It's not difficult to see why LinkedIn could be the most important social media site for any business or self-employed professional.
For one thing, it has more than 100 million active members, and is focused on business relationships and not personal interactions. And for another thing, LinkedIn profiles tie in to Twitter, Google, and other popular Internet marketing targets. So, the better you're doing on LinkedIn, the easier it is to find new customers and contacts everywhere else on the Internet.
There is a big difference between seeing opportunities, however, and taking advantage of them. It doesn't take long to figure out that networking through LinkedIn is a bit like networking in the real world: You have to do more than simply show up if you want to make an impression on the decision-makers in any crowd.
With that in mind, we would like to share our top tips for using what could be the most important social media site for businesses. Here is how you can get the most from LinkedIn in seven easy steps:
1. Don't use a profile that's "off-the-shelf."
There are enough nameless, faceless companies and professionals in the world without adding more. Use your profile to show off your best qualities and separate yourself from the competition, starting with top-notch photos, links, and copywriting.
2. Use search keywords in your LinkedIn profile.
Although we advise our clients to always think past keywords and emphasize selling points, there is no doubt that LinkedIn profiles tend to show up prominently in search results. So, make sure yours contains at least a few of your most important search marketing keywords.
3. Get to know your LinkedIn plug-ins.
Like WordPress, LinkedIn has lots of different apps and plug-ins that you can use to enhance your profile. Some are free, while others are low-cost, but there are probably half a dozen you can use to reach more people and sell yourself or your company more effectively.
4. Join relevant groups and discussions.
Although a lot of marketers stop after uploading a profile, that's just the beginning. Join groups (like Kayak's Online Marketing Group for Marketers) and discussions to get your name in front of interested parties. It's also a great way to find out what your customers and colleagues are thinking about.
5. Get others to endorse and recommend you.
This is an old rule of marketing, but also a rock-solid piece of advice: Never brag about yourself when you could have others do it for you. Having a lot of endorsements and recommendations makes it easy for others to feel comfortable working with you, even if they haven't done so in the past.
6. Approach VIP contacts the right way.
You might be tempted to simply send messages to every vice president, business owner, and other important decision-maker on your target list. Instead, spend the time building intermediate contacts step by step (like their subordinates, or mutual acquaintances). That will make it easier for you to engage them later without being ignored.
7. Watch your network grow over time.
Most LinkedIn marketing campaigns don't show results overnight, but can be incredibly effective if you put in a consistent effort. As the weeks go by, you can be sure that your enhanced profile will be noticed by the right kinds of people, and your contact list will grow to the point that you'll inevitably start to meet important buyers in your industry.
By using LinkedIn intelligently, you can expand your social media marketing reach to important men and women who would've been nearly impossible to meet otherwise. So, take the seven steps and use them to open new doors for your business and career!