Jumping on the LinkedIn Bandwagon
I love talking about LinkedIn with clients, especially those who aren't convinced about its value. Here's what I say to them:
1. Do you want to manage your online reputation, or do you want the web to manage it for you? Just Google yourself and / or your business name, and you’ll see what I mean. In the case of one of my clients who is not yet on LinkedIn, the information that pops about him is more than eight years old. Not a good impression for a job-hunter!
2. Do you want to be found? LinkedIn ranks extremely high in Google’s search engine. While Google’s search algorithm is always being updated, a strong presence on LinkedIn is likely to play an even greater role in their search formula.
3. Why has LinkedIn become more important? The answer is simple – an incredible growth rate. In 2011, there were 44 million LinkedIn users in the US alone. As of June 2013, that number has almost doubled -- there are almost 75 million users in the US and 225 million worldwide. Members are joining LinkedIn at a rate of two per second!
4. If you’re a business owner, LinkedIn provides potential clients with a way to check you out as an individual business professional, as well as an opportunity to learn about your business through the posted link to your business website. If you don’t have a presence on LinkedIn, you’re likely losing business because your lack of participation in the virtual business community is a statement in and of itself. If prospects can’t find you, you are not only missing an opportunity, you are vulnerable to losing them to a competitor.
5. Likewise, if you’re an employed business professional, you can enhance your professional reputation by leveraging all of LinkedIn’s capabilities, far too numerous to elaborate here. Some key tidbits: showcase your talents and experience by acquiring recommendations and endorsements. Establish a presence by participating in relevant professional groups. Continue to maintain relationships and efficiently communicate with past and current colleagues and bosses. Build your network of contacts. The possibilities are endless!
6. And, if you’re conducting a job search, you’ll have an informative, dynamic, appealing LinkedIn profile so that recruiters will find you and want to seek you out. That’s right – LinkedIn has become the number one search vehicle used by recruiters to find and screen potential job candidates. Even if you’re not actively looking to make a change, knowing that you’ve been found by a recruiter is an endorsement in and of itself!
7. As a business professional, you can use the power of group participation to seek out people that you want to meet – a benefit that comes with group participation. And with more than 1.25 million groups, an astonishing number, you can find a niche group or a mega group that will give you the exposure you’re seeking.
8. Navigating LinkedIn is quite straightforward, although it’s getting a bit challenging to keep up with all of it’s frequent changes -- but those changes demonstrate the commitment that LinkedIn management is making to ensure it’s service is as useful as possible. There’s even a smartphone application that takes a photo of a business card and then connects to that individual’s LinkedIn profile. From a card in your hand to an invitation to connect – a great and powerful timesaver!
9. Your expectations about LinkedIn need to be tied to a strategy – defining your objectives, how to achieve them, and also understanding potential limitations. LinkedIn can be a great tool for business-to-business social networking but many not be ideal for direct-to consumer marketing, which might be best left to Facebook at this time.
10. At a minimum, LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to post the equivalent of an interactive resume and to expand and share your Rolodex to the extent that you want to. But, it’s much more than that. It’s really a career management tool that along with other tools in your toolkit helps you to manage your professional reputation, interact with your colleagues, and control how you present yourself to the business community.