By Greta Schulz
I think, by now, you’re using LinkedIn—at least I hope so. But how many of you are really using that social media platform to its potential?
You know I am a big believer in networking. Being able to meet someone, connect with them and introduce them to others is the key to building your own strong strategic alliances.
LinkedIn is the online version of what I have been talking about.
If you have opened a LinkedIn account and accepted invitations from people who would like to connect with you, great. You’re living in the current decade. But that’s it, if that’s all you’ve done. Here are seven useful tips for using LinkedIn for business.
1. Building your reputation. LinkedIn is a great tool for people to outline their experience, accomplishments, organizations and network. Too often, I see incomplete profiles. Get LinkedIn to work for you by completely filling out your profile. Include all your previous employers, the groups you belong to, your personal pitch, your websites and other important information. LinkedIn has become a place where employers find candidates, so if you are job hunting, this is an excellent platform.
2. Find qualified candidates. Ever struggle to find hirable employees? I get asked about five times a day if I know someone who would be a great hire. LinkedIn is great resource to find talent. We all know that finding someone who is currently working is most often the best candidate, but not easy to find. This is a great place to start.
Visit your profile page on LinkedIn. At the top is a search bar. Enter the category you are looking for. When I enter “sales,” there are job posts, but then there is a list of people who have that listed in their own profile. Want something more specific? Search, for instance, on “media sales” or “manufacturing representative” or something unique. If you see someone you think might be a good fit for your organization, invite him or her to connect. Then ask if they would be interested in talking with you about joining your company, or if they know someone with similar qualifications. Why not?
3. Increase your Google ranking. Ever wondered how certain people’s names place so high in Google search results? A well-written LinkedIn profile can earn high rankings. Another effective way to gain traction is to share articles or blogs that you like or have written.
4. Do your research. Before you meet with someone, especially a prospect, it’s important to understand all that you can about him or her and their organization as well. Going to a website is good and Googling for them is also important, but LinkedIn often has a wealth of information that you won’t easily find otherwise.
5. Ask for advice, or give it. On LinkedIn, users can post questions and provide answers. For example, if you were a computer hardware expert, you could scroll through and try to answer questions related to your specialty. What does this do? It builds your credibility as an expert in your field. On the other hand, you can get peer advice. I have scrolled through the answers section many times and I am always pleased with the responses I have read. They’re very professional.
6. Groups. If you are on LinkedIn and have not joined a couple of community groups, you are missing out. Make sure you are involved in groups with colleagues and clients. Additionally, if you are searching for people who have something in common and can’t find what you want, create one. I started My Sales Community of LinkedIn a few years ago. I established the people I wanted to join, why they would want to join and what the group was about.7. To help others. The saying, “give, and you shall receive,” applies here. Use LinkedIn to introduce people you think would be a good match. You can easily introduce people to each other, even if they aren’t connected, with LinkedIn’s premium “inMail” service. The nice thing about giving a contact more connections on LinkedIn is that no one wants to have few contacts, so help out a friend and send them a contact or two that makes sense.
Remember: Doing anything poorly is a waste of time. Spend some time with LinkedIn, search around, read posts and post your own. Business is about connections, so make them happen.↵
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.