- write down the key things you would like to achieve as a result of being on LinkedIn – For example, do you want to position yourself as a specialist in a particular area? do you want to build your profile among CEOs in the telecommunications sector? do you want to keep on top of issues in your area of expertise? do you want to generate more work?
- write down who you want to engage with, how you’re going to engage with them, and how often you’re going to engage with them.
- write down how you will measure your efforts – for example, number of click throughs to links you share or number and quality of responses to discussions you start. My friend Natalie Sisson, the Suitcase Entrepreneur, has developed a fantastic spreadsheet to measure the ROI of her social media activities. It’s really helped me and hopefully it will you too.
2. Ensure your profile is compelling and complete (see our earlier blog post for some tips on this).
3. Join groups that your target audience(s) belong to. Contribute to relevant discussions where you have a view and can demonstrate your expertise, and answer questions. Be yourself – and be curious. When you feel comfortable start initiating discussions with your target audience(s) – some people are great at this – learn from them. Look at past discussions within the groups you belong to and see which sorts of questions generated the best discussions.
4. Share relevant, timely content with your target audience(s). If you can share content that others will want to comment on then that’s even better because LinkedIn is all about engaging with others. Types of content you might want to share include white papers, articles you’ve written, tips and how to’s, podcasts, seminars you’ve presented …the list is endless. Also forward content generated by others (both within your firm and externally) that you have found interesting to people in your network who might also benefit from it.
5. Use your status box (‘share an update’) to engage with those in your direct network. Ask questions, share links to useful information etc. The new ‘search updates’ function that LinkedIn launched last week provides a real opportunity for people outside your network, interested in a particular subject to view your network updates. However, in order for them to find your updates, you need to ensure each one contains the keywords your target audience(s) is likely to search for. For example, if you have something to share about developing a social media policy ensure your update contains these words.
6. Use LinkedIn to help you plan – at a firm, practice group, sector, client and individual level – it’s great for identifying who you know within an organisation (and who you don’t know but need to), as well as keeping on top of what’s happening within a company.
Whatever you do on LinkedIn, try to integrate it with your other social media activities (for example on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc), your website and your traditional marketing activities.
So, is leveraging LinkedIn important to you? How do you measure your results? What other advice would you give to professionals wanting to engage and grow their networks on LinkedIn?