Jul 18

Idaho Statesman Business Insider

Thanks to the Idaho Statesman Business insider for carrying this Social Media Yak column about LinkedIn. It’s based on a recent interview with Sonja Beekley, a local expert and instructor on LinkedIn who came on the show.

The column may not be fully accessible online so I have included it here. Beekley gives some great advice about LinkedIn, which many people find hard to figure out, so it’s definitely worth a read.

LinkedIn knowledge an essential part of business strategy

Have you ever wondered how to reach that key person in a company to pitch a proposal – or maybe consider hiring you? Emails and voice mails go unanswered and you know there’s got to be a better way.

I was looking for some guidance myself, so I interviewed a LinkedIn expert on the Social Media Yak radio show. Sonja Beekley, a fellow social media consultant, has educated thousands on in her workshops on how to use LinkedIn. LinkedIn users typically have a job and are looking for a better one, or they have no job and are looking to get employed, or they are conducting business and making relevant contacts.

LinkedIn is the fourth-biggest social medium, behind Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It’s a few years older than Facebook and its stock is worth about twice as much. Yet, many find LinkedIn to be as hard-to-figure out as Twitter and plink around on it before giving up. LinkedIn can do quite a bit for a person’s professional branding efforts so it’s worth some attention.

Beekley shared these tips to a successful LinkedIn strategy:

  • Fill out your resume and update it regularly. Your resume is the heart of your LinkedIn presence. You can go into a fair amount of detail; the better resumes encapsulate experience, then go into more detail farther down.
  • Build up your contact list. Upload your email address book to LinkedIn and invite those people to become contacts (analogous to Facebook friends). First-level contacts are those who have accepted your invitation; second-level contacts are friends of these contacts, and so on. Although you can invite most LinkedIn users to become contacts, LinkedIn will make you state how you know them. You can get mutual first-level contacts to introduce you to a second-level contact – such as that key business manager you’ve been trying to reach. Search LinkedIn for relevant names and comb the contact lists of your contacts for more leads. Find dots and connect them.
  • Get and give recommendations. Find people you used to work with or did business with, or even acquaintances from college or a seminar. When you give a recommendation, ask for one, and collect as many positive recommendations as you can. Observe who that important business contact recommends and get to know them.
  • Join relevant groups and contribute. There are thousands of industry groups on LinkedIn, where members talk shop, grouse, celebrate and connect. Some groups have tens of thousands of members, others just few. Join groups whose members include influencers in your industry, as well as that important contact you’re trying to reach. Listen to what people are saying in these groups and make positive contributions when ready. With any luck, that important contact will appreciate you insights and may even engage you. You can invite people to become your contact if you belong to the same group.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn users have a “wall.” Update your wall regularly with relevant links and comments and write on others’ walls and comments. Congratulate colleagues on their successes and promotions, announce your own news and judiciously name-drop.

Some etiquette tips: Don’t hit up people you don’t know, unless you can explain why, and don’t make direct pitches right off the bat. LinkedIn is like a business meeting – from the water cooler to the board room – so your value is measured in how you can help others.

Martin Johncox is a public relations and social media consultant and producer of the Social Media Yak radio show, broadcast on 580 KIDO AM. For more information, visit alexanderandassociates.com.