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LinkedIn is the most important social networking site for executives and professionals to work with. Those who are not connected are not connected to jobs, resources, great employees, or inside information.
But how do you optimize your LinkedIn contacts? Here are a few tips.
1). Make your profile public.
And put on your profile that you accept all invitations, and never say you don’t know someone. “IDKing” someone is the quickest way to kill your opportunities on LinkedIn.
2). Post a photo and do it now.
Profiles without photos are suspect. Don’t you think more positively about a potential connection with a photo? So why wouldn’t others think more positively of you if you have photo?
Don’t put up some photo where your face can’t be discerned. No cats, dogs, birds, snakes, husbands or other animals (sorry, guys, couldn’t resist!). Just a nice headshot of yourself alone, dressed in business-professional attire.
3). Invite fellow group members…carefully.
Most members will allow other members to send them messages without being connected. Before you invite a fellow group member, ask if that person would accept an invite from you. 95% of the people I’ve done this with have responded graciously with a “yes.”
If they’re one of those paranoid people who will not let other group members send them messages, you don’t want to connect with them anyway. Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t let you know this until you try to send them a message.
4). Make it easy to send you a message.
Put your email address in your profile. You can’t put it in your name – one of LinkedIn’s many draconian and anti-networking rules doesn’t allow it, and they might close your account for this terrible sin.
5). Join all the groups that are relevant to you.
You can join up to 50 groups. Make sure you are a member of at least 30, and more is better. Then, take a little time each day to reply to some posts and see who is posting.
Most people posting will accept an invite from you to link. This is a great way to build your connections.
6). Post often.
Especially post on groups that are in your field. Get to be known as someone who is stable and has good ideas within the LinkedIn Groups. Don’t get too controversial unless, like me, part of your trademark is “controversial.”
7). Answer questions.
Give detailed and lengthy answers with good information to questions. I’ve answered about 10 questions and have gotten voted “Best Answer” three times…a great ratio. When you get voted “Best Answer” LinkedIn designates you as an “expert” in that area. The more questions you answer, the better your chances of gaining an expert designation in your field and others.
Link with the person who asked the question you’re answering. Always take the time to send that person a personal note offering more aid and giving your email address and phone number. Most people will gratefully respond, at least with a “thank you.”
8). Ask people at networking events if you can invite them. In your networking you will meet many people. If you have their business card, you have an email address on them. Write them and ask for permission to invite them on LinkedIn.
9). Personalize all invites. Never just use the curt invitation that LinkedIn gives you. Send a short (LinkedIn won’t let you send long) but personalized invitation to those with whom you wish to link. Remind them how you know them, and, most importantly, say the following at the end of each invite: “If you do not wish to accept, please just archive. Please do not say you don’t know me. Thank you.”
10). Pass on all intro requests. Part of being a good LinkedIn citizen is to give back. Pass on any requests that your network sends you to introduce them to another member of your network. Doing so builds trust and credibility.
11). Recommend people. I tell my clients to sit down and recommend everyone they are able to recommend. This includes: current and previous employees, peers and superiors; any vendors or servicepeople; friends whose work you have seen, and so on.
12). Refuse to recommend anyone whose work you have not seen. LinkedIn is a business networking site. Only recommend those whose work you know and have personally seen. Being dishonest does not enhance your LinkedIn status…or your reputation.
13). Ask all who have seen your work for recommendations. If you recommend someone, LinkedIn does this for you. They’ll say to the person you recommended “Now return the favor.” Giving recommendations is the quickest way to get recommendations.
14). Put your LinkedIn profile address on your business card. And personalize your LinkedIn profile address. LinkedIn will even walk you through doing so if you go to “edit profile.”
15). Personalize the links listed on LinkedIn to your company or personal website. Again, LinkedIn will allow you to do this and will walk you through the process online.
Expect to spend about an hour an day on LinkedIn if you want to truly grow your connections and become a powerful networker.
We also recommend you buy Mike O’Neil’s and Lori Ruff’s book Rock the World With Your On-Line Presence, available at www.integratedalliances.com.
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