Magazine article Success

LinkedIn Lesson: Six Steps Get You in Business on This Powerful Online Network

Magazine article Success

LinkedIn Lesson: Six Steps Get You in Business on This Powerful Online Network

Article excerpt

* WITH SO many social media platforms to choose from, why do businesspeople flock to LinkedIn? Because unlike Facebook, whose users share a steady stream of personal updates, LinkedIn subscribers sign on to get down to business. That includes networking, marketing, recruiting employees, researching companies, receiving industry news, and learning about career and client opportunities.

LinkedIn continually improves its format, adding features that let users interact in a targeted way, including customized industry groups and advanced searching. You can also see who has kicked your tires, how many searches you've turned up in, and when your contacts update their profiles or connect with other people, even if those folks are outside your network.

Maybe that's why the company's stock was trading around $165 a share in June, more than triple its initial public offering price in May 2011. So investors recognize the network's value, too. Use the plan below to grow professionally and fortify your brand with LinkedIn.

Six Weeks to LinkedIn Results

Wayne Breitbarth, a LinkedIn expert who helps companies improve their prowess on the social media platform, has laid out a six-week program to bulk up your presence on the network. The two-hour-a-week plan, adapted here from his recent book, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand and Job Search (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013), trumpets your expertise and that of your company. Breitbarth's plan relies on LinkedIn's free service, which he says is powerful enough for most users.

Start by setting specific objectives for your LinkedIn activities and stick to them. "What are you trying to accomplish? Are you looking for customers? Vendors? Just trying to put your brand out there in a positive way? Once you know your goals, then you can jump into these steps," says Breitbarth, a former small-business owner.

Every Week

For each of the next six weeks, you'll:

* Accept invitations that meet your criteria.

* Invite 20 or more trusted professionals into your network.

Week 1

* Put your most recent jobs into the Experience section of your profile. Import a resume if you have one.

* Complete the Education section of your profile.

* Add a high-quality photo that reflects your professionalism (a party snapshot is not cool).

Take care in describing your skills and expertise. "You get one chance for a first impression," Breitbarth says.

Week 2

* Complete the Experience section, which may help you reconnect with colleagues from your past Referrals will be valuable to you and to them.

* Put a link to your company website on your profile and give it a description other than the standard My Company, perhaps elaborating about its wide range of services, exclusive brands carried, awards/recognitions and years in business.

* Write a killer 120-word marketing headline that includes important keywords such as the primary services and skills and the key attributes (on time and under budget) you offer.

* Join five groups: industry groups, alumni associations, chambers or regional networking groups.

Your Week 2 activities begin your marketing push. By joining LinkedIn's groups, you meet people with similar interests. And as you finish the Experience section of your profile, consider that the keywords in your marketing headline should be specific to your business: brands/products sold, industry skills/services (engineering, chiropractic, spa treatments, etc.). Use an engaging narrative for your company description--repeating your crucial keywords--to make your experience come alive and demonstrate important achievements. "If you have the right keywords, people will find you," Breitbarth says. "And if they find you, the stories [narratives about your company and what you do] will help you stand out. …

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