How to Make LinkedIn Work for You and Your Business


I received the call almost three weeks after spending a futile summer applying to over 30 full-time jobs with hardly a whimper of response from employers. A friend of mine in career services suggested that I needed to take LinkedIn more seriously, so I updated my profile, got over my fear of asking my employers and friends to recommend me, and carefully chose targeted key words eading global trade association who found me on LinkedIn through one of my group memberships. I’m in the final stages of negotiation now with that client. Even when I was conducting a traditional job search, I found LinkedIn “Jobs” to be the singular best search engine on the web because it combines the power of networks with job opportunities.

In short, LinkedIn has transformed my professional capabilities and networking potential. It is a vast and powerful resource that awaits to be tapped by those who understand how to maximize it for their success. One survey says that over 70 percent of employers now search LinkedIn for potential employees, completely bypassing the job posting and resume gathering process.

To get started, go to http://www.LinkedIn.com and create a profile. Use targeted key words so that employers can find your profile easily when they run a word search.

Contrary to popular wisdom, you want to have as large a network as possible on LinkedIn to enjoy its benefits. A network of 4,500 people can give you access to 4.5 million people — 4.5 million people who can find you and pay you! If you only connect with those who know you and are trusted friends, you are limiting your opportunities to your existing network as well. It is much easier for a head hunter or company to find you if you are part of their network through a contact, so this is why it is vital to add as many quality individuals as possible. And I do emphasize quality because adding those without networks of their own won’t help you very much in expanding your own.

There are two ways to increase your networks based on your existing contacts. Get all of your emails in one .CSV file (from Outlook), and then import into LinkedIn using the “Contacts” feature. Click on the “Get Connected” tab and then add all in your CSV file. Only add those who already are LinkedIn members. Then go to TopLinked.com and add all of the top LinkedIn profile users — you will have vastly multiplied your network.

How to build massive targeted groups
: If you are not using the “Groups” on LinkedIn, you should be. These groups provide useful resources but also give you entree to those with the same interests as you. One way to increase your following and credibility in your field is to create a group within your niche. If a group already exists for your niche, then develop a group for your niche in that city or state. I recently did this when I discovered that a group did not exist for one of my niche areas, so I created it. I already am in touch with some key leaders in my field. Add links to your groups on your websites or emails. Once you are part of a group, you now have access to thousands of people who share your same interests and who might be interested in your brand.

To expand your network and credibility even further using the group function:

1. Add a link to your web page to the group page when you are the group’s creator.
2. Go to the “news” tab, and add the RSS feed from your blog.
3. Go to the discussion board, and create a discussion so people notice you and what you have to say. It will show up on the profile of everyone in that group. Ideally, you want to provide the best rated answer to the question, and consulting and speaking opportunities will begin to follow.
4. LinkedIn sends an email every week to all members of the group summarizing the activity of that group, so you again have more eyeballs viewing your leadership and skills.

Five ways to become the #1 leader in your industry on LinkedIn:

1. As I already mentioned, be the founder of a group in your industry. It gives you instant credibility, and instant customers.
2. Send weekly tips and resources to your group memberships. The more you promote others and their services, the better. Karma works on LinkedIn. You can send free messages, and this saves you money on email marketing. Go to “manage group” and “send announcement”. The more you give away, the more tips you give, the more you gain credibility. Answer questions posed by those in your group. If you are rated the best answer in the question thread, consulting and speaking gigs are coming your way! Spend 15 minutes a day answering questions, get ranked the best answer, and 3-5 new clients could come your way per month.
3 Make sure that your profile head line and job descriptions contain key words that attract the attention of employers.
4. ASK your contacts to recommend you. They will be glad to do so, but it won’t happen unless you ask. Recommendations are critical to get the attention of employers.
5. The website function in your profile should link to your Twitter, blog and website.

To look for a job using LinkedIn’s powerful search mechanism, click on “Jobs”, run a search using a keyword and zip code, and then click on the “web” tab. Voila! Just like popular Indeed.com, all of the job listings on the Web are conflated into one search, and you are provided with names of those in your network who can help you ensure that your resume is seen by the right people in an organization. Don’t be afraid to ask — someone else will if you don’t.

For more information on how to maximize LinkedIn, see the book LinkedIn Master Strategies by Lewis Howe.

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