Written by Jennifer Dunphy Tuesday, May 01 2012
In the day of social networking, the old adage of the “six degrees of separation” just got a whole lot smaller. Now it is closer to two, possibly three degrees of separation. Social networks give us the ability to tap human knowledge like never before. They also give us the uncanny ability to create and manage our online presence. In the digital social economy, the world is open to us. We have global access at the tips of our fingers. With this there are countless benefits, but you should still post with caution.
With over 150 million members in over 200 countries worldwide, LinkedIn has positioned itself as the top business social networking site that will not only help you to be proactive with your online reputation, but it will also allow you the opportunity to create lasting business relationships around the globe without ever leaving your office.
LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals, a place for you to display your resume to the world. LinkedIn allows you to leverage a highly connected world to share your message, both personal and professional. One thing to remember when interacting on LinkedIn is that it is meant to be a dialogue and not a sales pitch. You are there to connect with professionals with common interests and at the same time, further your career opportunities.
In 2011 alone, LinkedIn members performed nearly 4.2 billion professionally oriented searches on the site, yes that is billion with a “B."
So, how do you tap into this extensive network and make the most of it? There are countless ways to improve your profile that everyone talks about. The first thing is always making sure that it is 100 percent complete, including a detailed summary, links to your website and blog utilizing the appropriate anchor text, and adding additional skills that make you more marketable. Other ways to make your profile more desirable include joining groups that you and your prospective clients are interested in, customizing your LinkedIn page URL, and updating your status regularly. Make sure to invite your professional network to connect with you. These are all great tactics that you should absolutely do, but I also want to point out a few more components that you may want to consider.
Create Your Profile in Another Language
Over 60 percent of LinkedIn members are located outside of the U.S., and when online, most people will search in their native language even if they speak numerous languages. LinkedIn has 17 different languages available for you to create a profile in: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. If you speak another language, have clients that speak other languages or you do international business, you should create your profile in that language. This will allow you to open up more doors to your business and grow your personal and business connections around the globe.
Ask For Recommendations
LinkedIn offers you the ability to allow your happy clients to brag about you. You can choose how to display your recommendations, but the fact that LinkedIn recommendations cannot be faked, as they can on your own website, adds extraordinary credibility to both you as a professional and to the organization that you work for. Recommendations can make the difference between getting a new job or being passed over for another candidate, or for acquiring a new client or being passed over for another company. The next time you have a client that tells you how happy they are with you and your work, just ask them to put that in writing on LinkedIn. Not only are they helping you out, they are also giving themselves exposure to your entire network.
Create Your Company Profile
Just as you have created a complete and thorough personal profile, you will want to ensure that you have created and completed your company profile and shared it with your network. More than 2 million companies have LinkedIn company pages. LinkedIn represents a valuable demographic for marketers. With an average household income of nearly $110,000, their members are affluent and influential professionals.
Every day millions of professionals search LinkedIn for companies, whether they are looking for a potential employer, a company to hire to do work for them or they are seeking to validate that a business appears to be reputable. The bottom line is they are seeking information, and you want to ensure that your company is able to help them find the answers that they are looking for. Ask for recommendations here as well. This is a great place to let your happy clients be your biggest advocates and do your marketing for you. You can also create targeted ads that are directed to your company page, connect your company profile to you company Twitter account, and add a “follow” button to your website to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with your brand.
LinkedIn applications enable you to have a more comprehensive profile, share and collaborate with your connections, and get valuable insights that can help you to make better business decisions. Furthermore, when you update the information on any of your applications, your activity is visible in your connections network updates, thus enhancing your personal brand and visibility. This is also an excellent way to highlight work that you do for your clients and to build good will. Choose the applications that will help your productivity and download them to your LinkedIn profile page.
Create a Group
Don’t just join a group, create your own. LinkedIn has over one million diversified groups, and it is simple for you to create your own and moderate the conversation. Expand your reach to other like-minded professionals that are the movers and shakers in their industries. Share your knowledge and show people why they need to know you, all while building your credibility as a business professional and gaining a wealth of insights into your group’s members. Every member in your group can opt to receive discussion updates at their preferred intervals, further enhancing your group’s visibility and getting more members engaged in the conversation. Remember that the entire objective here is to create a conversation with your community.
Try LinkedIn Answers
LinkedIn Answers is one of the best places on the web to share business knowledge: You are able to ask your question and get dozens of quick, accurate answers from your network and other experts worldwide. You even have the ability to become an “expert” yourself, which will only add value to your profile and enhance your personal credibility. LinkedIn Answers enables you to showcase your knowledge, expertise, and interests by answering questions that your network wants to know. This is another great opportunity to gain new business as well. Many times, I have seen questions posted requesting recommendations for reliable service providers, yet no service provider raises their hand. This is inbound marketing at its finest. LinkedIn Answers also allows you to stay up to speed on the latest in your industry and niche by staying current on what others in your industry are talking about.
Everything you say and do online can have an impact on your reputation. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. This can affect how you are perceived as an individual and as a professional. Whether you like it or not, the Internet has a far greater reach than small-town gossip. LinkedIn is an invaluable tool to help you to be proactive with your online reputation; furthermore, your LinkedIn profile is highly likely to be the first thing that shows up when someone Googles your name. Take the proactive steps to create your own online presence; don’t let someone else create it for you.
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Jennifer Dunphy, an accomplished sales and marketing executive, is currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Atlanta SEO Company , Vayu Media. You can connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.