LinkedIN is likely to be known by ever reader that sees this post, however, (like anything, not just LinkedIN), everybody has a different level of experience, exposure and understanding which is what forms our opinion or perception.
Fair enough, but if “perception is reality”, or, “Perception is 9/10ths of the law”, then you’d probably want a well rounded one. After all, it could help or hinder your success in business, right?
So lets begin with the bad, so we can end on a good note. The bad is simply Risk & Reputation. Risk is something negative is mentioned publically on LinkedIN, and it may potentially damage your reputation. Interestingly that was an issue long before Social Media, however, “stuff online can go viral, really quick”, so there is a greater risk that it gets out of hand faster than the human to human rumour mill. The answer is, you can put a pretty quick stop to it, or leverage and turn the bad news or review to your advantage. Just be careful you don’t throw petrol on a fire, sometimes prefessional PR advice is warranted, most times common sense works.
Ok, so that didn’t cause any heart palpatations, grey hairs, or like me; loss of hair? Great, lets crack on. You might have noted in the above that I made a few comparisons to real life, and that’s right. What you would do in person is exactly what you can and should do online, its just a different medium and has the ability to scale quickly (there is that concept of virality again, and the benefit of a positive situation).
If you are old enough to have used a book of Yellow Pages, think of LinkedIN as the new Yellow Pages, accept it’s not just the companies ad you can see, it’s all of their employees and what they; do, say, groups they participate in and more. You can see and understand the people you may choose to do business with, or not, and you can use it to attract business. Whether you are or not already, here are the basics that are worth covering if you own a business:
Set up a Personal Profile: Include a head and shoulder photo and show some teeth with a genuine smile and look into the lens - that way you ar smiling directly at your prospective customer - 1st impressions count online as well as in person. Make sure you’re dressed relative to your job; a suit if in a business service, a visi-vest if in construction, a tracksuit if you’re a rugby coach. There are quite a few elements, I wont go over all of them but I will suggest searching your role and looking at what other profiles do and copy the ideas of those you like.
Make Connections: LinkedIN was originally designed for user to invite those whom they “Know”, which implied you had earnt your connection through being a good person. These days that theory has evolved and people will just invite you to connect - because they want something, usually to sell you what they sell. However, harking back to real life, think about the scenario that you are at a real networking event and someone comes up and says “Wanna buy a watch?” as they fling open their trench coat with a range of watches hung inside… you’re probably going to bolt and get away from that person, or hawker as they used to called pre interweb and social networking. So to make it easy, start by inviting those you know, infact LinkedIN will invite your email address book for you to make it easy for you, and yes you can go through and untick the few out of all your email contacts you ‘don’t really want really want to be seen with in public’.
Set up a Company Page: Instead of your photo, it’s your company logo, and there are a range of things you can add in the owners editng page, however, get the basic profile choices of a description of what you do, web URL, phone number, type of busness, industry and some nice imagery that can even be from your website. This is not a replacement of your company website, but it does make you searchable within the LinkedIN platform (Digital Yelllow Pages). It also enables other people to follow your company so you can make updates through ‘Company-Page-Posts’ and your company followers will see it appear in their feed (A feed is the chain of posts/activity that runs down the page - not an eye fillet with mushroom sauce). If you are familiar with a company news letter - which is traditionally sent by email, this is the social-media-equivalent (And you do wnat these to go viral for the right reasons!)
Post and Comment on other Posts: Thinking back to real life, this is like having a conversation with someone, or a group of people. Just remember it is completely public. Yes you can delete any post or comment you make. There is an old saying, 'Behave today how you’d like to be remembered tomorrow", and when it comes to social media, “Behave today how you’d like to be remembered forever” - once it is out there, even for just a second, it can be copied by a screen shot. If you say something really bad, naughty or plain stupid - it can “Go Viral!”. So keep it professional, as this behaviour is what can attract you new business if you do it well, i.e. say really interesting and smart things that add value to your connections who will like, comment or share them for positive reasons.
Join relevant groups: If you build spaceships, you may like to join the NASA group, and so on and so forth. Some groups (settings dependent) allow you to invite group members to connect - but I do urge you to chat with them first, by commenting on their disucssions and build a little dialougue first - it goes both ways, you may find they are not your cup of tea based on the way they respond.
All the rest - there is loads more, but if you do the above basics and explore the platform by trial and error, there is lots to make use of - you could even find your old uni mates via your Unversity Page and Alumni…
I hope that is a good start for those just venturing into LinkedIN, and those who know this stuff, why don’t you share some of your experiences as additional lessons to help develop this chain.
Ryan the Lion