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Mastering LinkedIn

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For years many of us didn't pay a lot of attention to LinkedIn, but in the last two years this site has grown to 161 million professional users, of which most are men. Though LinkedIn's primary base is in the United States, the site is seeing traffic from all over the world. In a recent article, Forbes called it the "must have" in corporate recruiting. But what if you're not looking for a job or interested in hiring, can LinkedIn still benefit you? Yes. Let me explain why.
LinkedIn will never be Facebook, nor does it want to be. While Facebook offers a variety of ways to share news both in personal and professional formats, LinkedIn is much more buttoned down and professional. The site is designed for business networking only, so save those new puppy pictures for your personal Facebook profile.
What LinkedIn Offers

With LinkedIn you can get an account for free, or you can pay a small monthly fee for an expanded account and access to members. With the paid subscription, you can reach members who aren't in your network with LinkedIn's email system called InMail. For now though, we're going to focus on the free profiles.
Getting Set up on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is really an online resume, it's a place to showcase all of your talents, skills, and products or services.
Below your profile will be your summary. This is important and will likely change often as you change, enhance and grow your business. I recommend using keywords in this area so people can easily find you when they are searching for professionals on LinkedIn. Below the summary is an area for specialties. Here is where keywords really come in handy too. As you're putting this together, keep in mind how people search you. What words do they use? You should be using those words, too. Finally, be sure to make your profile public. You'll have the option of keeping it private but I don't recommend it.
Marketing Tips for LinkedIn

* Be the Expert: People love working with experts. Position yourself as an expert. Really showcase your expertise. You can do this not only on your profile but by joining LinkedIn groups and answering questions and posting helpful information. You should also visit the LinkedIn answers section and respond to members' questions. It's a fantastic way to network within LinkedIn. Ready to join some groups? Head on over to www.linkedin.com/groupsDirectory to find more folks to network with.

* Get Recommendations: Another fun piece to LinkedIn is the ability to get recommendations from people you've worked with or done business with. I suggest that you gather as many recommendations as you can within LinkedIn. It can really help enhance your page.

* Find People to Network With: When you find members you want to add to your connections, you can send them a quick note in LinkedIn. LinkedIn's default message reads: "I'd like to add you to my professional network." I highly encourage you to personalize this. Just a sentence or two is fantastic, when you send a slightly more personal note, it feels like you've done your homework and aren't just adding connections for the sake of growing your numbers.

* Update Your Status: Whenever you update your status on LinkedIn, it will also let you send these updates to the group or groups you belong to.
Sharing Information on LinkedIn and Becoming an Expert

Sharing Information: Since LinkedIn recently broke up with Twitter (meaning you can no longer use Twitter to feed your status updates), you'll need to find other ways to share content. You can head to: http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=application_directory to find all sorts of applications like SlideShare (which we'll talk about in a minute) and a WordPress app that lets you run your blog posts through LinkedIn. This is a great way to keep content moving on your LinkedIn profile!
SlideShare: If you have lots of presentations, or even a few, a great way to share them is via SlideShare.com. You can activate the app on LinkedIn and any slides you upload to SlideShare will get shared there, too. SlideShare is a great tool anyway because it really grabs the attention of consumers looking for content. If you do a lot of speaking and even if you don't, create PowerPoint shows and upload them there to teach or share insights!
Groups: I've already talked about this but it's worth mentioning again. LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic way of networking with others in your market. Join a few groups and start following the conversation. You can also post content to these groups and it's important to stay active on them as much as you can.
More LinkedIn Tips

* Keep your status updated, according to a recent report by Lab42 only one-third of LinkedIn members visit the site each day. This means that the people who stay active remain in the feeds.

* Comment on profile updates of people or companies you follow. If you can do this once a day, great, if not a few times a week is a great way to stay top-of-mind.

* Keep building contacts: You should do this daily and at the very least, weekly. Your objective on LinkedIn is to keep the new connections flowing. LinkedIn continually makes recommendations on your page so be on the lookout there, too. Most of the time their recommendations are pretty spot on.

* Be active later in the day: Studies have shown that activity on LinkedIn peaks in the afternoon and evenings (for those accessing the site on mobile) so plan your updates accordingly.

* LinkedIn events are also great marketing tools, you can use these for live events as well as virtual programs, webinars, tutorials, the ideas are really endless. You can find LinkedIn events here: http://blog.linkedin.com/2011/11/09/new-linkedin-events/
Making the most of LinkedIn isn't hard, it just takes a bit of effort and a different approach than Facebook or Pinterest. But, if used correctly, this professional site can benefit you in some fantastic ways. Good luck!

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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