The professional networking site LinkedIn has over 40 million users in more than 200 countries. If you join LinkedIn and create a profile, you can expand your network by connecting with friends, co-workers, and former colleagues. As a professional social networking site, LinkedIn enables individuals to build and extend their “professional brand,” by showcasing their job experience, references, education, and awards. Not surprisingly, the site has become a go-to resource for recruiters, HR personnel, and job seekers alike.
But, when LinkedIn comes up amidst a conversation about social media marketing tools, many are left with only a limited understanding of the site’s potential. From our experience, we have found that LinkedIn is most effective for positioning yourself (or your client) as an expert resource in your industry and network.
Here’s how it works:
To successfully position yourself as an expert, you need to discover and join groups related to your industry and ones that your prospective clients are in. Life sciences consultant? You should join the “Life Sciences Professional Network” group, and if you’re following the latest trends, should also be an active member of “Life Sciences 2.0” (to name just a few relevant groups). LinkedIn groups are places for likeminded professionals to connect, ask questions, post articles, solve problems, and share best practices. If you offer group members valuable information by initiating and participating in discussions, or answering questions, you’ll effectively brand yourself as a knowledgeable expert.
Even better, develop and share informative content (e.g. whitepapers, wikis, webinars, blog posts) that directly addresses your prospective clients’ needs and pain points. Users who view your content will notice your name because they’ll want to learn who authored the resources. It’s likely that they’ll view your LinkedIn profile to see your job title and the company you work for to confirm you are a reliable source. By driving users to your LinkedIn profile, you brand yourself as a thought leader and increase awareness of your company, as well as your other active social media channels (i.e. your blog, Twitter feed, etc). LinkedIn users will make the connection that you and your company are experts in your field, and they’ll reach out to you directly to seek your advice.
The best way to share content on LinkedIn? Follow these steps:
1. To add the LinkedIn bookmark to your Firefox browser, click-and-drag the below “Share on LinkedIn” link to your tool bar.
2. Once the link appears on your toolbar, pull up the content you would like to share (i.e. a blog post, news article, podcast), and click on it
3. Choose the connections or groups you want to share with on LinkedIn
4. Your content will be posted to the “news” section of the LinkedIn groups you selected and distributed in the groups’ weekly digest e-mails
There you have it. Remember, when used properly, you’ll brand yourself as an expert. As with all social media channels, the ultimate goal here is to engage your target audiences and help your firm or your client to identify and nurture qualified business leads.
So have you had success using LinkedIn or another social media platform to position yourself as an expert? Please, share your experience! What worked? What didn’t?