LinkedIn now has more than 100M users and will continue to grow. For those of you who are still not sure what you should be doing, I think it worth bearing in mind the following:
- It is (still) free, although the way it is set up it is adroit at pushing you in the direction of paying for a premium account. [There are a few people in professional practice who will probably subscribe for a premium service because they want to have the kudus of having that little circle and gold LinkedIn button by their name. Somehow they think it gives them more status amongst their connections and those they wish to connect with.]
- It requires daily use. Nothing will happen by chance. As Tom Peters has said “The calendar never, ever lies.” If you have determined to use LinkedIn for your practice, then you will need to do more than simply log on. How much time you spend each day is entirely a matter for you, but, as a minimum, I would be inclined to view it first thing in the morning, at lunchtime and before you go home in the evening.
- Think of it as your personal website. If you did pay £1,500 or more then trust me you would not make it as dull as the majority of profiles that I read. Start with the Why, then consider the How (your Unique Selling Proposition) and finally the What (see Simon Sinek’s fantastic video on why leaders think the way they do). Most people dive straight into the what: “I am dispute resolution lawyer with 10 years experience.” And I wonder how many other lawyers there are who all do that!
- Consider your title, the summary of experience section and what you say about your current and past roles. Do they contain the sort of words that people are searching for on the web? If you are not sure what are the most popular words (for a Google search) then load up the (free) tool, Google Adwords Keywords tool and put in the words that you are considering including in your profile. You will get a snap shot of the number of people in the UK and worldwide who are searching for that term. You will be surprised at what you find.
- Change the url to remove the guff that LinkedIn automatically gives you. You will find this on the edit page next to the url. My url is http://www.linkedin.com/in/juliansummerhayes and I appear second for my name on a Google search with my blog appearing first. If you are thinking of using LinkedIn on your website, business card or email signature then make sure you change your url so that it includes your name. If you find that someone else already has your name then LinkedIn will automatically suggest the names that you should take.
- Make sure that your profile is 100% complete. LinkedIn tells you when you have reached this point. But quality is better than quantity.
- If you are running Microsoft Outlook and you have set up your LinkedIn profile using your firm’s email then you can import under the tab in the top right hard corner “Add connections” all of your connection in your Outlook address book. You can also export out your connections. You will find this under the connections list.
- Check your picture. There are still a lot of people who have no picture and those that do are not worried about the impression that a grainy little image portrays to the outside world.
- Make sure that you share something to your connections or everyone using the box on the front page that says “Share an update”. If you haven’t used it yet, and I bet you haven’t, then you need at the very least to be sharing from your website some of your firm news. Of course, if you have a share button or LinkedIn button on the appropriate page on your website then you can do it from there. The whole idea is to stay front of mind with your connections, but more than that you will appear in the stream that your connections see and they will be able to comment on it or share it amongst their connections. Think ‘remarkable’. Is what you are sharing remarkable or how can you put your own slant on things that mean that people take a bit more notice of you. This doesn’t mean that you should be broadcasting all your latest news but rather the material that you really care about. You can also share the content from other locations but of course you must reference the source.
- Start checking each day how many people are looking at your profile. Behind that number if you click on it you will find a very crude piece of analytics which will show you how many views there have been of your profile since around 3 April together with the number of times you have appeared in searches. I would want to pursue a policy of increasing those numbers so that my efforts were being rewarded.
- Join some groups where your clients or referrers are likely to circulate. The suggestions that LinkedIn give you, at least in the early days, are much more likely to be skewed in the direction of your sector or industry, which means if you join the groups you will end up in a lot of talking shops.
- Importantly start tagging your connections so you can see what area they fall into. LinkedIn will automatically assign you ‘friends’ and ‘colleagues’ but as you grow your network you need to make sure you are on top of this. I still have to complete this exercise properly and until I have completed it I am left in a situation where I have to manually go through a lot of profiles to make sure they are who I think they are.
- Make sure that you open up a Slideshare account and load that application into your LinkedIn profile to appear on the front page. Once you have done that you can then upload any pdf documents which will at least showcase something of your firm. If you have video then you can also upload that to slideshare.
- Make a habit of emailing your connections and trying to add value or connect them to others where there might be an opportunity for them to work together.
- Use the Events page for all your external events. You and others can then invite you connections. Don’t forget you need to send out invites more than once.
This is just a brief selection of some of the basics of LinkedIn. I say ‘basics’ because you really should be looking at LinkedIn as a CRM system and a way to manage your social media efforts.
You can expect LinkedIn to continue to grow and work closely with a number of other social media platforms to make the experience better for you and your connections. I envisage that the integration in time will enable you to use LinkedIn as a SCRM (Social Client Relationship Management) platform if only because they will have to compete with other interlopers who come along to try and steal a bit of the Business to Business (B2B) market.
One last point. You need to include LinkedIn on your business development agenda. There needs to be much greater co-ordination across the firm so that as well as talking about email marketing, networking and speaking engagements you also work out a strategy that includes LinkedIn.
For me, I love LinkedIn. It is safe, reliable, engaging and provides a platform for doing business that is utterly credible. It does not suffer like Facebook with lots of people trying to sell me on something. If anything, I wish I had a few more people who were prepared to make contact to discuss their offering. I sense there is a nervousness about being too forward for fear of getting a reputation. I wouldn’t be too worried about that. If your connections think you can add value to their business then why wouldn’t they want to hear from you.
~ JulianSummerhayes ~