This article is part of week-long series of social media stories, which you can read by clicking here .
LinkedIn is a “24-hour cocktail party for business people,” according to Eric Rice, CEO of the marketing agency LWI.
And there aren’t many LinkedIn users who’d beg to differ. Most of the 90 million-plus people who have profiles on the online networking website use it to meet new contacts and catch up with old friends — just like a partygoer at a social event.
“It also acts as a pencil mark on the doorway, like when you were a kid. It shows the world your overall growth in stages and documents everything along the way. It is a living résumé,” Rice said.
To help you breathe life into this online résumé — whether you’re new to LinkedIn or have an existing page — absorb this advice to improve your individual profile or business account.
Why join or beef up your existing presence on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn provides what other social networks such as Facebook do not, according to communications coach Sherrie Madia: Freedom from the awkwardness of the crossover between personal and professional space.
"This is a networking site where the commodity is connections and everyone rides on the premise of ‘What can your network do for me?’ ” said Madia, who is a communications and social media professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “The site is transactional and professional. Oh, and the unfortunate photos of the intoxicated girl or guy dancing on the bar are few and far between.”
7 tips for your personal profile
If used correctly, LinkedIn can be a gold mine for business people, said Anthony Kirlew, founder of AKA Internet Marketing, who offered this advice:
- Create a complete profile with a picture. It's about creating the relationship, and seeing you is a big first step.
- Join a group or two related to what you do and provide valuable input to the conversations in progress.
- Visit “LinkedIn Answers” and search for open questions in your field. When answering, don't hold back. If you have some “insider knowledge” that you feel you need to keep private, keep in mind, you might see your competitor posting it later. In the information age, there are few true secrets, and those who share openly get credit for being the experts.
- Link your blog to your LinkedIn profile. As you post, your content will be shared on your profile.
- If you don't have one already, create a company page (see next section).
- Seek to be a giver not a “getter.” If people perceive you are there to advance your agenda, they may miss out on the critical information you have to share. You can certainly share promotional information, just not all day throughout the day. And never provide misleading links to get people to look at your blog or website.
- Check in daily. Update your status daily, respond to questions and invitations promptly, and be the first to answer questions in your field.
How to create a business account
Only current employees with a company-owned e-mail address can build a business profile.
“Common e-mail domains such as yahoo.com, gmail.com, hotmail.com or others cannot be used,” said Sandy Jones-Kaminski, an online marketing strategist, who provided this step-by-step guide.
- Click on “Companies” under ”More” in the top navigation bar of your home page.
- Click on the “Add a Company” link in the upper right area of the page.
- Type in your company’s official name and your e-mail address on the “Company Name and E-mail”page.
- If your company e-mail address is not a confirmed e-mail address on your LinkedIn account, a confirmation e-mail will be sent to the company e-mail address. The e-mail will give you a link to log in to your LinkedIn account.
- If your e-mail address is confirmed, you will be taken to the“Create a Company” page.
- Click on “Create a Company” once you have completed the required fields.
“From a branding perspective, (company profiles) showcase top products, services, promotions and people within the company,” Madia said.
If you do not have a registered company-owned e-mail address to launch a business profile, you may still create a group to promote your business.
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- 5 Ways Businesses Will Use Social Media in 2011