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Leveraging LinkedIn for your Networking Needs

April 4, 2013

Today’s post is courtesy of Kaitlyn Ethier, an account executive Rhino Public Relations. Questions or comments? Contact her at kaitlyn@rhinopr.com , Twitter @RhinoPR_Kaitlyn or visit www.rhinopr.com.

linkedinAlthough LinkedIn is not the newest social media site, it may still be one of the most beneficial networking tools for business professionals.  With more than 200 million acquired users, LinkedIn can easily help expand and enhance your networking capabilities in little to no time.

Below are a few ways to quickly leverage the networking power of LinkedIn:

  1. Professionalize your profile. It’s been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This same theory applies to social media. It is imperative that your profile is as professional as possible. This includes uploading a professional headshot and listing your full title. You’ve worked hard for that title, so don’t sell yourself short by abbreviating the description. To help with search engine optimization, list your job exactly as is done on your company’s LinkedIn page. Once you are connected to your company’s LinkedIn page, you will show up an as employee to all visitors who view the page. This will also help give your connections a better understanding of your company’s corporate culture, and facilitate a more personal connection. Remember that LinkedIn is to your professional life as Facebook is to your personal life. Don’t put anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want current or future employers, potential business partners, or clients to see.
  2. Connect with care. It is important to connect only with people you know. Although you can utilize the People You May Know feature, make sure that you actually know that person. Otherwise, the message to connect turns into just another cold call for the recipient, which rarely yields a positive relationship. Ask yourself: Is this someone you would feel comfortable calling on the phone? Have you done business with them before?  If so, it is important to connect with that person using a personalized message. This will help you stand out among the millions of LinkedIn users and create a lasting impression. If you are using LinkedIn for business development purposes, sending an invite is an easy way to follow up after meeting someone for the first time, but be sure to include how or where you met them to create a personal connection.  
  3. The devil is in the details. LinkedIn can be used to cast a wide net of contacts, with the potential of gaining new business, both within and outside of your network. Oftentimes, research is the difference between those that win new work and those that don’t. As you would before a new business meeting or an interview, be sure to do your research before connecting so that you are well informed of the person’s current position, previous experience, and any additional interests or professional affiliations. The information uncovered from their public profile can all be touch points that can enrich a conversation, an email, or a meeting.
  4. Be active. As with any social media tool, it only works if you keep it active and current. Be sure to update your experience section so that it accurately reflects your skills and qualifications, which includes listing any and all professional organizations and memberships. Being active includes updating your status with relevant articles, liking your connection’s updates, and commenting on those updates.

Social media is an essential part of business, but it can also be time consuming. If you feel like you are already spending too much time on social media, use Hoot Suite to help link your Twitter updates to your LinkedIn profile. Not only will this help you remain an avid social media participant, it can help you save time and focus more on those business development efforts! According to Diane Danielson, chief platform officer at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation and a recognized social media expert, various options of social media suit various needs. She likens Facebook to a high school reunion, Twitter to a cocktail party, and LinkedIn to new business meetings. Therefore, it is important to represent yourself as professionally and accurately as you would sitting in front of a new client, business leader, or future employer.

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