This article is part of week-long series of social media stories, which you can read by clicking here .
Five years ago, Jan Wallen accepted a friend’s invitation to join the business networking site LinkedIn. Today, she’s the author of the book “Mastering LinkedIn in 7 Days or Less.”
As LinkedIn inches closer to the 100 million users benchmark and rumors linger about the social network’s desire to put its stocks in the public’s hands, Wallen continues to help users learn how to boost sales, get more referrals and grow their business.
“My background has always been in sales, sales management and customer-relationship management … so I saw immediately how powerful LinkedIn was,” Wallen told BusinessNewsDaily, but “I talked to everyone I knew about LinkedIn, and every single person said, ‘Oh! I'm on LinkedIn, but I don't know what to do with it.’ ”
Here, Wallen shares tips on how to use LinkedIn to your advantage and predicts what LinkedIn has up its sleeve for 2011.
BusinessNewsDaily: If LinkedIn goes public, what does this mean for users and businesses?
Jan Wallen: Rumors have been surfacing for a number of months. If LinkedIn does go public, I expect it will continue to grow, expand and develop more new features that will continue to make LinkedIn the best online network for businesses and professionals.
BND: What moves do you see LinkedIn making this year?
J.W.: In 2011, I see LinkedIn continuing to do what they have been doing over the past year: increasing what we can do to enhance our careers and our businesses and making it easier for professionals to do business with each other. I expect they will continue to enhance and expand the features and to continue to build their membership.
I also see LinkedIn collaborating with other services even more than they have. For example, a number of free add-in applications are now available such as SlideShare, Blog Link, Company Buzz, WordPress, Amazon Reading List, Huddle, Events and many more. Plus LinkedIn now links to Twitter.
BND: What has LinkedIn done for you as a professional?
J.W.: LinkedIn has meant so much to me as a professional that it’s hard to count the ways.
I can attribute new business and new clients to my profile and activity on LinkedIn. Potential clients have found me on LinkedIn, contacted me, and after our conversation, they have hired my company to help them achieve their business and career goals. Referrals and speaking engagements have also come to me through LinkedIn.
As a proactive user of LinkedIn, I look up companies that may be potential clients, see how I'm already connected to people in that company and build on those relationships that I already have.
When I'm preparing for a sales visit, I look up a person’s profile on LinkedIn to get an idea of what they're interested in and things that we may have in common. I also look at their photo, and when we meet in person, it seems like we already know each other, so it moves the sales process along more quickly.
BND: What are some tips that you’ve recently learned that didn’t get into your book?
J.W.: Here are some great new tips that will be in the new updated version of my book – coming soon.
Put a video up on LinkedIn: You can showcase your expertise with a video, really differentiate yourself from someone else who does something similar and make it more likely for someone to hire you, bring your company in or do business with you.
Let people know that you’re on LinkedIn with a special LinkedIn button: LinkedIn provides “View My Profile” buttons containing LinkedIn graphics that you can post on your blog, message board or website.
Use add-in applications: SlideShare displays PowerPoint slides on your profile, BlogLink – links to your blog, TripIt connects you with people when you travel, Huddle Workspace create areas for a team to work, and Company Buzz reveals what people are saying about your company.
BND: You stress the importance of connecting online. What do you do to stay connected offline in the real world?
J.W.: I use LinkedIn and in-person networking in tandem. LinkedIn is not a substitute for in-person networking. The magic is in the mix – not doing only one thing.
For example, when I meet someone at a meeting, I look up their profile on LinkedIn and connect. I also pick up the phone and set a time to have coffee, refer people to them and ask for introductions. Before a sales visit or going to a meeting, you sometimes see the list of who will be there. I review the list and look up people on LinkedIn before I go to the meeting, that way I know who I want to talk with in-depth at the meeting.
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