It’s easy to mistake social media for a semi-frivolous, Internet-based time waster and give it half an effort. After all, how can you be serious about your business and spend any part of your day tweeting?
So, if you can’t yet bring yourself to try and reap business benefits from Facebook or Twitter, try LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most popular business-oriented, social-media site on the web and offers a way to focus on business while making connections online. Unfortunately, it also requires a little more attention to detail than it does to tweet what you had for lunch.
Here are some tips for beginners …
More is More: It’s one thing to leave your likes and dislikes off your personal Facebook page. Nobody will fault you if you don’t divulge your preference for lighthearted, romantic comedies. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is more like an online resume. So treat it as such. Leaving important information off your profile – such as past work experience, a bio, a photo, or specialties – will not only make you look like you can’t finish a job but it’ll also be less likely to catch anyone’s attention. And it isn’t only job-seeking college students who benefit from the social-networking site. There’s more than 100 million members on LinkedIn. Which means, the more info you include, the more likely you’ll meet prospective clients or referral partners among that 100 million.
Import Your Contacts: Okay, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, LinkedIn offers a way to import all of your contacts from your email address book. But be careful. After all, you’re setting up a professional network. In other words, you may not need to connect with your mother, old friends from high school, or your cousin Larry. Save the personal connections for your personal pages. Keep focused and professional.
Get Active: So you’ve filled out your profile and imported any business contacts to your LinkedIn profile. The next step is getting active on the site. LinkedIn offers the ability to join as many industry-related groups and discussions as you wish. So do it. Search groups by category or keyword and focus on your region or industry. Once you’ve joined, ask a question or answer an existing query. If nothing else, you may learn something from someone. At best, you’ll make new contacts within your industry and region that could lead to business down the line.
Make Recommendations: On LinkedIn, recommendations bolster your credibility. After all, if you’ve got a lot of recommendations, you’re most likely trustworthy and not out to scam, spam, or swindle anyone. But how do you get them? Well, start by recommended people you’ve had positive business experiences with. Once you’ve made some recommendations, it’ll be a lot easier to get some in return.