Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Magic of LinkedIn

While many of my colleagues and I have been active on LinkedIn since it went live in May of 2003, I don't think any of us realized its true potential until recently.  Social Media is a funny thing.  One of the things that makes any social website so intriguing is that (like any other technology tool), nobody really knows what's going to happen when it is handed over to the public.

Unlike Facebook, which has been popularized, prodded, commercialized and monetized, LinkedIn is unique.  Mainly controlled by it's users, LinkedIn doesn't suffer from the "molding effect" of its users like Facebook or Instagram.  LinkedIn has a certain "respect level," inspired by its users.  Sure, there are "abusers" and "crazy posts" that I sometimes wish weren't on my daily LinkedIn feed; however, most posts in my growing network of 1,100 connections, are useful, interesting business tid-bits.  I look forward to seeing the posts and have found LinkedIn to be the social business network tool that has not been replicated by any other type of Social Media.

I've seen many lists and best-practices to create a more compelling LinkedIn profile.  My company has actually hired a LinkedIn consultant to teach our entire sales-force how to get the most of LinkedIn.  I thought it only appropriate for me to throw in my own personal tips and hints on using this tool for salespeople.  Here we go:

  1. Does your Profile suck?  I've heard it a hundred times.  "I just put something up there and I don't really care if anyone is trying to hire me or not."  That's the #1 problem with LinkedIn.  90% of it's use is NOT for hiring, recruiting, or finding a job.  It's really about networking and making connections.  Think about it - if you could post a few paragraphs about what you did at each of your previous jobs, and one of those words helped somebody to find you (or visa-versa), wouldn't that be important?  Not completing your LinkedIn profile with strategic practices in mind is the biggest problem I've seen.  This is your chance to expand your network.  Isn't network leads the #1 way to find customers (right behind references)?
  2. Nobody Ever Responds to Your Posts!  Really?  You're kidding me?  You mean, people aren't sitting there, waiting for you to post something?  This concept is all about reciprocity.  All of the experts in Social Media will tell you that the #1 way of driving traffic, making connections and having online interaction, is YOU!  Want people to respond to your posts?  You need to respond to 20 other posts - and not just a "like" or an "awesome-good point" comment.  Contribute something valuable and people will take notice.  Social Media is an "iterative" process.  One thing depends on the next, and it takes time to create something meaningful.  Here's a tip:  Spend 30 min a day on LinkedIn.  Get 5 new connections.  Post-back to 20 items on your feed.  In a month, things will be different.
  3. Still using the "free" version of LinkedIn?  Are you that short-sighted?  Nothing is free.  Quality output takes two things:  time and money.  LinkedIn is very dependent on the way you are connected to other people.  By paying for a premium subscription, you significantly increase your network connections.  Today, LinkedIn has a special subscription for salespeople.  It is the best investment you will make.  Who cares if your company won't let you expense it.  Do this for your career.  Make an investment.
  4. Every Little Item Helps.  See the area where you can put your certifications?  How about the area where you can post media, pictures, presentations, etc.?  Don't think this matters?  How about a recent study that showed a 72% increase in time spent on a LinkedIn profile because of these little things.  Get it together and invest in these "add-ons" that really add-up!
  5. LinkedIn alone is not enough!  Unfortunately, if you want to create an online presence (and you should want to if you are a salesperson), Linked-In is not enough.  Here's the test:  Google your name (if you have a common name, Google your name, plus something unique about you).  If you don't show up on all ten of the first sites, you're not doing enough to create an online presence.  Here's some ideas:  register your own domain name, create your own web site, create a blog (and post to it often), subscribe to other people's blogs and read/respond to them, and pay attention to what's happening online.  Your customers are Googling you.  You should be Googling your customers.
How's your online presence?  How many connections do you have on LinkedIn?  What does Google say about you if a customer went to look?  Want to be a better salesperson - ask yourself these questions - then do something about it.

Happy Selling!