“Everyone serious about their career should have a LinkedIn account.” – PC Magazine
The world of social networking has been upon us for a while now, with Facebook and Twitter leading the pack. While these two sites can justifiably boast some professional and thoughtful participation, let’s face it. Most of what appears on Facebook seems to work best for promoting soccer-mom activity, posting unschooled and off-the-cuff reactions to national and local news, and the offering up of recipes with the half-baked word “mmmm” appended to them.
As for Twitter, the next contender, God bless you if you can become a thought leader in 140 characters or less per hit! That said, both Facebook and Twitter are fast gathering momentum for serious players with serious content to post. It comes down to this though: the content sites are being perfected faster than the worthiness of the content. Believe it or not, this same mass lack of communicative finesse in a brand-spanking new medium was observed as early as 1854, when Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”
The social networking site that stands out far and above all contenders for meaningful content is LinkedIn. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn can now boast almost 300 million users, 29% of whom reside in the United States. It was developed strictly for business people looking to promote their products or services. LinkedIn is a no-nonsense site, with strict sanctions in place for those who dare to indulge in spam or violation of privacy. It offers an ingenious way to build a professional network.
In fact, even in our Internet age, it’s conceivable you could start a business with just a LinkedIn account and absolutely no website — although I wouldn’t recommend doing so. For those who are retired or about to retire, LinkedIn offers the fastest and most effective way to reach your prospective clientele. Here are four tips to help get you started on LinkedIn, or to help you retool if you’ve gotten off to a sluggish or unpromising start.
Be Extremely Picky and Selective in Developing Your LinkedIn Connections
Are you familiar with that old business bromide about throwing out a wide net, because you never know who knows whom? Sorry, but that’s no way to run your LinkedIn site. Just because your brother-in-law happens to be one of your favorite people is a poor reason to make him one of your LinkedIn connections — you’re starting a defense-contractor consulting business, and he’s in the dog grooming industry. Your LinkedIn connections should almost exclusively represent those who are current or prospective clients. So find a polite way to say no to a connection request from your brother-in-law or the tailor who did such a fantastic job hemming your skirt unless, of course, they stand to give you substantial business in the next 90 days.
Put Together a Killer LinkedIn Profile
This is no time for slam, bam, thank you ma’am, or sleep-inducing résumé prose. Your profile is your first great opportunity to shine, and to highlight your accomplishments and the value your business offers. If you think you absolutely can’t write an engaging profile, hire a professional to write one for you.
Work Hard at Developing LinkedIn Connections
Spend the time to learn how to do an advanced search on LinkedIn for tracking down your ideal clients. Also, join LinkedIn groups in which they participate, read (listen to) what they have to say, and make thoughtful comments when (and only when) the occasion is right for your comment. If you’re serious about building your business, do a little of this every day.
Invest in Books to Help You Get Up to Speed on LinkedIn
LinkedIn For Dummies and Sams Teach Yourself LinkedIn in Ten Minutes will prove helpful for the LinkedIn novice. The LinkedIn Code by Melonie Dodaro will help you enormously in constructing your profile. Dodaro provides very useful work sheets and exercises to help you get started, and then to move on to an advanced level.
Whatever your business aspirations and ambitions, LinkedIn remains the most effective social networking site to-date to get you where you need to go.