With social networking becoming more and more essential for young entrepreneurs, building an effective Social Media strategy becomes inevitable. In this post, I highlight some tips which can maximize the utility of a LinkedIn Free membership account to today's entrepreneurs. Some intelligent time invested with no expenses (other than your computer and internet) can go a long way in getting you nearer to your prospects.
Let us recap some quick facts about LinkedIn as said on their site
- The professional networking site boasts of 80 million members from 200 countries in the world
- About half the number of members come from outside the United States
- Executives of all fortune 500 companies network on LinkedIn
With that, let us have a bird's eye view of the features of a free LinkedIn membership account
- Professional profile — Showcases the education and experience of a professional as well as gives provision to showcase achievements, interests and present updates
- Groups — LinkedIn has around 719,598 groups mapping to varied interests (company level, alumni groups, interest based groups, associations, etc); a free member can join up to 50 groups at a time
- Q&A — A provision to leverage the knowledge of millions of professionals and conversely, a platform to showcase one's expertise by answering relevant questions in one's area of work — a free member can answer unlimited questions and ask up to 10 questions in a month.
- Applications — Applications that feature the activity of a professional (blog, slide show sharing, travel plans, reading shelf, etc) provide to showcase the beyond-work life and activity of the member
Professional Profile -Dos and Don'ts
As mentioned above, your professional profile is the first window to your personality. A viewer forms his/her first impression on you by going through you profile. It is important to pay due attention to profile maintenance. Some Dos and Don'ts pertaining to LinkedIn professional profile:
- Keep the profile updated
- Update the Summary and specialties with new skills and knowledge you are gaining
- Keep the profile complete (from school education to last company where you've worked).
- Capture the best of your achievements in crisp words and present it.
- Leverage the status message to share aboutÂ your latest deals, travel, achievements, etc.
- Use maximum applications which describe the professional activity (reading books, travel, blog, slide share, etc.)
- Be proactive in seeking recommendations from your employers, clients, etc. as soon as you complete a project
- Lie about your education or experience details
- Include unnecessary details on any part of the profile which do not add value
- Pitch for untrue recommendations
- Delay responding to any comments or suggestions that seek due attention
Your connections expand your scope and possibilities in reaching your goals. Sending a request for connection is possible if the other professional is:
- Your colleague (worked in the same company)
- Your client or provider (Did business together)
- Your friend (you share a personal rapport outside LinkedIn
- Co-member of your group (Share a same group)
- You have the e mail id of the person
There are also other ways you can get introduced to new members through Q&A or through a common connection, etc.
- Be creative in framing your connection request
- Include a brief introduction of yourself and the reason to connect with the person in crisp words
- Maintain a courteous communication with all connections, and be proactive in adding value to conversations
- State untrue mentions of a common school or company
- Spam your connections with irrelevant material
- Push conversations beyond acceptable limits
Groups allow for open discussions on relevant topics and are an excellent platform to collect and summarize opinions and suggestions by other professionals. They also provide for relevant promotions, Job postings and connection expansion
- Join relevant groups of your interests and associations. LinkedIn Free members can join up to 50 groups. Join 5-10 groups relevant to your schools and colleges and past companies. Join around 30-35 groups of your professional interests and associations and keep the rest for your hobby related activities
- Be active on discussions and contribute relevant knowledge
- Adhere to the rules of the group
- Look for useful contacts and be proactive to connect to them for a mutually fruitful interaction
- Post relevant promotional material in relevant groups
- Post irrelevant content or spam the discussion groups
- Get into personal debates in any discussion
- React impulsively to critical remarks. Respond after due deliberation and be courteous. At the same time, try to assert your arguments with sufficient data and logic.
Every point of expertise earned for each answer adds to the profile value.Â LinkedIn Q&A provides a good platform to prove your worthiness. Some simple points kept in mind while participating in the Q&A could go a long way in getting the maximum benefits.
- Be regular and prompt in identifying and answering questions in your areas of strength
- Read other responses and learn
- Share appropriate links and be generous in suggesting true experts from your network. This shows you are well read and well connected
- Be courteous while negating other responses and avoid personal remarks
- Be prompt in adding clarifications and further knowledge when required
- Thank the questioner when he/she awards good/best answer status and try to connect. He could be your potential customer
- Attempt to answer when you yourself are unsure.
- Resort to personal remarks that would hurt the ego of other professionals
- Push the questioner to give you a point of expertise if you do not truly deserve it
Following the above guidelines will help you to make the very most of the great professional tool LinkedIn can be.Â If you have other suggestions for optimizing your time on LinkedIn, please share in the comments below.
Saiswaroopa Iyer holds an MBA degree from IIT Kharagpur. Her experience includes short stints with Aranca (Equity Research) and Infosys (Unit Operations Management). Read more about Sai here.