In today’s fast paced business world, networking and marketing through a social media strategy is essential for growth. One way thousands of small and large businesses are doing this is through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a socially professional way to stay up to date on what your competition is doing and to stay connected with other businesses and industries.
Now that you know why you should use LinkedIn, you need to know how to get started using it. Actually, it’s fairly simple to begin using LinkedIn. You basically begin by setting up a profile and connecting with others.
Begin by creating your login profile here. The steps are pretty straightforward.
Once your account is created, you will need to create your profile which consists of information you want to share with others. This page should reflect your professional interests, passions and your future ambitions.
Name: Use your first and last name so others can find you.
Headline: Underneath your name there is an area for a short four or five word headline. These are the most important words in your profile since it is how others will find you and characterize you. If you only want to connect with others in your industry a simple headline that explains who you are will suffice. Try to avoid words that impart very little meaning such as “marketer”, “innovator” or “entrepreneur”.
Image: Add your image. It should be a good head shot that you won’t mind others seeing. Profiles without images are rarely viewed.
Website: Customize your website “alt text” and URL. In the section for adding a new website, choose the “other” from the drop down list. This brings up the option to add a “website title” so your link is now an anchor text link.
Recommendations: Ask for recommendations or endorsements from others. Recommendations give you bragging rights about achievements and lets prospects hear good things from others you have worked with.
Contact: Set how you want to be contacted at the bottom of your profile page; by email or phone. Also what do you want to be contacted about? Set this at the bottom of your profile page by selecting your interests like consult offers, career opportunities or reference requests.
Don’t include contact information you aren’t comfortable sharing. Even though your contact information is only seen by those you are connected to, you have to, to decide if you want to include certain things like phone numbers or a personal email address.
Also leave out anything about your past you don’t want fellow LinkedIn connections to know.
And of course, don’t stretch the truth. Keep in mind your profile is seen by a lot of people, including your past colleagues, bosses and family members.
Connect to Others: Make sure your profile on the right side of the page reads as 90% to 100% complete before you begin adding connections. Click on the “Contact” tab and select “Add Connections”. You will see four options here: Importing contacts from email, looking for colleagues, classmates and ‘People you may know.’
Choose your option for inviting contacts. Don’t add more than 15 people the first day on LinkedIn. That keeps you under the spam radar. Once these people have accepted your invitation, LinkedIn will begin recommending people you might already know.
Word of warning: Don’t open your wallet.
Think hard before you open your wallet and begin paying for some of LinkedIn’s services like InMail and subscription based Premium memberships for hardcore job hunters. LinkedIn is an excellent service without paying for anything extra.
Getting started using LinkedIn is as simple as setting up your profile and inviting others to connect with you. Take your time setting up your headline and add contacts a few at a time.
LinkedIn’s Built in Tools and Services
LinkedIn offers a variety of tools and services to help you manage and network with your connections. Take advantage of them to make staying connected easier while still being in the loop of what is happening in your industry.
Now that you have your LinkedIn profile set up it’s time to explore the services. There is a tool for nearly anyone who joins the network. There are job services for those seeking a job. LinkedIn even recommends jobs according to what is in your profile.
There are tools for keeping up to date easily, for learning from top influencers and for working from your mobile.
The LinkedIn tools section can be accessed through the link at the bottom of your homepage. This is where the free tools are that you can add to your browser or email program.
The tools are:
- Outlook Social Connector – This tool lets you stay connected to your network from Outlook.
- Mobile – With mobile you can get the latest updates and be able to share your status from your mobile phone.
- Google Toolbar Assistant – With this tool you can add a LinkedIn search button to your Google toolbar
- Sharing Bookmarklet – The sharing bookmarklet allows you to share web pages right from your browser.
- Email Signature – Customize your email signatures
- Mac Search Widget – If you use a Mac, this tool lets you search LinkedIn from your Mac dashboard.
- Channels – This is another handy LinkedIn tool. It allows you to find relevant and quality articles based on professional topics you might be interested in reading. The content is written by influencers and some third-party news sources.
Following channels is a way to stay informed about what is trending.
To follow a channel:
a) Place your cursor over the Profile at the top of your homepage.
b) Select Following.
c) Click +Follow on any of the channels you want to follow.
One thing you should realize is that even though there will be regular post from the experts you follow, you might not be seeing all of their posts. It’s a good idea to go to that influencer’s page to see all their posts.
Taking advantage of LinkedIn’s built in tools and services can make your social media time easier. You can stay up to date on what is happening with those you follow using LinkedIn’s services.
Another feature to build your profile is the LinkedIn’s Endorsements feature. This feature allows users to endorse their connections for the skills and experience they have listed in their profile. They can also recommend skills that you haven’t listed. The endorsements then show up in your profile. It will boost your expertise.
A new feature LinkedIn has implemented is the ability to display samples of your work. You do this on your profile page. You can link to images, presentations, videos, or other types of content. Or you can upload them. (Note: Not everyone has access to this feature yet. It will be released to everyone later.)
How to show or change the media samples in your profile
To add media samples in the Summary, Education or Experience sections of your profile:
- Place cursor over Profile on your homepage. Select Edit Profile.
- Select the section you want to add samples to. Hover over the add media icon. This looks like a square with a plus sign.
- Select Upload File to display media or select Add Link if you’re linking to content on another website.