How to use LinkedIn for Professional Networking

Siddharth Deswal works at Visual Website Optimizer, which sells A/B testing software. He has been involved with web development for 8 years and actively looks to help online businesses discover the value of conversion rate optimization. He tweets about A/B testing, landing pages and effective marketing tips on @wingify.

li faceLinkedIn as a social network has taken off. With an IPO and the acquisition of Slideshare, the company is only going to increase in influence and importance in the coming years. Given that the focus is completely professional, as a business owner you must continually leverage the network to work for you. Here are a few tips about how to do it:

1) Spruce up your profile

Research shows that when a customer, client or business associate is interested in learning about your company and has 3 of your company’s social profiles (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to choose from, they invariably pick LinkedIn first. Why? Because they’re going to work with you and your listed services and recommendations are a strong indication of how you will perform in the future.

Therefore, ensure that your profile is up to date with the services you offer today (not 5 years ago). Share all relevant content from your speaking and industry engagements (now that Slideshare has been bought by LinkedIn this is easily done) and that your company page is keyword rich for your industry or niche.

2) Spread the word

Setting up a relevant and up to date company page is the first step. Next you must spread the word. Link to your company page in your email signature, website “About Us” section, thought leadership articles in industry publications, presentations and any other form of outreach.

3) Establish thought leadership

How do you establish your company as a thought leader? It’s quite simple actually. First and foremost, go out and connect with people you know are well versed with and respected in your industry. Listen to them, learn from them and then come back and try out the things you have learned in your own business. For example, if you hear about a smart new way to increase SEO rankings, try it out in your business. When finished, tell the world about how it went on your blog and share a link to the blog post as an update on your company page. Do this regularly and soon you’ll become a thought leader within your industry.

4) Meaningfully engage with people over LinkedIn

Effectively connecting with people on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you just send them a connection request and forget about it. A connection request is just the first step. Once you’re done, follow their updates, leave thoughtful comments, congratulate them when they receive a promotion and meaningfully engage with them.

5) Join industry specific groups and be active

Most people feel that this takes too much time and is a waste. However, I promise that it isn’t and will hardly take 30 minutes of your time every day. All you have to do is join groups that are related to your industry and share the updates you post on your company page with these groups. But don’t just share, also comment and read content shared by others. Another great way to really get noticed is to answer people’s questions or ask specific, insightful ones about content shared by others.

6) Engage your real life networks on LinkedIn

One of the best ways to solidify your real life networks is by following up with them on LinkedIn. For example, if you meet someone at an industry conference and exchange business cards, go back and follow up with them on LinkedIn. Many people feel that you should email them, however, in a world that contains as excellent a professional network as LinkedIn, I feel email is too intrusive. Also, people are much more accepting of you contacting them for the first time on LinkedIn because its stated use is professional networking.

Once done, follow point number 4 above and soon you’ll have a valuable professional connection to a person you just met at a conference.

If you follow the above steps for just 30 minutes each day over time you’ll develop a thriving professional network on LinkedIn that will regularly generate leads and business for your company.

Your views?

Have you tried some of the advice given above? Has it worked for your company and is there something else you’d like to suggest? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below this post.

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