Entrepreneurs should commit to using LinkedIn

Using all of your passion and energy, you (entrepreneurs) should wholeheartedly get involved with LinkedIn. You should view LinkedIn as one of your most important assets supporting future growth.

Where it all happens

By spending a few minutes each week, you can stay top-of-mind with current and future customers as well as investors and contributing experts. In other words, a commitment to LinkedIn can help you sell your products or services, keep in touch with investors, as well as build a cadre of business people who are willing to provide expert advice on how to expeditiously get things done. And it is a free service that is easy to keep up-to-date and to refine in an iterative fashion. Do not be afraid to start! Anything you put up can be easy updated.

Create your profile – First start by going to LinkedIn.com and sign up for your free account and start filling out your profile. Remember to put in a current picture of yourself. LinkedIn is a 60 million-person community of business people connecting with business people. On LinkedIn, remember, folks are not connecting with companies; they are connecting with people. Put your best real self forward.

Tom McMillian

Tom McMillian

When filling in your Professional Headline, don’t just put in your job title, you will have a chance to do that later. Within this section put down the essence of what you do or aspire to do. In my case I’ve put in, “Innovative marketer and online expert”. Think of this as your “Battle Cry” (the Gaelic meaning of slogan). This statement will go along with your name where every you interact within LinkedIn. Give it some thought.

Build your community – Consider starting by using the “Add Connections” button at the top right corner of every LinkedIn page. This LinkedIn tool allows you to send an invitation to link-in to everyone in your contact list that is a member of LinkedIn. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the number of folk you are connected with.

Another piece of advice is to use the LinkedIn tool to send a personal email to each person you want to link in with. In your email, you may want to mention where you know the person from and that you are new to LinkedIn. Do your best to make the note personal and friendly. You will have a much higher success rate taking the time to write a personal note compared to blasting out the “canned” LinkedIn note.

Plus, when you collect business cards, take a few minutes each week to send a LinkedIn invitation to the business people that you want to stay in contact with. Again, make the note personal and remind the person who you are, where you met and why you want to stay in contact with them. Periodically, you can use LinkedIn to send personal emails to connections you want to keep closer contact with. The benefit of using LinkedIn is that you are automatically provided with a working email address that your connection has kept updated.

Network and Communicate – One of the most powerful components of LinkedIn is that when you do anything on LinkedIn, that activity is automatically shared once a week in an email with all your connections (this email contains updates from all of a person’s connections, not just what you have done). For example, if you update your job title or Network Activity (my favorite) then all your connections can read about it in the weekly email. This is a very powerful and non-invasive way to stay top-of-mind with your connections.

One way to plan your LinkedIn communications is to develop an editorial calendar. This calendar could not only include upcoming important business events, but also can contain the occasions (e.g. Groups or Answers) you spend interacting with the LinkedIn community. A goal could be to interact with LinkedIn weekly.

You can share important events and information by using the Network Activity section. This sharing could be about a new service, a successful launch, or a piece of Industry information that your connections may find of interest. Additionally, if you have a blog, you can link you blog into your LinkedIn profile. Once this functionality is set up, every time you write a blog your profile is updated and this change in profile activity is shared with everyone you are LinkedIn to through one of the ‘weekly update’ emails. Another functionality you could connect to your profile is SlideShare. SlideShare enables you to share your PowerPoint presentations. If you have presentation decks that you are proud of, that do not contain proprietary information, then connect these decks to your LinkedIn profile.

A way for you to build a trusted group of advisors is to either join or start your own Group. I’d recommend that you start by joining Groups. There are LinkedIn Groups for just about every business interest and alumni group. Join and listen and when appropriate answer questions and ask questions. A ‘golden rule’ to follow is, “Give to Get”. What this means is share and add value to the Group before you start to pull information out of the Group.

Another LinkedIn activity you can easily participate in is “Answers” (find Answers by clicking on the More button at the top of the every page). At any one time, there are a myriad of questions being posed on LinkedIn. Take a few minutes to read through these questions and if you have something to contribute, then answer a question. When the weekly LinkedIn update is sent out, your name will be included because you took the time to answer a question. Plus, use “Answers” to ask your own questions.

LinkedIn provides a powerful platform for entrepreneurs to grow their business. It is free and takes some planning and a few minutes each week of your time. LinkedIn is a powerful way to connect with investors, potential customers, and with advisors.

[This article was previously published at NJ Entrepreneur – New Jersey’s premiere online business magazine]

2013 // Category : Advocacy & Blog // No Comments

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