Like all social media platforms, LinkedIn continues to evolve to allow more content and more sharing. Gone are the days of LinkedIn as job fair, simply putting resumes (some better done than others) in the hands of recruiters. Think about it this way: LinkedIn is now the social media equivalent of a networking event. A really BIG networking event. LinkedIn is a way for people who do business together, or might want to do business together, to get to know each other, share information, and gain insights through that sharing.
So, what should you bring to the party?
1. A smile. You never get a second chance to…you know. Start with a good photo. This applies to individuals and companies alike. Nothing blunts a viewer’s curiosity quicker than that blue silhouette. Make your URL a name, not a digit. Keep information on skills or services up-to-date. Make the text anchor links to your website more interesting. Add an app or a video – you get the idea.
2. Awareness. The LinkedIn Today news feed is more individually customized than ever, making the content it displays more relevant and interesting. Use it to stay on top of the latest so you’re ready with that timely, insightful post or apropos ice-breaker.
3. Your listening ears. The wisdom that the best conversation partners are good listeners is relevant here. There are around a million Groups on LinkedIn – something for everyone. Groups allow you to listen in (if you’re shy) or jump right into the conversation. You can even message people who aren’t first-degree connections. They’re a real-time learning tool to hone what you contribute to the conversation.
4. A voice. Speak up. When you have a feel for the mood, join in. Offer comments and updates that are timely, useful and interesting. Read a great blog article? Post it for others to appreciate. Did your company get a really cool new tool? Announce it. Just like any other conversation, participate enough to make your presence felt but don’t hog the floor.
5. A little courage. All of LinkedIn’s options for connecting, sharing and learning are only meaningful when participants are open to real, relevant interactions. The canned sales pitch is never as interesting as the hard-learned business lesson. So loosen up and embrace the unexpected insights and relationships that this most business-friendly of social media can provide.
Emily Van Hyning – Writer & Editor