Step 1: Set up a profile that works for you
With LinkedIn, everything starts with the profile you generate for your account.
Many people who are getting started with LinkedIn think that it’s just an electronic CV. This may have been the case a few years ago, however these days it’s a very savvy social media tool that can increase your chances of getting found on Google, help position you as an expert in your field, and bring you opportunities to win new clients
With this in mind, your profile should read as a sales document for you.
Ensuring your profile is 100 percent complete, and at a minimum includes some recommendations, work history and a professional photo means that it will feature in more search results both within the LinkedIn network and on Google. This in turn means your LinkedIn profile will bring you much more online exposure.
To take your profile to the next step, add applications to your profile. Why? They help boost your profile and can also help direct traffic to your Twitter account and blog. Two that I use and highly recommend are Box.net, which is a great tool to upload files and share via links, and WordPress, which allows my blog to appear in my profile.
In short, if you aren’t selling yourself in your LinkedIn profile, then you are missing out on an opportunity to do all of the above. Review the profiles of other people you know on LinkedIn, observe what they’re doing well, and then develop your own from there.
Step 2: Make connections
Once you have a complete profile, the next step is to connect with people you know.
In essence, the more connections you have, the more your name will appear in LinkedIn searches and the more chances you have of being found by your target audience.
LinkedIn provides tools that enable you to connect with everyone you know en masse, however, I didn’t follow that format. Instead I sent ‘Invitations to connect’ to people that I knew (or had on my database) and I did so with a personalised message. Whilst this took some extra time upfront, I was still able to connect with many people relatively quickly.
After you’ve connected with people you already know, the next step is to connect with people that you don’t know. This is where it gets tricky.
There are no hard and fast rules about this process. Some people prefer to keep their LinkedIn networks as closed shops, while others widely promote themselves as LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs). You’ll need to proceed through trial and error; I have had both successes and failures with this over time.
Tips for connecting with people you don’t know
LinkedIn provides a box that lists ‘People you May Know’ and you may spot someone of interest in that list. When you do, I highly recommend writing a personal note to them saying why they should connect with you. (To me, sending the invitation to someone I don’t know without the personalised note would be similar to sending spam).
Another way to start connecting with people you don’t know is to like or comment on status updates of people who are in the networks of people you do know and are connected with. When you do that, your comments appear within their networks and you’re exposed to a wider audience, allowing people to find you. This is a much slower process but can be highly effective.
Do you have any more tips for getting started with LinkedIn? Please share them below.
“ If you aren’t selling yourself in your LinkedIn profile, then you are missing out on an opportunity. ”