I first heard about LinkedIn in a Social Media course in Stompernet. Unfortunately it was only briefly touched upon and I never learned anything more. And that’s the way it stayed for a few years. It seemed that the restrictions were fairly severe and I just didn’t get it. Until now.
These past few months I’ve made a point of learning more about LinkedIn and how to best use it as part of my social media campaigns. I’ve had numerous questions about LinkedIn so have created this step-by-step guide for you.
What LinkedIn Is
LinkedIn is mainly a directory of professionals and companies. People use it for networking, for job searches (and hiring). It can be used for company research, industry research, alumni research. It has thousands of groups you can join to learn more about specific interests you might have. You could use it as an online resume, as a link to your business skill sets.
Business associates can endorse your skills which gives you more authority in that area. Especially if you are looking to find work using your skilss.
What LinkedIn Is Not
It is not a place to post status updates to your friends. Use Facebook for this. Think of LinkedIn as a professional and business tool, not a social tool.
What To Do First
You’ll need to sign up (it’s free). You can also use your Facebook credentials to sign up to save time.
Next you’ll want to create a profle and LinkedIn has a profile wizard to take you through the necessary steps. I won’t go into detail about what you can add here, just follow the instructions.
Then you can start adding connections, finding people you know. You can allow LinkedIn access to your email accounts however I never do this, I prefer to add contacts (on all social media sites) myself.
There are a number of steps you can go through on the site and some warnings at the end of the page. I’d take heed of these warnings.
The basic membership is free and that’s probably all most of you will need. You can have a free month of premium membership but it’s not something I’ve felt the need to take advantage of.
As a member, ask yourself why you wanted to join LinkedIn. Are you looking to sell your skills to an employer, look for new employees for your company, find new clients? Having some written goals will help keep you on track.
It’s important to have a professional looking profile picture. Not the one taken at the beach or with your mates after a party. People like being able to put a name to a face. If you don’t want your boss to see that you’re looking for a new job, you can change your privacy settings so only your contacts can see your photo.
If you meet people in a real life situation at a seminar, chamber of commerce meeting or similar, you can look up their profile on LinkedIn afterwards. Conversly, you can look up the speaker who will be talking at next week’s meeting. Seeing a face with the name will help you remember them. And don’t forget that others can look at your profile for the same reason.
Have a good look at some other profiles to see what others are doing. If you you are looking for employment, be creative. Don’t jut say ‘unemployed’. Keep it concise but but attention grabbing.
Your summary should be about you, not your company. Make it rich but keep it concise. Talk about your achievements, results you’ve had in your work and what types of things you do daily. Don’t tell people how good you are, show them.
Keep your profile up to date and post statuses. If you’ve just landed a big job for yourself or your employer, tell people. If you’ve just finished a website for a client, let others know and post a link to it. This is not bragging, it’s letting people know and see your professional qualifications.
Explore LinkedIn’s applications and sections. These can add depth to your profile.
Don’t connect with everyone who asks you. Only connect with those you already know. Remember, you can ask your contacts for introductions to others you’d like to connect with. When you ask to connect with someone, make sure you personalize the request and let them know why you want to connect.
Don’t forget to join some groups of interest. This is connecting you to more people and you are kept up to date with what’s happening in them. I get a daily email from my groups and it’s easy to scan these to see if I want to read further. Participate in these groups, don’t be shy. If you can answer a question, do so. Remember you are helping others, just as you were undoubtedly helped when you started out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed and learned from this step-by-step guide to LinkedIn. I missed out on using it for too long as I didn’t really understand it. Now I enjoy using it to keep in contact with professionals I’ve met online (and off) over the years.