LinkedIn: The New Hotness
It seems stodgy old LinkedIn is getting a resurgence as people begin to see it as a viable, more controlled and private alternative to services like Facebook. In part it is because they have added to many useful features, and in part it is because of the backlash from social media users on how they want their data used.
Own Your Data
With LinkedIn, you can export your data. This is a huge deal for businesses and anyone who wants to own their information. Being able to take the connections you make on LinkedIn with you in a CSV file and import them into your CRM program is a huge deal. It’s all about owning your data. How do you do this? Just head over to your My Connections section under Contacts, then scroll down – you’ll see Export Connections as a little blue link under the contact names.
Importing your contacts is easy too – this means you can consolidate two ways – either out from LinkedIn to your CRM program or to Gmail or whatever you use, or in from another program’s exported CSV file to LinkedIn. If you do both, your network on LinkedIn will increase faster, and be more in tune with your existing network.
You can use the LinkedIn Answers feature to gather knowledge when need help, and also to demonstrate your knowledge of a topic when others need help. Some folks think that the Answers section is a great place to market their business by intruding on question streams. This isn’t kosher, and will encourage folks to flag you as spam to the LinkedIn powers that be, and to stop listening to you – that hardly helps your business.
You can also use LinkedIn Groups to create a community around your event, organization or cause. Within the group you can build a cohesive community with news feeds, discussions and a living version of Q&A that is a bit more effective and controlled than LinkedIn Answers. On a group page you can moderate interactions to keep out the irrelevant marketing that people like to toss onto a LinkedIn wall.
Create Corporate Following
By having a page for your company for folks to follow, you can drive awareness for your company as well. This helps people get to know you, your employees and what your company is about. It’s a nice way to be informative and do a bit of passive marketing. People appreciate being able to “follow” you and get corporate news without having to connect.
Live testimonials are a great feature of LinkedIn. I’ve taken to asking folks at the end of presentations and in emails to click the recommendation button if they liked what they learned. this keeps my testimonials current and doesn’t require the client or attendee writing a letter or sending a long email. It’s online, instant and easy. Id on’t reciprocate for every recommendation, but I do try to do my fair share of sharing the love around. If you like someone’s work – let them know!
These are just four simple ways to improve LinkedIn and control how much you want to share and connect using the free version of LinkedIn’s service. If you need more connections and the ability to connect people to each other or to fill positions for your HR department, you can upgrade to the paid plan and get more connections via InMail, LinkedIn’s mail system. For most folks, though? The free version is just fine.