Posted by David Oates 1 year ago

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I get asked a lot about the use of LinkedIn. The questions are varied, but tend to fall into three general categories:

  • Is there real value in posting?
  • Should I accept invitations from anyone?
  • Are the premium (paid) features worth it?

My answers: Yes, No and Almost Always No.

Before I continue, let me submit a disclaimer. I’m neither certified in nor declare myself to be an expert of all things LinkedIn. I am a marketer and am intimately familiar with this and other social media platforms. What I offer below is based more on personal experience than anything else. So with that, let me state unequivocally that LinkedIn is a wonderfully valuable tool that, for just 15 minutes a day, can provide more than an adequate amount of leads and business opportunities. What’s more, I’m fully convinced that anyone - and I do mean ANYONE - can profit from leverage LinkedIn for their professional development.

There’s no real secret to the approaches I offer. Rather, I will try to simplify your use of LinkedIn, and in doing so offer you the chance to engage the system regularly and systematically that will in turn give you a return for the time you invest in it. If done right, this social media platform can not only generate new leads, but also keep you and your brand at the top of mind with existing contacts while also offering great insights into markets and companies.

So at a minimum, take 15 minutes a day to do one or the following:

Keep your profile up to date 

This is of fundamental importance. If your profile is incomplete or not current, you won’t even get in the game. First, make sure you have a professional headshot in your profile. Don’t use one that looks like you just stepped off the beach or got in late from a bar hopping adventure. This is a social media platform for like-minded, career enthusiasts, so act accordingly. 

Second, make sure your summary not only explains what you do, but also highlights your unique selling points and value proposition. This should be done in the first sentence. Take a moment to solicit endorsements and recommendations (and do the same for others) to back up those claims. There’s nothing better than having other folks sing your praises.

Target companies and individuals

This is probably the most valuable — and at the same time underutilized — benefit of LinkedIn. With this platform, stalking is not only authorized, it’s encouraged. Now by that, I’m not suggesting users do anything nefarious. What I do mean is that it is perfectly acceptable for you to use LinkedIn’s search functions to research specific organizations that you’d like to explore potential opportunities. Once you do, take a look at the cadre of the individuals listed as current employees. In many cases, you may find you’re only a couple of degrees removed from someone that you could develop a mutually beneficial connection.

When you do connect, send along a friendly hello and ask to meet up to see if you can learn more. Be sure to sincerely express a desire to be of service to them, and not just for your own personal gain. It’s a biz “Zen-like” to do so, but this mindset will generate significantly more quality connections than asking for a job or some one-sided economic agenda.

One last note. Unless you’re a recruiter, the premium features are not much value. Your connections with others have to be genuine and built on referrals much in the same way good business contacts are made in the offline world. LinkedIn just provides an efficient platform to do this, but shouldn’t be leveraged for “mass mailings” type of purposes. So don’t bother signing up for the premium features.

Post helpful items

Be sure to post updates 2-3 times a week. They should be positive and helpful in nature. Pay it forward to some respects and give kudos to others within and outside of your organization. If your posts are too “salesy" or promotional, they’ll have the exact opposite effect of what you intend and turn off prospects. The old adage is true, even online; people buy from people that they know, like and respect. Be that one in your correspondence.

Want to see what I mean? Take a look at my profile.

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