LinkedIn is, by far, one of the most professional social networking sites out there. With a resume-style set-up that promotes true referrals, recommendations, and introductions, this particular site seems most realistic for those looking to make true business connections. With that in mind, users have to be careful to spend their time on the site carefully creating their profiles and networking rather than wasting time. Here are some things you can do to maximize the small amount of time you are able to give your LinkedIn account regularly.
Make Sure Your Profile is 100% Complete
Absolutely no exceptions! Your profile must be 100% complete in order for you to get the most out of your membership on this site. Profiles that are 100% complete rank higher in search engines than partially completed profiles. A complete profile will have a current work position, at least 2 past work positions, a completed education segment, a summary, a photo, a list of specialties, and at least three recommendations.
The latter can be tricky if your account is new and you have no connections. This is why it is important to not ignore the offers to import your contact list from an email account. Doing so makes it easier to find and connect with those you have worked with in the past – the people who are likely to write those recommendations for you.
Update Your Status Regularly
LinkedIn gives you a status update box very similar to the ones Facebook and Twitter use. The difference is that this is a professional business networking site, so you can’t waste your time – or the time of the professionals following you – posting about what you’re going to have for lunch. Post news about your industry, relevant article links, or updates about your current personal business projects. Keep your updates professional and please, please, please remember to spell check.
Don’t Send Tons of Invitations
Don’t waste your time sending tons of invitations to those you aren’t sure will join the network. Many people don’t realize that LinkedIn will only allow you to invite 3,000 people over the life of your account. Wasting your time inviting a ton of people will limit what you are able to do in the future when you have a real connection you’d like to encourage to join. Be sparing and don’t waste your time simply attempting to boost your number of connections.
When you do attempt to connect with someone on LinkedIn, send a brief messages reminding that person of who you are, how you met, or what you’ve done together in the past. Sending a personalized message will jar a person’s memory and reduce the odds of you being accused of spamming the community if too many people don’t actually remember you enough to accept without thinking about who you are.
Research Your Potential Customers
Are you getting ready to meet with a new customer or potential business partner? Take a moment to look that person up on LinkedIn and familiarize yourself with what he does. You may find that you went to the same school or have some sort of past training or job experience in common. You may simply find out a bit more about what the person does, enjoys, and hopes to do with his business – all things you can ask about or incorporate into your presentation.
LinkedIn can be an incredibly valuable networking tool, but only if you avoid abusing it. Be careful about making unnecessary introductions, create at truthful profile, avoid gossip, and maintain a professional image at all times. Everything else is a waste of time.
About the Author: Kit Soard works from home and loves using social media sites to drive traffic to her business. When she’s not working, she’s constantly on the search for ink and toner deals so that she can keep up with the homework and printing needs of her 3 teens!