Professionals have been using LinkedIn to connect with other professionals for years. During some of the talks I have given over the past year about Social Media Strategy, I have even told people (at least at the beginning) they can regard LinkedIn as a more stagnant social network. I tell people to complete their profile to their liking and connect with people they know personally. At least then they will have a modest number of connections as well as a complete profile filled with the relevant information.
When companies and individuals are getting started on Social media, I advise them to look at other networks at this point as they require much more attention during their inception. I generally advise users to start building their Facebook presence at this point, because 95% of the time spent on social media in the US is spent on Facebook.
Let’s fast forward, you have build up your Facebook presence and are confident with your Facebook Strategy. You decided that you aren’t ready to start work on Twitter, but want to get more involved on LinkedIn. Remember, not all social media sites are created equal, there are pros and cons to each network. In this example, I am assuming you have taken the time to figure out which network is best for you to work on next.
Now that you have decided to grow your LinkedIn presence, here are some results you will get from LinkedIn:
1. Detailed information about new connections
2. Increased Traffic to Your Website
3. Partnership/Business Opportunities
4. Status as a ‘Thought Leader’
5. Help with Specific Business Problems
Now how do you reach these results? You need to interact with the users on LinkedIn. Your first step should be through joining LinkedIn Groups. 81% of LinkedIn users belong to a group on LinkedIn. The benefit of a LinkedIn group is it gives your profile more visibility (insofar as you are active) and when you connect to new people that is your common ground.
I think the real power behind a LinkedIn profile is ‘LinkedIn Answers’. There are already large online communities dedicated to answering questions, e.g. Quora. The content on these sites is all user-created, and LinkedIn Answers is no different. So you may not consider yourself an expert, but I bet you have enough experience to answer a few questions. You are the expert insofar as you know more than the person asking the question, and as long as you are adding value with your answers people will be grateful.
Scroll through the questions people are asking and genuinely answer their questions. Provide sources, if you are an active blogger provide a link to your blog that further answers the question (this helps increase site traffic). If your answer is well written, solves a problem, and provides proof you will likely be awarded the ‘Top Answer’. As you answer more questions and receive more top answers your opinion will be valued and more people will want to connect with you.
LinkedIn Answers are a two-way street, maybe you aren’t looking to become a thought leader but have questions of your own. Before you ask a question be sure to check if it had been asked before, redundancy is annoying. If your question hasn’t been asked yet, ask away! Whenever I ask a question on LinkedIn, I make sure to ask some of my connections who I think may have some insights. By getting some activity on the question you asked, other people’s networks will be aware of the Question and you may get answers that you didn’t expect. One thing I can’t stress enough, thank people who answer and then choose the best answer to the group. People are taking the time to answer your question, so if someone has a truly outstanding answer make sure to reward them with the top answer.
If you take part in Groups, Answers, and follow up with a LinkedIn invitation after real-life networking events you will have a stellar profile. Good Luck!