May 15th, 2012 will mark my five-year anniversary on the social media site LinkedIn, which is the professional social networking medium that allows you to connect with friends, co-workers, and other professionals that at one time would have been impossible, Yes- I am talking about those days before we had computers. Nonetheless and since there are still many people out there that do not have a LinkedIn profile, I thought I would create a post on our Seven Times Seven blog to relay some of the do’s and do not’s of this giant social media platform. Here are the TOP 5 rules of the road!
(1) LinkedIn is Your Online Resume… so treat it as such –– Whether you use LinkedIn for business or pleasure, make sure to update your profile with regularity just like you would your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest accounts, as this is the first place most people head to in order to check out your credentials. The difference between LinkedIn and other social media sites is that this site is a true representation yourself, views, and of some of the important things you have accomplished, so treat it as such, or just like you would your resume… DO NOT misrepresent yourself or your company!
(2) Join Interesting (Business or Personal) Groups –– It amazes me how few people know about LinkedIn groups, as they have been around for as long as I can remember. In order to network with other same minded individuals, make sure you join some local, regional, and global groups in order to connect, share, and converse with others about important things happening in yours or another industry. Most importantly with any group or these groups in particular is to participate! Whatever you do… DO NOT join groups just to join groups, join groups to show others you are willing to help them, not just looking for handouts.
(3) Follow Interesting Organizations –– Just like the group format, make sure you are following and interacting with companies. Almost every organization out there has created a company profile on LinkedIn, so make sure you find the ones that you can help, connect with others that work there (you can connect with people through group affiliations), and remember to be found, you have to make yourself found, which following companies will do for you! Just like with the groups, DO NOT just follow companies to follow companies instead follow those you are truly interested in!
(4) Personalize & Tailor your Message(s) –– It often surprises me at how simple this is but how many people fail at this. Instead of reaching out and connecting to others with the generic LinkedIn message to those that belong to the same groups, work at old or like companies, and/or have some of the same interests as you; instead, make sure that you tailor your message to them and give a brief reason for connecting… DO NOT just connect with people and companies to connect with them… do you see a pattern here?
(5) Inform, Revise, and Update –– The most important part of LinkedIn is to inform people of what you think is important. Whether you use this site for business or personal reasons make sure to inform your contacts of important industry trends, news, or things happening in your career or life. Revise these accordingly to those you are trying to reach and most importantly, make sure to update your profile (articles, books, presentation you given, etc) that way more people will want to connect with you and listen to things you are talking about. Whatever you do, DO NOT just set-up your profile and leave it idle, as this like most other social media sites is a social site, hence why you need to interact with others, not just set it and forget it.
Obviously, these five rules of the LinkedIn road are just a few things that you should consider if you have not already and are serious about sharing, connecting, and being a person others turn to for honest advice. Just like with other social media sites, LinkedIn is a vehicle that allows you to connect with people and companies, while engaging them, heck it evens allows you to collect pertinent real-world research (i.e. surveys), as I am doing on the behalf of my Doctoral work. We (I) don’t use LinkedIn for prospecting but many people and companies do, so if you chose to prospect here, just make sure to respect others time, as you would in person or any other site… leave the junk mail at home, as nobody likes to be pestered! Lastly, if you have other accounts connected to your LinkedIn profile, make sure that the information you are relying is information suited for your audience, as this will go a long way in other views of you. I think if you take a little time to understand how this medium works that it can do wonders for you and others you will meet here, as it has for me. I warmly welcome all LinkedIn requests, so if you are alike minded individual and would like to talk or interact, drop me a line and let’s connect. Otherwise, I hope this post helps you achieve some of your personal and business goals. Now get out there and connect, engage, and enjoy your time with others. Until next week, play nice and don’t forget to keep smiling, as it really does look good on YOU!
David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.