Since about December 2012, articles about LinkedIn, the social networking site for business professionals, have been landing in my inbox on an almost weekly basis. They have covered the site’s many changes and the ways in which it can help someone promote a company, products, services or even one’s own expertise. In other words, LinkedIn can become a part of your public relations/communications toolkit.
I’ve compiled a few of the suggestions into a quick list of features and tools that can help you make the most of a LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn allows you to include links to external sites and resources in your contact information. You can include multiple links to your website, your Twitter feed, etc. Social Media Examiner suggests that you opt to use custom text to describe your links rather than settling for LinkedIn’s default labels such as Company, Blog, Website, etc.
LinkedIn also has a Professional Gallery that allows you to include links to videos, images and documents. Those links can be placed in the Summary, Experience and Education sections of your profile.
You should also consider including your LinkedIn address on your website, blog, email signature and any other place where you include contact information.
2. Calls to Action
Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart suggests incorporating calls to action in status updates, groups, etc. The calls to action should be as short and simple, e.g.,“Learn from our free articles,” which would be great for a link to an online archive. She also cautions that you shouldn’t be“sales-y” but rather extend a helping hand.
3. Company Page
LinkedIn has followed in the footsteps of Facebook by creating Company Pages, place for companies to showcase their products and services as well as provide information about job opportunities and company culture. Other LinkedIn members can follow your Company Page to get updates. For advice on setting up a Company Page, check out this Forbes article.
4. LinkedIn Groups
One tried and true networking tool is the groups. Experts say that you can join up to 50 different groups but recommend joining only three to five. (You can also choose to start your own group). In addition to groups that consist of industry colleagues, consider joining those that contain customers or potential customers.
Once you join the groups, don’t post ads or sales pitches. Instead focus on answering questions and sharing content, both your own and information created by others. Comment on and share other people’s articles in your status updates. If you have a company update, a blog post, or an article that you’d like to share with several groups at once, either post it as your status and click “Share” or do the same from your company page. Also, when sharing to multiple groups, tailor the title and details to fit the interests of each particular group.
5. Sharing Bookmarklet
This LinkedIn feature is a button that can be installed on your browser toolbar and enables you to share online content in a group discussion, status update or in a message to someone to whom you’re connected. This way, you can initiate conversations that spark interest in you and strengthen your credibility or allow you to keep in touch with specific connections.
These are only a few of the things you can now do with LinkedIn, and an upgraded account will give you even more options. If you’re thinking that it seems like a daunting amount to learn, you’re not alone. I must confess that after years of neglect, I finally updated my profile in February.
Now I’m striving to get into the habit of updating it regularly and then I’ll tackle the other items on this list one at a time. You can use this tactic or whatever approach best suits your personality. What’s important is that you find a way to make the most of the opportunities that LinkedIn offers.