LinkedIn: It’s Not Just For Finding A Job
When the Great Recession hit the U.S. (and the rest of the world), people everywhere started losing their jobs and turned to every available tool to find work. From the classifieds to job fairs to attending local networking events, people started turning to a tool that was never available in the past: LinkedIn. The media pushed stories of how LinkedIn was the new wonder tool that would solve the high unemployment problem that plagued the U.S. during the Great Recession (and still does to this day). Just go to LinkedIn, setup an a profile, and watch the job offers come flooding in! However, it wasn’t that simple since LinkedIn is not a single faceted tool. It’s multi-faceted with so much to offer business professionals other than just recruiters swarming your Inbox with offers to be a C-level executive making a 6 figure income and, oh yeah, don’t forget having a very attractive assistant!
So other than just using LinkedIn to set up a profile and receive job offers, what else can you do with it? In order to understand what opportunities LinkedIn has available, you need to first understand what features are available to members of LinkedIn. Here’s a list of some of the most prominent ones:
- Profile – The most basic but probably most important feature of LinkedIn. This is your online resume for anyone not familiar with you to view to learn who you are as a business professional. This tells people what benefits you have to offer to them should they want to connect to you (more about this later). The profile needs to be filled out as much as possible and needs a current picture of you. This helps tell a complete story about yourself and, with a picture, adds a human side to the profile.
- Connections – Just like Facebook lets you “friend” people, you can do the same by inviting people to connect to you on LinkedIn. When inviting people to connect, LinkedIn 0ffers a template message you can use. You should NOT use this. The message you use to connect to people should be personable and offer some type of value to the person you want to connect to. You should NOT use this as an opportunity to do a sales pitch. In the offline world, people are immediately turned off by individuals who upon meeting them for the first time do a sales pitch. Since you don’t like it, don’t do it in the digital world.
- Groups – This is perhaps the most powerful feature LinkedIn has to offer. Think of a LinkedIn Group as a “virtual trade show”. Everything you can do at your industry’s trade show, you can accomplish in a LinkedIn Group. Increasing your company’s visibility, more exposure for your products/services, scout for leads, check out what your competitors are doing, and positioning your company as a thought leader are all goals you can accomplish in a LinkedIn Group.
- Answers – Heard of Yahoo Answers? Then you already know how LinkedIn Answers works. Ask a question, have people answer it. Or you can answer a question other business professionals have asked. However, the main benefit to answering a question is you will be positioned as a thought leader. Every time you answer a question, it streams across the home page of your connections. Answer enough and you become an expert especially in the eyes of your target market.
- Ads – With over 100,000.000 members, LinkedIn presents a huge opportunity to target the decision makers in your target market with ads. Before you throw some ads together, you need to line up 3 items you will need in your ad. The first is selecting a good image. The image is the most important piece of the ad since it’s what attracts the eyes of your target audience. Second, you need to identify what the immediate benefit is for someone to even click on the ad. We live in a society in which we demand and expect immediate gratification. Give them something they can benefit from right away (free ebook, free consultation, etc.). Third, you need a strong call to action. Tell people what you want them to do. Usually a “Click here” statement is strong enough so people know what to do.
With the above tools, you can identify what opportunities LinkedIn has to offer beyond just using it to find a job.