How You Can Maximize LinkedIn Effectiveness For Small Business

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There is a lot of interest in social networking these days, and since I do a lot of traditional, offline networking, I’ve been excited about the possibilities of sites such as LinkedIn. The possibilities of networking unbound by geography and time are pretty exciting. Increasingly, though, I’m being approached by people who want to know how they they should network online.
Here are 5 ways to maximize the effectiveness of LinkedIn for independent business people (and everyone else)
1. It’s an online resume – LinkedIn allows every professional to have their resume and personal information on the internet, even if they don’t have their own website. By fully fleshing out your profile, you have an online bio page that you can distribute to potential clients, partners, etc. Take advantage of the ability to customize your profile page URL (you can make it your name or your company name). Down the line I don’t think we will use separate resumes, we’ll just send links to our social networking profiles.
2. Spread your smile with a picture – You have the ability to put your picture in your profile – use it. This is especially important for individuals that work extensively through email and the telephone. Humans are visual creatures and when we can see a face, it creates a strong identity in our minds. Take the time to put a good picture on your profile. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, professionally-done headshot, but it should be a quality photograph of you – try to stay away from low resolution pictures. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a Brad Pitt or Heidi Klum, people love when they can put a face to the voice on the other side of the phone conversation.
3. What are you working on? – Akin to what you find on true social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, this LinkedIn feature allows you to alert your entire network to a snippet of information. Unlike Myspace or Facebook, where you are usually just telling your friends what kind of mood you’re in, you can use LinkedIn to tell your network about important things going on in your business.
4. Ask questions to your network – The Answers section on LinkedIn is purported to be a great way to show your expertise in a given area by answering other people’s questions. Maybe it is, but I’ve found it’s too often filled with people giving advice in an attempt to advertise for themselves. I think an even better way to spread your name is to ask questions. This is a great forum to ask those questions about how to grow your business. Don’t ask questions as a veiled attempt to advertise, but do ask questions that demonstrate your areas of concentration. Sometimes, the best way to show your knowledge is to show your willingness to learn.
5. Connect with anyone you “kind of” know – I wouldn’t put a complete stranger in my network on LinkedIn, but I would put someone I’ve met only once at a offline networking event. Social networking sites like LinkedIn are powerful because they allow your network to have a much more expansive reach than traditional networking activities. The more nodes in the network the more powerful it becomes. In traditional networking, there is often a feeling that you can only introduce people you know really well because your reputation is on the line. With online network, this isn’t the case, so don’t fall into the trap of feeling you can only have individuals that you know really well in your online network. Bigger, in this case, is better.

How You Can Use LinkedIn to Get Success in Your Business and Professional Career? Why You Should Use It? Watch this Free Presentation at: http://www.linkedinsuccess.org

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