I would like to think I’m somewhat similar to the typical LinkedIn user. I have one, I log in pretty much every day, I have a couple hundred connections, I read articles my connections post, I have my work history, my education, skills, a handful of endorsements. But, I struggle with knowing I’m likely not utilizing it most effectively. The question I always ask myself is – what exactly should I be doing differently?
A recent article in PR Tactics by Stephen Dupont, “How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn,” tackles the question of how to best use LinkedIn to achieve goals relevant to you. Dupont acknowledges, making those like me feel a bit better, that it isn’t easy to know how to most effectively use LinkedIn.
“It’s all business all the time on LinkedIn, where as a post on Facebook about a serious business issue seems out of place among the updates about kittens, vacations and the latest restaurant conquest,” Dupont says. “With this edge of seriousness comes a wall of intimidation…it’s hard not to feel lost at times.”
LinkedIn, which has been around for 10 years and has over 238 million users as of September 2013, has “proven itself to be the premier social media platform for business professionals,” he says.
The “1 Percent”
We all know of them – those few people you’re connected with who just seem to get it. Everything has a place and makes sense. They don’t seem arrogant; they just seem awesome.
“These are not necessarily users who have thousands of LinkedIn contacts, or members who push out a relentless stream of article links and profile updates,” Dupont says. “What separates the LinkedIn 1 percent from the other 99 percent boils down to three key factors: The 1 percent understand exactly why they’re on LinkedIn, they’re willing to experiment with this still-evolving technology, and they’ve built a process…to attract and engage the people who they want to connect with most.”
Dupont cites author Kevin Knebl’s statement, “LinkedIn is a magnifier…If you haven’t developed good networking skills, LinkedIn will magnify those skills and make it appear like you really don’t know what you’re doing. On the other hand, if you’re really good at networking, LinkedIn can amplify and accelerate your efforts.”
Making LinkedIn Work for You
While that might make you feel anxious (it certainly does for me), there are useful tips Dupont gives that you can employ to make LinkedIn more effective for you:
- Before meeting with someone, always look at their LinkedIn profile. You might notice a mutual college, interest or connection.
- If you can see that someone new has visited your profile, take initiative and reach out to them and see how you can help them.
- Remember that the best kind of networking you can do is still face-to-face.
- Keep your profile current and up-to-date, and include key words relevant to your expertise so that you position yourself to show up in search results. Also, ask people to write recommendations on your behalf.
- Be open to writing recommendations for your connections, too. This also enables you to show up on their profiles.
- We’ve heard this tip a lot in relation to our Facebook posts and Tweets, but it is just as important for LinkedIn – carefully manage the content you post. Ensure that it is high-quality and from a trustworthy source. In a previous blog post, we elaborate on what to share on LinkedIn.
- Utilize LinkedIn to supplement and enhance the networking you are already doing. Dupont reminds us to “always keep in mind that networking is about working a system that’s driven by win-win relationships.”
Dupont says that since the launch of LinkedIn 10 years ago, clients, colleagues and friends have asked him if they should be on LinkedIn, and if so, how they can get more out of it.
He says, “My answer has always been “yes” to the first question, for the most obvious reason: It offers potential employers, recruiters and prospective clients an opportunity to learn about you and your experience…The answer to the second question, however, has always been less defined. I’m still trying to crack the code.”