LinkedIn is the go-to place to network with other business professionals, discover new career paths, engaged one another in serious debate, and promote your work.
There are plenty of these “massive/ultimate” guides to Networking with LinkedIn but for your every-day small business owner they rarely have the time, energy, and resources to use the platform each day (as some of the guides often suggest).
Let’s keep things simple… a real no-brainer.
The profile should be treated like your resume in the sense it needs to be professional (since you will be networking with other professionals).
The platform has many neat features that you normally wouldn’t find with resumes which work in your favor since it’s very flexible and is easy to read and engage.
- Picture – Go with your best. Dig through headshots you may have on your site or on social profiles and use the one that makes you look good. If you want to go one beyond you could hire a professional to take headshots which will truly stand out.
- The Basics – As per every type of social account (and what you already know about building resumes) – start filling in all the important information such as your education, previous work experience, websites you may own, location, and the like. Use the summary area as your elevator pitch to give people an understanding of who you are, what you represent, and how you can deliver them value.
- Skills, Interests, and Group – Here you can share what skills you possess (where others can endorse), interests of yours (which helps you connect to the social side), and groups you have found and joined.
- Profile URL – Try to grab up a profile URL as soon as you get in. It can be anything your best bet is to simply use your first and last name.
- Background Photo – Add some flair to your profile with an image that represents you as a personal brand.
Get to Networking
There are tons of things you can do with LinkedIn that go toward building your brand, driving leads, marketing your business, networking, and all that Jazz (which is worth the read if you go through that link) but let’s just keep things simple for the time being:
- Start off by including your LinkedIn information on any other platform or service you happen to use for business (such as in your email).
- Use the tools to automatically sync contact lists to build the initial connections; if you can’t find people through the sync then you’re always welcome to use the search features.
- Monitor who visits your profile and see how the two of you connect; you may be in the same industry, a competitor, or a friend of a friend (all of which can open up networking opportunities).
- Get out there and begin endorsing others’ skills from within your network; generally your actions will be reciprocated and so everyone wins as their skills show higher endorsements.
- Start using your profile like a blog (without going too overboard. Keep others updated on business events, new strategies you’d like to share, some fun items, and note-able interactions you’ve experienced with others.
- Go join a few groups that look promising. I’d recommend a nice range that aren’t only in your industry so that you can branch out, learn strategies from a different viewpoint, and generally have a good time building a larger network. Better yet, start a group of your own and you can be the curator of discussions.
- Give way to the online aspect of LinkedIn and consider attending a meetup or hold a Skype call with someone rather than passing notes back and forth through text. Get into their personal space and better bonds will grow.
Seems all very basic but I did say I wanted this to be a no-brainer in terms of networking. LinkedIn has many powerful features that help you connect; it’ll take time to learn them all but for the meantime be sure to setup the account, make it look presentable, start sharing content, and make those connections.
Image by tiffanytlcbm