Tuesday, June 29, 2010

9 Essential Ways LinkedIn Improves My Business

Posted by Sarah Mitchell

Are you getting the most of LinkedIn? I’m always surprised when I hear people say they need to think about opening an account on LinkedIn. I understand the reservations professional people have about creating a social media persona. When it comes to LinkedIn, the benefits far outweigh the perceived risk associated with many online tools.

Defining Feature
For those of you that don’t know, the curriculum vitae (resume) of the account holder anchors each account. LinkedIn is a professional networking tool in the purest sense. The architecture of the site ensures your experience will be relevant to you because it’s based on professional accomplishments, not pop culture or social chatter.
Fun Facts
LinkedIn is one of the granddaddies of social media, launching in May 2003. It has grown from strength to strength in the seven years since its inception.
  • LinkedIn has over 70 million members.
  • Membership is across more than 200 countries.
  • LinkedIn supports multiple languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • More than half the accounts are from outside the USA.
  • Executives from every Fortune 500 company are LinkedIn members.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second.
Practical Application
Still not convinced? Here are some of the ways I’ve found benefit from LinkedIn:
1. Preserve Your Network
LinkedIn gives you the ability to establish an online repository for your business network. You never have to worry about keeping your address book up-to-date. You can throw your business card folio and rolodex out the window.
2. Find Former Colleagues
We all plan to stay in touch when a co-worker leaves or you change jobs. It’s not always easy and a busy schedule often gets in the way of good intentions. I’ve found or been found by dozens of people I’ve lost touch with as we’ve moved companies, countries and jobs.
3. Find Good People
One of the best things I’ve ever done is use LinkedIn to find prospective business partners. Since accounts are based on a resume, it’s easy to find the people you want to meet or work with. The search function is comprehensive allowing you to zero in on a specific location, company, school or industry. It's no wonder recruiters view LinkedIn and social media channels as essential tools for vetting candidates.
4. Free Company Listing
LinkedIn lets you enter your company details giving you a free listing connected to their powerful search feature.
5. Research
The Company Buzz feature keeps track of what’s being said about your specified keywords on Twitter. It’s a great way to keep your eye on the competition or track what’s being said about your own company.
6. Find Events
The Events feature will show you all the events being attended by people in your wider network. It’s a great way to keep track of what’s happening around town.
7. Get Recommendations
Word of Mouth referrals are the lifeblood of small business. I’ve yet to meet a person that didn’t appreciate having a colleague or client giving a recommendation on his or her work. LinkedIn makes it easy to request recommendations and makes it super easy to give one, too.
8. Integration with other Social Media Tools
LinkedIn is continually updating their product to provide a clearer picture of the professional qualifications of their members. Slideshare, Amazon.com, Wordpress and Twitter all have useful integration features with LinkedIn.
9. Special Interest Groups
Perhaps the most powerful feature of LinkedIn is the multitude of special interest groups. These groups allow you to meet other professionals with similar interests and participate in worldwide discussions. The discussion groups also have a feature allowing for sharing of news articles. It’s a great place to stay informed, get the opinion of your peers and network with a global community of like-minded people.
My Recommendation
LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for people from any profession. Participating in LinkedIn is a low risk proposition due to the career focus attached to the membership profiles. I consider it one of my key strategic tools for running a successful business. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to join.
What benefits have you received from your LinkedIn activity? What features do you use the most often?

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