If you’re wanting to embrace the Virtual Business Lifestyle then you are a busy, probably over-worked business owner that is consistently looking for new business opportunities and clients, or even possible partners. Although this blog revolves around building that lifestyle, I recently read an article on how entrepreneurs are using the social networking medium more than ever to gain market share, build reputation and amass a strong following online, and wanted to glance upon this genre of promotion / reputation building. Especially in regards to one particular avenue – LinkedIn.
It seems that nowadays, professionals are jumping onto the social networking bandwagon like never before, and right at the top of the list is LinkedIn – “Facebook for People with Jobs” as it is sometimes humorously referred to. If you are a business owner and not already enjoying the networking opportunities provided by LinkedIn, wake up – you can boost your success further as an entrepreneur, be it online or offline, by expanding your network, your market share and your revenue, by utilizing the site to put your business on a whole new global scale.
Let me make it real simple. Last year, I brought on board business worth approximately $43,000 in gross income – without even trying……. Just by being listed on LinkedIn.
This year I am spending more time hanging around on the site…!!!
As a LinkedIn user myself for many years (you can connect with me by clicking here), and as I recently created a group for this blog on the site, I wanted to post a few tips that I have found useful over the last few years in using the site myself that have worked out well in connecting me with good quality business people all around the world. Not only this, but this one website alone has brought on board more clients to my business than any other – FACT! (Well, other than our own corporate site, obviously!).
Simply follow these quick five guidelines that I pretty much live by, when it comes to LinkedIn, and you’ll be reaping the rewards of additional business networking almost immediately.
Think Quantity, Always!
Networking is basically about numbers. The more contacts you have the better, so invite everyone you meet to your network. You meet new people every day. The acquaintances that you get in contact with at conferences, business meetings and even those you communicate with by telephone or e-mail are sources for your growing network. Any one of your contacts may know someone with whom you can close a deal. That’s one wonderful thing about networking. When you create your LinkedIn account, you’ll have the option of importing email contacts to start building your network immediately – do it.
Think Quality, Always, too!
Add quality contacts. You should also invest some amount of time in having credible contacts, those whom you can benefit from. Use the advanced search tool at LinkedIn to check out your other business contacts to see who is already hook up on LinkedIn, then send an invitation to those you want to network with.
Get involved with Groups!
Make your online presence felt by joining different LinkedIn Groups. Expand your network further by joining LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry, or areas of interest. Groups serve as a platform for like-minded professionals to “meet” and engage in discussions. Joining groups that are relevant to your industry, or areas of interests will help you expand your network. You have to actively participate in such groups, don’t be a side-liner – get involved and get create with conversations, posting links, etc. You should also check out conference groups and alumni networks and you’ll be surprised to see familiar names that you have no doubt forgotten for your past.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn Answers!
Take advantage of the LinkedIn feature called LinkedIn Answers. Use this tool to seek answers that will complement your business as well as send responses to establish yourself as a key player in the industry, a thought leader of such. You will be attracting the people you are interacting with in this question-and-answer forum to your network, which is the whole point of this thing, right!?
Beef up your Profile!
This is probably the most important part of your LinkedIn experience. Your profile serves as your main asset and there are a lot of ways you can sell yourself and your business by promoting your profile. Fill your profile with as many keywords as possible and link to it in other places, such as your personal websites or blog – like I have done. You should also mention your profile in other social media spots, too, to increase your search-ability. Another way for your name to come up, and for people to find your LinkedIn profile, at Google or other search engines is to customize the URL for your profile, so that it will rank higher in Google. Be sure to spend time on your profile, it will make a big difference to your overall experience using LinkedIn.
All in all, social media and networking is becoming more and more popular. Bottom line is that if you’re not involved in it in some way, at least, you can bet your bottom dollar that your competitors are, for sure!
Nowadays, I don’t manage my LinkedIn account as much as I used to. In fact, my assistant does almost everything for me, bringing me up to speed with group info and connection requests, etc. I probably only spend around an hour a month on the site personally, but that doesn’t stop me from gaining some great business contacts and enjoying getting involved in conversations.