How to Get The Most from LinkedIn

 Monday, September 12, 2011

What Can LinkedIn Do for Me?

LinkedIn has been around since 2003, and many people use it differently.  The question of what it can do for people seems to be a very popular question.  In short, LinkedIn is a professional networking site with an executive representation of Fortune 500 companies.  It is a great way to find people and is a great way to read someone's business history in a single screen. The site also helps you to understand who they know and network with.

Some interesting facts you probably did not know about LinkedIn:

- The average number of LinkedIn connections for people who work at Google is forty-seven.

- The average number for Harvard Business School grads is fifty-eight, so you could skip the MBA, work at Google, and probably get most of the connections you need. Later, you can hire Harvard MBAs to prepare your income taxes.

- People with more than twenty connections are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.

- All 500 of the Fortune 500 are represented in LinkedIn. In fact, 499 of them are represented by director-level and above employees.

Top Reasons to Use LinkedIn

 1. Building your Reputation. LinkedIn is a great tool for people to outline their experience, accomplishment, organizations and network. Too often I have seen incomplete profiles. A crucial element to get LinkedIn to work for you is to make sure your profile is 100% complete. Include all your previous employers, groups you belong to, your "advertisement", websites and other important information. LinkedIn is also becoming a place where employers find candidates, so if you are job hunting, this may be the place for you.

 2. Find Qualified Candidates. You want to find the best candidate because it will benefit the company, but weeding through all the applicants can be exhausting. Well, how about using your network to find employees? LinkedIn has a great job posting board, which is also very inexpensive. Even if you don't want to field unknown candidates, you can send out an email to all your connections.

 3. Find New Connections. Have you ever felt like sometimes you see the same people at the networking events? Would you like to meet new people? Use LinkedIn and do a search. For example, let's say you want to meet Architects. I just go to LinkedIn and type “Architects” in the search box. LinkedIn will search your contact's contacts and return the results. The best part is it shows you how you are connected to the person, which can then be used for introductions. LinkedIn also provides results of what they call 3rd degree friends. Essentially, your contact has a contact that knows the architect. It seems complicated, but it is a great way to expand your network and your friend's network. Try a search, see what happens. LinkedIn also has introductions, a tool they offer to give you an introduction to a person you want to meet.

 4. Increase your Google Ranking. Ever wondered how people's names come up so high up on Google searches? I don’t have the secret Google formula, but can tell you a well written LinkedIn profile earns a high rank on the page. The more information you have on LinkedIn (or Blog articles), the better your Google ranking.

5. Scope out Competition, Customers & Partners.  Most people use Google or another search engine to see what information they can find out about their market. The market includes your customers, competitors and partners. LinkedIn is a great tool for research.  Another key advantage is to see what groups your customers or potential customers belong to.

 6. Groups. LinkedIn just added a new tool to search groups. The groups range from networking groups to Alumni groups to Company groups. Groups can be a great tool for networking. There are many different ways to use the groups and their members as leads into conversations. As a plus, when you join a group you can show the group on your profile. The benefit could be others see the group and find they have a common thread with you.

7. Recommendations. LinkedIn has created a system where your contacts can recommend you. Leverage the power of LinkedIn to get recommendations and be sure to give them as well.

8. Help Others. Use LinkedIn to introduce people you think would be a good match. You can easily do introductions to the people with LinkedIn's inMail. The nice thing about giving a contact more connections on LinkedIn is that no one wants to be the person with the least help out a friend and send them a contact or two that makes sense for them. Part of helping others can be helping them use LinkedIn.

9. Use it on the go. LinkedIn is configured to be able to use it on your handheld device. While you waiting at the airport, doctor's office or another waiting area, log into LinkedIn and network from anywhere. Just go to

10. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends. Small business owners deal with challenging questions on a slew of topics each day. LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to those vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network (LinkedIn tells me there are over 200 different categories on Answers including one dedicated to small business and over 2000 groups on small business related topics). Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topicshere.

I hope this helps you take LinkedIn beyond the usual uses and makes you and your business even more successful.

Guest Blog: Take Ten!

 Wednesday, October 27, 2010
By: May Ellen Merrigan of the Merrigan Group

Overnight, fall arrived. The temperature dropped. Leaves began to turn. Suddenly, “finishing strong” seems like a great way to end the year. Putting forth the effort now to fast start the first quarter might feel overwhelming to some entrepreneurs. “It’s all I can do to think about the holidays,” you may gasp.

Take a deep breath and then “Take Ten.”  Pump up the results of your marketing efforts with these ten easy steps. 

Ten Ways to Finish Strong 

1.    Play with promotional strategies that pop. Strengthen your general plan (open house, special sale, gift ideas). Is there a story you can tell, a picture you might show, an alliance you could form? Develop a distinct theme for use throughout all communications this season.  As you create new ideas, a synergy will begin that will help you hone and expand your message.  

2.    Make your end-of-year appointments.  Call your graphics person, marketing strategist and web developer. Arrange for a general communication meeting to brainstorm promotional ideas. Be daring and different and include all of your vendor partners. 

3.    Plan your content strategy. List every piece of communication, including each advertisement, blog post, email and newsletter. How can you gain more visibility for materials you’ve already produced? 

4.    Invite two or three best customers to add input. Host a coffee or tea party for a few of your good customers and delve into their minds. Let them remind you of the things they love about your business. Write down the descriptive words and phrases they use and incorporate these into your plan.  

5.    Review social media and determine to use it effectively. The public hue and cry about social media serves to remind us to get social. If you’ve not stayed current, ask for help. Think outside the box. Incorporate one social media strategy into your plan. Find your customers online.

6.    Seek collaborative opportunities. Use creative partnering to extend your money, time and visibility. Brick and mortar businesses might organize a social event for stores in their strip center. Service businesses could produce a collective open house or preview party. Even better, team up with another business to offer a product with purchase. This is about getting the word out.

7.    Stay visible. The activities and bustle of the season may tempt you to go within, focusing exclusively on your own business. Resist. Find ways to network with other entrepreneurs. Listen to their ideas. In the process, you’ll boost your own creative output.

8.    Perform a self-evaluation. Rate the effectiveness of each strategy and its return on investment. Vow to find new ideas to replace those that are least effective. Then look for promotions you can adapt to use in your business. Note what works for others. Even better, ask them, “How’s that working for you?”

9.    Clean house! Review and archive files – paper and computer.

10.    Enjoy this time! Resolve to have fun each and every day. Celebrate your blessings. “Take ten” every day just to reconnect with all that is good.

Marketing and publicity consultant Mary Ellen Merrigan, Merrigan Group LLC, founded her blog, ProfitMeister, to provide DIY (Do It Yourself) marketing strategies for independent businesses. She is the author of The Six Week Marketing Plan, a content-packed e-book that simplifies marketing today.

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