Over the last year, the LinkedIn bubble has just about burst. The idea was great, a social network where you could meet up with colleagues and friends and have a direct path to meeting new potential clients you would otherwise be cold-calling or never meet. It’s quite the powerful tool. But unfortunately, most people I talk to today don’t even use LinkedIn anymore. They may log in occasionally and clear the cobwebs, but then they’re off to Twitter or their Facebook business page.
Well, LinkedIn deserves better. It’s done a fantastic job of offering rich features to its users, some of which I guarantee the average user isn’t even aware of. Considering the time some businesses devote to “the conversation” on Twitter, I’d bet they’d get far closer to a sale if they even devoted half of that time to LinkedIn. Here are some ways to get LinkedIn working again for you:
1) Status Updates. Most LinkedIn users aren’t even aware of this feature. One of the newer additions to the LinkedIn profile, you are now able to update your status online, similar to Facebook and Twitter. What makes LinkedIn status updates especially valuable is that there aren’t a lot of people taking advantage of this feature, so it’s a great way to stand out. Subscribers to weekly emails from LinkedIn get the status updates from the people they’re connected to. In other words, if you update your status at least once a week, your connections on LinkedIn will see your name and what you’re up to in their inbox. At a time when there’s a lot of “noise” in the twittersphere, this is a great way to rise above it. Want to make it easier, just sign up via ping.fm, and your LinkedIn status update can be done simultaneously with Facebook, Twitter, and more.
2) Read the LinkedIn Blog. Okay, stick with me on this one. This is the most obvious thing, and it may not seem like valuable information – but seriously, are you doing it? No, you’re not. So listen up: The LinkedIn blog is a great resource to finding fantastic and unique ways of using LinkedIn. Developers and members of LinkedIn consistently update the blog with great tips. Whether you’re wanting to connect with others, or you’re looking for a job – the blog will likely provide your answers. You owe it to yourself to read the latest posts.
3) Participate in Q&A’s. LinkedIn’s got a great Q&A feature set that most people don’t know about or don’t use. I was first turned on to this by Christopher Butler of Newfangled. Christopher uses the Q&A feature on LinkedIn to ask his connections a web/marketing question, then gives them a week to answer. He then awards the best answers. If you were to answer his question and be awarded, your name would receive a badge for giving the best answer on a particular topic – making you a great resource for that topic (see where this is going??). But Christopher is rewarded, too. He stays fresh in his contacts’ minds. Further, he includes answers he receives in his research for Newfangled’s monthly newsletter (a most excellent resource, by the way!).
4) Work Your Groups. Groups are a great way to get more pro-actively involved with “casual” connections in your network. There are tons of questions, events, feedback requests, and commenting opportunities for just about every group in LinkedIn. Are you a member of your local Chamber? They probably have a group on LinkedIn. Jump in! They don’t have a group yet? Well, time to make yourself a great social networking resource and start the group yourself! You may not reach as many people as you would on Facebook or Twitter, but the people you’ll network with will have a much higher turn-around, since the interactions will be much more concentrated and business-centric.
5) Recommend People. Dear Moses! Don’t ask for recommendations! Seriously, if you have to ask to be recommended, then you haven’t done anything yet worth being recommended for. But, it is totally acceptable to “prime the pump” by recommending others. Make it a goal of yours to recommend 10 of your best connections over the next week. I can guarantee at least some of them will reciprocate. Before long, you’ll have a strong profile filled with quality recommendations that will have you standing out far above so many others.
Closing Thoughts. This is all very scratch-the-surface. LinkedIn has many other valuable resources. However, utilizing just these 5 tips starts LinkedIn actually working for you, rather than sitting benignly on the sidelines while you compete for attention on other overstuffed social media/networking sites. It’s time to make LinkedIn a revelant part of your networking strategy again!