3 important principles for getting the most out of LinkedIn

I wrote this column for the August issue of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce’s Emphasis magazine. If you’re new to LinkedIn or looking to make better use of the site, here are a few keys to success that may deserve your attention.

3 important principles for getting the most out of LinkedIn

This has been a huge year for LinkedIn. In March, the site reached 100 million members, and in May, LinkedIn became the first major social media site to go public. Even as LinkedIn makes headlines, however, many users aren’t sure what all the fuss is about. They sign up, create a profile, add a few connections and then…well, for many, that’s the end of the story. They simply can’t see why LinkedIn deserves their attention.

The truth is, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for anyone whose success depends upon their professional relationships. Whether you’re looking to grow in your career, grow your business, or make a name for yourself in an industry or a niche, LinkedIn can help you reach your goals. To make the most of your time, there are a few important principles to remember:

  • Connect only with those you know. Many people measure their social media success based on the number of connections, friends or followers they have. Quality, however, is much more important than quantity—and this is especially true on LinkedIn. Connect only with those you have already done business with, or with whom you have mutual trust. In doing so, you’ll spend more time enhancing the relationships that matter most instead of spreading yourself too thin. Think of it as truly connecting with people, instead of simply adding up the numbers as a means of simply collecting people.
  • Update your status at least once a week. Many LinkedIn users believe their profile is the key to their success on LinkedIn, but it’s not as valuable as one of the simplest features on LinkedIn: the status update. When you update your status on LinkedIn, it automatically appears in your contacts’ news feed—the first thing they see when they log on. That’s another chance for your contacts to think of you and better understand what you do. The key is to keep the conversation focused on your professional life and to use the status update judiciously. Update it no more than once a day, but no less than once a week.
  • Be a resource to your connections. As it is with real-world, networking, LinkedIn is most effective when you use it to help others. Don’t overtly sell your product or service; instead, understand what your audience needs and what you can do for them. LinkedIn provides ample opportunities to do so: responding to questions using features such as LinkedIn Answers, participating in Groups or simply sharing insight and advice from your area of expertise. Once you establish yourself as a trusted resource, your audience will be eager to connect with you.

As LinkedIn continues to grow, it will only become more powerful. If you’re not already a LinkedIn member, now is a great time to join. And if you’re already a member, consider investing more time on LinkedIn. Your profile is just the beginning, and the opportunities are almost endless.

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