A pretty common question these days is “which social network is the best?” – And to that I usually say – “the one that helps you meet your marketing objectives” – and in that regard, many are great, but for different reasons.

LinkedInI really like some things about LinkedIn. It has always tended towards the service oriented professional, in my opinion, but it has plenty to like in the brand asset optimization world that all businesses live in as well. My advice for most business owners is to find a social network or platform that seems most suited to your business objectives and dive in pretty deep, focusing more casual attention on the others, at least initially. Going hard and deep into one network, like LinkedIn, is the only way to gain the momentum delivered by consistent work and engagement.

So, when it comes to LinkedIn – here are 5 tips to get more

1) Your Profile

This is a great brand asset so don’t waste it. Make it informative and optimized for search.

  • Add a photo – nothing says nobody’s home faster than the default icon
  • Get the branded URL – something like this is what you want http://www.linkedin.com/in/ducttapemarketing – it’s something you pick during editing
  • Links with Anchor text – link to your blog, products, workshops, etc. through the “other” tab and you can add anchor text for the link
  • Be descriptive – use the “Summary” to tell your story in a compelling way and add lots of keywords in the “specialty” section
  • Keep it active – LinkedIn has a status update feature, much like Facebook and twitter, that you should update routinely
  • Link to it – put links to your profile in your email signature and other online pages. Optimization is a two way street.

The image above shows the links on my profile with carefully selected anchor text that links to pages on my site. LinkedIn is one of the few social profiles sites that allows this.

2) Give to Get

When people view profiles one of the top features is something called recommendations. While these may feel a little fluffy when you read them, lack of them can be a competitive issue. You should acquire some recommendations and I find the best way to get them is to give them. Choose people in your network that you’ve worked with and write an honest statement of recommendation. Don’t be surprised if you receive some in return.

3) Show What You’ve Got

An overlooked feature on LinkedIn, in my opinion, is the Question and Answer function. By jumping in and answering questions thoughtfully you can demonstrate a given expertise while potentially engaging contacts that are drawn to your knowledge. The key phrase is thoughtfully answering. LinkedIn even has a rating system to reward people who give the best answers with some added exposure.

The flip side of this tip is to ask thoughtful questions. This can be a great way to get useful information, but it’s equally powerful as a tool to create conversations, discussion and engagement with like minded connections.

4) Lead a Group

Anyone can launch a group on LinkedIn and lead discussions and networking on a specific topic of interest. If you take this tip to heart and put some effort into a niche group you can gain added influence with your network, but groups are also open to the LinkedIn universe as a whole and some folks find that this is one of the strongest ways to build their network. Building a group around an established brand is also a great way to bring users or customers together.

5) Repurpose Content

Since members of your network, and those of the larger LinkedIn community, may only experience your brand on the LinkedIn platform, it’s a great idea to enhance your profile with educational information. This is best done using some of the 3rd party applications that LinkedIn has collected for this purpose.

  • BlogLink – displays your latest blog posts on your profile
  • Box.net – allows you to create links to files such as resumes and marketing kits
  • Slideshare – embeds slideshow presentations and demos
  • Company Buzz – scrapes twitter for mentions of your brand or other topics you assign

Bonus Tip

Some organizations, particularly those searching for employees, might really benefit from the new Customer Company Profile offerings. Using Custom Company Profiles, a company can provide a rich, multimedia overview of careers offered, through a variety of modules including recruitment messaging, employee/recruiter spotlights, jobs, polls and videos.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Thanks for the great tips. Linkedin may very well be on of the most underutilized social networks out there from a value vs size point of view.

    More people should be talking about this great service.

  • Great tips, John. I'm happy to see I'm them to one degree or another. 🙂 A few things that came to mind:

    Lead a group does not mean you have to start your own if there's already popular and good ones in your area. It can mean adding news items and starting and participating in discussions. Adding news items is also another way to repurpose content as you can add your own blog posts.

    Joining groups also means that most of the members will show up with full profiles when you search, not just as nameless job descriptions. This can be really helpful when you're looking for people with similar interests or who work at certain companies. I find approaching someone with a similar interest more comfortable than having my name (maybe) passed along to a 3rd degree connection.

    I subscribe to the RSS feed of the Qs in the sections that I am most interested in answering/learning about. This way I can page down and scan them MUCH faster than going through LinkedIn's interface. I save the ones I want to see the answers of and return to them later and click directly through to the ones I want to contribute to. The RSS feed button exists for any category of questions, either top-level or drilled in. Look in the bottom of the right hand column.

    PS. I tried to comment as a guest so I could link to my LinkedIn profile (http://www.linkedin.com/in/bethrobinson) but got a Forbidden message and needed to use my Discus profile.

    • Beth – awesome additional fine points and tips – thanks

  • 1) Just because it isn’t necessarily a connection in your industry doesn’t mean anything on LinkedIn. Much like networking itself, you never know how one relationship can lead to one that benefits your business. Start with your easiest connections first — past and present co-workers, friends, family, etc. These are the people who can introduce you to others within their network, which is the power of referral from someone they know and trust.

    2) Use Linked In applications like Blog Link and SlideShare to provide greater depth and credibility to your page. Apps like these bring your expertise front and center for people viewing your page. To encourage interactivity, use the Polls app.

    3) A small business owner is constantly learning. One of the very best features I’ve enjoyed from LinkedIn is the Q&A feature. You can ask a question on anything related to your business (from “What’s the best time-tracking software you’ve used” to “what’s the most efficient way to generate leads.” But try not to take advantage of their generosity too much — people are there to give you free advice, not provide free work you should paying for like customized brand strategies, taglines, etc. On the other side of the equation, you can build credibility as an authority on your topic by answering these questions.

    Hope this helps! (And if it did, let’s connect on LinkedIn!

  • Hi John,

    Nice advice. We've been using these features on LinkedIn for a few months now and as a result have connected with some great people / participated in some great industry conversations.

    Another feature worth exploring is their poll tool. You can create and send polls to your networks for free, or send polls to a targeted community for a fee. We sent out a poll to a group of marketers and asked them how much money they're spending on experimentation right now. A great conversation about whether you should experiment with marketing techniques ensued.

    We've found LinkedIn to be a good place to build B2B relationships. On the other hand, when we want to connect to consumers we turn to Facebook and Twitter. (We're a new direct marketing company that uses direct mail, social media and voice to connect retailers with interested consumers – so we have to interface with both groups.)

    It's all about connecting (and sharing) with the right people in the right social spaces.

    @ Dukky

  • elevatingyourbusinesss

    I have a great suggestion on a process I use to save time sorting through all the linked in RSS feeds I subscribed to (I get close to 1000 answers/questions on these feeds a week, easy!) Read it here: http://www.coachmaria.com/blog/?p=180

  • flynpenoyer

    One real important sub point to the “give to get” suggestion is to make sure you don't solicit publicly or put any kind of “selling tone” into your posts.

    Even adding signatures can be a problem as many find them offensive. The last thing you want to do in a networking environment is to offend anyone.

  • vandy

    Great post. I'd not come across BlogLink before. Have now included our blog in my profile and it was really easy to do. Took a couple of minutes. Thanks for the pointer.

  • Thanks John. I particularly like the references in point 5 for the 3rd party applications. I like the ability to 'repurpose content'.

  • kturck

    I actually wrote some linkedin recommendations today because of this blog. People usually have to request recommendations, so needless to say they were very pleased!!

  • Most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. It works well for this because it is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. Great Tips!

  • I've made some good contacts by asking and answering questions. I have found, however, that most of the people doing the asking are people like me, not my target prospect. I will look into groups. Thanks.

  • A2ZMeetings

    John, you are amazing! I just did my first blog yesterday and I am learning all I know through people like you. Thank you so much for sharing. I will take these nuggets and work with them!

  • Thanks for the post about Linkedin. I have been trying to work on it more and more and trying to figure out how to get the most benefit from it. Thanks for sharing.

  • I think the Groups function is overrated. In the writing and marketing groups to which I belong, most of the “discussions” are people vainly shouting at the sea, trying to be heard. In most cases, the discussions are links to blogs, so the threads evolve outside of LinkedIn. There's nothing wrong with that, but I suspect LinkedIn was hoping that the back-and-forth would stay in their yard.

  • focuspointwebsolutions

    Thanks for these tips John. I've been working on my LinkedIn profile and trying to find ways to use it effectively. This post gave me some ideas and revealed somethings that I over looked. Keep up the good work.

  • These five tips are excellent for getting more Linkedin. Thanks for all your informations.

  • These five tips are excellent for getting more Linkedin. Thanks for all your informations.