPress blog directly on your profile.
Make sure your profile is in “full view” and tailor your profile URL to your name. LinkedIn tracks well in search engines and this will likely rank high under your name search.
LinkedIn makes it easy to search your current email databases to find existing contacts on the site. They are also stringent about making sure you only connect to people with whom you have had some type of contact or affiliation. Take a look at weekly digests that LinkedIn sends out to see who your contacts are connecting with as opportunities for you to also connect.
There are a ton of them. I believe I’m currently part of 26 different groups. Search around and find the ones that are most relevant to your industry or interests. Most groups usually require the group administrator to accept your request, which can take a couple days. Search through the other members of these groups and see if there are others to connect with.
Start & Respond to Discussions
Group discussions are a great way to begin networking and meeting like-minded professionals. Users will pose a variety of questions and on message board threads so you can build off the conversations of others.
Don’t use this solely to plug yourself or your company!
That’s not the purpose. It’s fine to provide a link to a relevant blog post you may have done on the topic or to include your Twitter handle as part of your signature, but as with all social networking, make sure you focus your response on contributing to the question posed. It’s also a great opportunity to suggest another contact, company or link that may help provide a solution.
More and more college students and junior staff members are joining LinkedIn. Have an intern or member of your team that has done a stellar job on a project? Give them a recommendation! It will help bolster the individual’s profile and serve as a professional endorsement for their future career.
Be sure to check out Jason Alba’s post as well as Chris Brogan’s tips on writing LinkedIn recommendations. Hint – you’re not signing a high school yearbook here.
Is LinkedIn going to get your agency a new client or find you a new job overnight? Maybe not all the time but it does happen quite frequently. It is a fantastic resource for making new contacts, maintaining an online rolodex and analyzing/assessing other companies. Do you need to be on the site everyday? Nope. Check in once or twice a week to answer a question, write a recommendation or make a new contact. The long-term benefits will be worth it.
Hope this helps!
*Note, I’ll be back to posting middle of next week. Out to Park City!