LinkedIn is like going to a party
When it comes to social media, many individuals fret about having a comprehensive strategy, procrastinate for fear of saying the wrong thing, or in some cases, simply write it off as the domain of ‘marketing’. But LinkedIn is a platform made for individuals to connect with other individuals, so unlike the company Twitter or Facebook accounts, your personal profile is something others can’t manage for you.
But don’t panic, it’s not as daunting as it may seem. An unusual analogy perhaps, but really LinkedIn is just like going to a party, simply another way of connecting with people. So follow these easy steps and you’ll be fine:
1. Find a party you want to go to
LinkedIn is a party you want to go to - a powerful tool, not just for marketing, but for HR and sales too - and with over 300 million users worldwide, it’s a platform serious professionals can’t afford to ignore.
But once you get there, what next? Well, remember why you came in the first place. Why did you sign up to LinkedIn? To attract potential customers, to connect with current clients, to look for new jobs; whatever the reason, find out where those people are. What room of the party are they in, i.e. what groups have they joined? Use the search functionality to find out, and join the same ones. Get yourself in the place you want to be seen.
2. Use connections you already have
Whether at a party, or on LinkedIn, it’s natural to gravitate towards people you already know. The well-known phrase ‘it’s about who you know, not what you know’ transcends into the social media sphere. So connect with existing and previous business contacts, colleagues, customers and work friends - they will help provide ways in to the people you are looking to meet.
Use them to build your profile by asking for endorsements, and more importantly recommendations (short testimonials) - when they come from the right people they can be incredibly powerful. Also look at the content, connections, and groups your connections have to establish what you should be saying and where.
3. Don’t jump in to conversation feet first
It’s a social faux pas to walk in to a party and start talking about yourself. A good party guest will get their bearings, join in conversations, ask questions and get to know people before introducing their own topics of conversation. Well, the same applies for LinkedIn.
In the same way you speak to people on a daily basis, you need to retain some social etiquette. Rather than jumping in feet first and trying to start your own conversation, first join in with other people’s. Find a relevant discussion, think about what you want to say, and then type away.
4. Introduce yourself properly
When the time comes, you want to introduce yourself properly, give a good overview of who you are and what you do. This is what your personal profile is for. Fill in as many sections as possible. Not only does LinkedIn rank people with a fuller profile higher, it will make it easier for people to understand exactly what you do, what your credentials are, and will make your profile more searchable. On that note, make sure you customise your URL too.
For most of you, you’ll already have a biography and if not, you should certainly have a CV, so don’t worry about what you’re going to write - you have all the content already!
Be careful not to overload each section with information though. Just as party guests don’t want to be bored with every minute detail of your life, nor do your connections on LinkedIn. See it as a summary, and if in doubt, keep it simple.
5. Don’t be too ‘salesy’
No one goes to a party to hear a sales pitch. That’s not to say, people won’t buy goods or services from someone they have met at a social gathering, just that they don’t want to be overtly sold to. The same applies with LinkedIn. Join in conversation, provide interesting comment, and when the time comes (of course) introduce what you have to offer, but don’t go for a hard sell.
LinkedIn is a platform for discussion and nurturing old connections, or making new ones. Its main power comes in connecting with a wider audience, and maintaining awareness of who you are and what you do. That happens through sharing not selling. Remember that and you may just generate some excellent business leads.