Short and sweet:
LinkedIn – an established Business to Business (“B2B”) platform with 100M+ users
Marketing – that oft quoted but often yawn-worthy word that is expected by one and All
The question which vexes the majority of people is how to combine the two.
Where to start?
Here is the link to my profile:
I created it some time ago and it could probably do with a refresh but it works for me. If I aggregated the time spent in building the profile (not adding connections) it is probably about 2 full days.
If you are minded to give LinkedIn a whirl then it requires purpose, creative thought and energy.
Don’t think that by doing the bare minimum – no picture and simply your current job title – you will get anything out of it. Frankly, you are wasting your time. You might get the odd person flirt with you but apart from your current colleagues, you are unlikely to extend your reach beyond a handful of worthwhile contacts.
Do a Google, Bing or Yahoo search for your name. Here are my results (as bit.ly links):
You will see that I am either ranked 2nd or 3rd behind my blogs. Of course, it makes a difference if you have a slightly unusual name but, even so, if you want to be found (the power of BrandYou and all that – see The Fast Company article by Tom Peters that I have referred to on a number of previous occasions) then don’t rely on your firm’s website. Think of LinkedIn as your personal website, one that you can expand, amend with surprising ease and use to market your services.
Just imagine, for those of you who were previously involved in commissioning your firm’s first website, if someone approached you offering the functionality of LinkedInfor FREE. Your first inclination might be to think “There must be a catch”. But, assuming you got over your initial suspicion, surely you would want to dive in with both feet on the basis that the offer was simply too good to be true. So far, even though the focus at LinkedIn is to push you in the direction of a premium account, you can still use the basic account very successfully.
One last word. You might be worried that LinkedIn will go the way of other platforms. I can’t be 100% sure that it will still be around in the next 5 years, but my hunch is that LinkedIn will continue to grow and become an accepted platform, especially for job seekers.
But what about the marketing angle?
Here is my hit list of Must Do’s that you should aim to incorporate into your LinkedIn efforts over the next month:
- On your profile page change your URL (if you have not done it already) to show your name. LinkedIn, when you open your account, gives you a URL which includes your name but also includes a load of guff at the end. Go to the settings page and under “Helpful Links” you will see “Edit your Profile”. From there you will be able to amend your URL and make it unique to you. You should find that this improves your Google search and also enables the URL to be used on your firm’s website (if you don’t use the LinkedIn icon) and on business cards, email signatures and letters (if you so desire).
- Use the “Add connections” button in the top right corner to upload your contacts from Outlook. Be careful that you do not upload people that you would rather not be connected with. You will find that the programme defaults to everyone.
- On your front screen the box at the top has the words “Share an update”. Chances are, up to now, you have not done anything to share content or, if you have, you are not really sure what it is that you should be sharing. You will probably have noticed that most of the material that appears in your stream is coming via Twitter. Normally that is because those positing are operating a dashboard where they are able to post across multiple platforms. The point is if you do share something that is remarkable it is far more likely that your connections, who will be following your stream, will share the material across their connections. If it is dull and boring chances are you may find that you get a flea in your ear for posting crap or they may even go so far as to boot you off their connections.
- Open up a Slideshare account and upload some non client specific content. Once you have an account, you can then bolt it on to your LinkedIn profile. You need to go to the “More” tab and you will see where it then allows you to add in Slideshare as an application.
- You should join some groups. How many is a matter for you. Don’t just join industry groups. Join some groups where your clients, referrers or introducers are likely to lurk. Don’t join groups where there are a lot of your competitors nor where there is less than 100 members.
- Share valuable content within the groups and stay on top of any comments that are made. Get away from simply commenting on something that your firm has promoted. Instead, subject to the usual rules on confidentiality, think of something that is topical around your subject area.
- Finally, but most importantly, you need to reach out to people to connect, network and introduce others (adopt a giving mentality – See the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann). Your first inclination is to think how you can sell but, to be honest, LinkedIn folk do not react very well to the overt “Hey look at us” approach. Far better to start off on a softly, softly line and perhaps inviting them to an event of yours. Next, you may want to consider how you can introduce, like the typical big cheese on campus, two or more people to one another. If you must sell then far better to simply invite someone to an informal meeting or have a telephone discussion. You will see that quite a few people put their contact information on their LinkedIn profile. You might also use the 5 free introductions that a basic account gives you to see if any of your connections can introduce you to someone else. Better still you ask your connection if they would be willing to come along to an initial meeting or be in on a three-way call. You have to overcome your resistance to making direct contact but not in a way that makes people run for the hills.
One of the issues that any new platform faces, much like Google+, is that everyone has to adjust to a new way of working. LinkedIn has probably passed the puberty stage but don’t be surprised if your initial results fall a little flat. Don’t give up. Perhaps try to think of ways, using your traditional marketing channels, where you can educate your consumers to make the connection via LinkedIn. Make it known that you are happy to receive instructions in that way and keep your profile as open as possible.
LinkedIn is a safe platform. It has expanded its reach beyond the US (unlike Google+ at the moment) and is an accepted platform for doing business.
You can no longer ignore its potential. Spend some time on your profile, growing your connections and spreading remarkable content. Give yourself a target of spending no less than 15 minutes per day.
Reach out and connect with people. Be engaging. Don’t make everything so blindingly obvious.
Review your progress every week. Make sure it is paying its way. If its not working then don’t give up. The best advice is to ask your connections how you can help them.
As glib as it may sound you will only get out of it what you put into it.
~ Julian Summerhayes ~