The concept of social networking isn’t a hard one. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow people to share content and connect with like-minded individuals over the internet. These sites have exploded in popularity over the past 10 years as they are easy to use and give ordinary people a platform to express themselves to a large audience. With the amount of people using social media set to increase to 2.95 billion by the year 2020, it wouldn’t be so wrong to call social media the greatest thing to effect anthropology since, well, forever?
The way we act as a society is changing, social media and social networking sites are now and will forever be a part of our social construct. For better or worse, Social media is here and it is no longer a ‘Should you use it?’ question, it’s ‘How will you use it?’, so tell Granny it’s time to get online.
All jokes aside, the biggest thing that people still seem to miss is the use of social media in business. There are still business professionals out there that share 5 memes, tag 2 friends and like 16 posts a day on their personal account, but never wonder how they can use the social media to help in their business life. That number is slowly decreasing, thankfully, but it still begs the question, what should I be doing, as a professional, to help my business or the business I work for, grow?
To make things super simple, let’s pretend you are a very busy person and you don’t have time to be updating, creating and connecting on 6 different social networking sites. Let’s say you have just enough time and brain effort to add one social networking site to your schedule, which do you choose? Easy, LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is by far the best place for professionals to interact and connect with other business professionals. Remember the days where there seemed to be loads of networking events? Ever wonder where they all disappeared to? They moved to LinkedIn. With over 433 million users, 40% of which are active on the platform every day, LinkedIn is a platform you and your business can’t really afford to not be on and that’s why, if you only have time for one professional social networking account, it has to be LinkedIn.
- Get on LinkedIn
Sign up for an account and update your profile with as much detail as possible. Treat your LinkedIn account as a digital CV but show some personality as if you were updating an online dating profile. People who come across your profile will want to not only know what you’ve done professionally, but also who you are, what kind of person you would be over a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to express your personal brand. Your profile should be the content that people enjoy reading.
- Upload a sexy photo.
By sexy I don’t mean Saturday night sexy, I mean boardroom sexy. Think James Bond with a splash of Michelle Obama. Your photo will most likely be the first thing people see when they stumble upon you profile, so think real hard about what you want that photo to say about you. I would suggest staying away from group photos or photos from a night out but that may go without saying. Before uploading a profile picture, have a look at what other people in your industry use as theirs. Follow these photo guidelines and you can’t really go to wrong.
- Connect with people.
LinkedIn will try and tell you to only connect with people you know, if you see this message, ignore it. Obviously start with people you know, but don’t stop there. Connect with people who you think will add value to your LinkedIn wall, people who you think will have information or content that you could benefit from. Often these people will share a lot of information through posts and LinkedIn blogs which you can then share, interact with or even just use to help your own ideas flourish. Connect with people who you also think could also help you in your business goals. Whether this be potential customers or stainless steel banding suppliers, connect with them and build relationships with them. The people you need are right there with you on LinkedIn.
- Engage, share and create.
While working away in your everyday life there will be bits of information that you find interesting. Whether it’s a news article that relates to your industry or a manufacturing video that you haven’t seen before, share it with your peers on LinkedIn. If you have connected with the right people, they will find the content just as interesting as you did and they will be grateful that you shared it. They will show you their interest by either liking your post or sharing it themselves. The content you posted will then gain more exposure and maybe even gain you more connections. You should do the same with the content that you see from your connections. This will show your appreciation and helps you nurture mutually beneficial relationships, especially with connections that you may not officially ‘know’. Don’t be afraid to be active on LinkedIn. Your activity will only help you increase your popularity and showcase your position within the industry in which you work.
- Create and update Company pages.
Now this one may not be for everyone as a company LinkedIn page is usually managed by the marketing team but if you have access or the authority to create a company page, it’s a rather useful tool. Company pages are simple to set up as all LinkedIn needs is a brief summary of business details like address and contact information. The most important part of the company page is the summary. This section allows you to write a description that sells your business, so be as detailed as you can. Once the page is set up, you can then post content as the business itself. People who come across the content can then follow the company page if they want to be updated when new content is published or for any news or special offers. You can also use your personal account to share company page content to your connections. This means that you and your company attributes will be showcased together which could attract potential stakeholders.
- Paid Advertising
Like many social networks, LinkedIn has the ability to target consumers via paid advertising. If you feel that your personal and/or company pages have been performing well but may benefit from a little exposure boost, why not try a little paid promotion. It’s very simple to set up through the post settings, the only thing you really need to pay attention to is your target audience. You will want to decide what you want to promote and who you want to promote it to, specifically. The more specific you are, the more chance your content will end up in front of the right people. Being too general in your targeting will be costly with little return, so choose your segment wisely.
These 6 simple actions can help you grow your professional network through LinkedIn. It really is worth your effort over other platforms and can be fun if you let it be. So go on, set 10 minutes away each day for your LinkedIn endeavour. Watch your efforts pay off in ways you never thought possible from 6 simple steps.