More than 50 million business people around the world use LinkedIn. Like all social networking tools, what you get out of it depends on what you put in and how you interact with other users.
LinkedIn has many uses. Three of my favourites are that it helps you stay connected to your network of contacts, shows how your network is connected to a specific company and acts as a source of valuable information.
1. Staying Connected.
LinkedIn allows you to stay connected to people that you might otherwise lose contact with. Without LinkedIn, when you change jobs, you might stay in touch with one or two people that you were close to, but lose touch with everyone else. Not because you want to, but just due to the busy-ness of life.
By connecting with your current colleagues and contacts on LinkedIn, wherever you end up living and working, if you ever want to get in touch, it’s easy to send a LinkedIn email. And you never have to worry about your email address list being out of date, as it’s likely your contacts will update their LinkedIn account if they change email addresses.
2. Company Search
If you’re applying for a job or looking to do business with a certain company, using the Company search will show if any of your contacts know someone who works at that company.
Here are the steps:
- Log in to your LinkedIn account and use the search field in the right hand side of the main navigation bar (it defaults to People search so use the pull down to select Companies)
- Type in the name of the Company you’re interested in and click search
- You’ll see a list of companies, click on the one that best matches the company you are looking for and you’ll see a list of current and former employees who are connected to one of your contacts.
Then it’s up to you to decide how to use the information. Selecting a contact that you have a great relationship with and finding out how well they know the person at the company you’re interested in, might be a good place to start. Then, potentially they could facilitate an introduction.
LinkedIn Groups are an incredibly valuable source of information. Join groups related to your industry, related to a topic that you’d like to learn more about or that your potential customers and business partners might be a member of.
Once you’ve become a member of a group, read the discussions to get a feel for the type of topics that are discussed and how the group interacts.
By starting a discussion in a group you can:
- Get input from other members on a topic that you need to know more about
- Do market research by asking a question and getting answers from people with the right background and experience
- Generate warm web traffic by including a link to your website in the discussion, for those who would like to read more.
Like all social media, it’s critical that you offer information of value to other group members and be open to receiving feedback and having a healthy discussion.
Never simply push your products or services. It’s a big turn off.
PS If you found this article helpful, also find out why Twitter is Good for Your Business