In her book, From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work, Nicole Smartt explains how best to use social media (specifically LinkedIn) to effectively build your business and network.
If you have a professional career, you must be on LinkedIn. I try to devote an hour every day to it. That sounds like a lot of time, but you’ll actually be surprised at what you’ll get in return. As a top one percent LinkedIn member with 6,118 (and counting) connections, I’ve found this position leads to a number of great things: an expanded network, more exposure, and new business. In fact, customers often call and say they found me on LinkedIn. They read the articles I publish and promote there, or they learn about our Star brand and want to do business with a respected leader.
LinkedIn also does a couple of things better than any other platform out there right now: it connects professionals in a more useful way, and it connects them more easily to new networks. Endorsements, easily digestible descriptions of work done for clients, integrated resumes, and work examples all make LinkedIn an unparalleled tool for making great connections.
Most importantly, since I started dedicating an hour a day to LinkedIn (even on weekends), I’ve had a high return on investment with job seekers reaching out to me, new clients wanting to do business, networks offering speaking opportunities, media outlets offering writing gigs, and my company’s own brand becoming better known. All these things equal money and exposure for me and for the company, at no cost. I’m not telling you these things to plug LinkedIn for its own sake. I’m telling you because this strategy has helped me, and it can help you.
Here are my favorite strategies for getting greater exposure on LinkedIn:
- Start blogging. With LinkedIn’s Pulse, you’re able to post as many articles as you want. Writing content will increase your exposure, gain you followers, and help you be viewed as an expert. If you’re not yet an expert, research and become an expert on something.
- Share, share and share some more. But be strategic. Share content with friends and link to it in your email signature. Send articles to your connections letting them know that you’re thinking of them. I share one post a day on my status update as well as a few articles in different groups to attract a larger audience. Think about who would really benefit from this content, and then share it with that person.
- Connect and build. One way to build your network is to add to it frequently. Join groups. Look to see who’s sharing content and using LinkedIn consistently. Connect with those people first. If you meet people in real life who could be good professional connections, search for them on LinkedIn and interact with them there. Every time I connect with people, I send them an introductory email. This is not the same as making a sales pitch. If you are a sales professional, you should not send messages about your service/product. You’ll get a quick delete.
- Engage once a day if you’re job hunting. This will keep you top of mind. It’s also important to post relevant information to show you’re a reputable individual with a solid work ethic. For instance, if you’re looking for a position in human resources, write an article about why you got your original degree in marketing but how you’d now like to start in HR. Connect with groups, and follow companies of interest.
- Use the LinkedIn Connect app. This will help you stay in the know for anniversaries, birthdays, job opportunities, events, and so much more. This is my go-to app. It will update you and give you everything you need to stay connected. Use it daily.
It takes time, but how you spend that time can add up to a large return on investment. It has been for me.