The whole point of using social media as a professional business tool is to better help you grow and spread your professional brand. While this can and should be done with a variety of social networking platforms, LinkedIn has become the most effective and far-reaching professional application.
With over 43 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn represents 170 different industries and helps businesses accomplish their goals. Whether you’re a job seeker, entrepreneur, consultant, or a business looking to create buzz, LinkedIn gives you an advantage in your career, and can be one of your most valuable assets.
The key then, is knowing how to successfully use LinkedIn to create and market your professional brand. The major difference between other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter is that LinkedIn is not instantaneous. Your long-term upkeep is much less but for it to be a valuable piece of the social media puzzle, your profile needs to be updated, error-free, and effective.
Using LinkedIn for your overall business strategy and building up your individual brand image is essentially the same. No matter your goals, LinkedIn is at its best when you build contacts, network, and interact with other business professionals.
Most LinkedIn users are probably already doing many of the necessary things to strengthen their brand, but for those that are not, here are five easy ways to build your brand through LinkedIn:
1. Make Yourself Accessible—If you don’t have a visible presence on LinkedIn, then it’s really of no use to you. To really be a helpful social network you want to make yourself accessible to others as an integral part of the overall network. There are a few easy ways to do this. The easiest way is to create a custom URL and then promote it by adding it to your signature in e-mails or including it on resumes, blogs, or other works. This way colleagues, friends, and potential clients can easily access your profile.
2. Build and Market Your Brand—It’s great if your are able to drive traffic to your LinkedIn, profile but if its not attractive and doesn’t promote the individual or company then most people will pass on by. For starters, leave your e-mail address at the end of summaries or experiences because people cannot add you without it. Try and build up a good amount of recommendations, this will make you more attractive to potential contacts and more valued. Make sure your summaries, experiences, and headlines are reflective of your current business goals and will help you to accomplish them.
3. Be Participative in Discussions—If someone in a group proposes a question, don’t be afraid to answer. This only makes you look knowledge and up to date on the industry. If you have something valuable to offer, answering a question will position you as a contributor and a good source to network with.
4. Put Time Into Your Profile—I guess you could say this is similar to marketing your brand, but if your going to use LinkedIn to network and connect with others, you have to spend time on it. Don’t have incomplete information or missing elements. Also, just because you make your profile visible and accessible doesn’t necessarily mean others will make the effort. You have to spend time networking with others and searching for valuable additions to your business network. Also, be open to new contacts or people, that is the whole point of networking.
5. Network With Yourself—Like I said before, LinkedIn is one of the most effective professional business networks when it comes to social media. With that said, it becomes that much stronger as part of your larger brand image. Connect your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles together and present a unified representation of yourself. Updating all of your statuses through one spot or using one account to make the others visible can easily do this.