Week 7: Develop your Online Presence – LinkedIn

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn was launched in 2003 and currently has more than 200 million users in more than 200 countries who use it mainly for professional networking.

LinkedIn has more than 200 million members in over 200 countries and territories.[5] It is significantly ahead of its competitors Viadeo (50 million)[32]and XING (10 million). The membership grows by approximately two new members every second. About half of the members are in the United States and 11 million are from Europe.

In January 2013, the countries with the most LinkedIn users were:

  • United States with 74 million members
  • India with 18 million members
  • United Kingdom with 11 million members
  • Brazil with 11 million members
  • Canada with 7 million members

If you’re looking for freelance writing or consulting gigs or a full-time job, LinkedIn is a worthwhile place to spend your time. It’s also a good place to network if you’ve written (or plan to write) a book related to your career or business, or if you’re looking to give talks to community groups, etc. You can become active in forum discussions on relevant topics, and other users will see who you are and what you do. Since LinkedIn is more about networking than selling, you’ll want to be low-key about how you mention your book, products or services.

The first thing to consider is the quality of your profile. Start by filling out your profile and stuffing it with key words about what you do. Companies and publications that need your services search by key words for the type of freelancer or consultant they’re looking for. You should also consider naming your nearest major city, useful for people searching for someone local. Take the time to fill out your profile as fully as possible and you may find it the most effective page on LinkedIn for converting people into buyers.

Check who’s viewed your profile. A lot of people don’t realize you can get more information about who has been looking at your LI profile. If you’re only on the free level, sometimes it won’t show much — some of the information will be hidden. But sometimes, it will reveal contact names. If you see a name, you can send them a message: “Hi, were you looking for (your service)? I noticed you were looking at my profile. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!” If you have particular expertise relevant to their industry, mention that as well. You’ll get a lot of responses to this, as people will be amazed you knew they were checking you out.

Use the blog tool. This one’s fairly obvious — use LI’s BlogLink tool to pull your blog onto your LI profile page. That will make it also appear in the blogrolls of all your connections that use the blog tool, too. Hey presto: Instant promotion! And a great way to get attention for your blog.

Consider your previous connections who might lead you to new work. LI is the place to look up all your former employers. Search for them and ask to connect. Post a friendly hello, catch up, find out what they’re doing now. Do they need a job? Send them leads. Do they have a job? Maybe they can use you again, or know someone else using freelancers and could refer you.

Search for jobs. If you’re going to look at online job ads, LI is a great place to do it as an increasing number of their ads are exclusive to LI. Their ads cost money, and the companies tend to be high-quality. If you’re looking for freelance work, look at LI’s full-time job ads. The appearance of a full-time job ad often means a crisis situation — someone left and there’s a gap to be filled. Apply to any company of interest, and let them know how right you are for them.

You might want to consider InMail for prospecting. Sending a paid-level InMail on LI claims to have a response rate of 30 percent and up. In fact, InMail does so well that LI now guarantees you’ll get a response — or they give you another InMail message to send free. Sort of a no-lose proposition. Target your dream prospective clients, write your pitch, and then fire away on LI.

Another option is in-person networking. Many LI groups also meet in person. If you’re interested in small-business clients, these can be a gold mine. One of the best ways to make social media extra productive is to deepen those online connections by going offline. If you have a location-based LI group that isn’t meeting live, consider starting a live event and serving as host.

Think about your target market and search for groups of those people. You may not find gigs in groups, but the writer groups on LI are one of the best free places to discuss rates, negotiating, and other client issues. The biggest and busiest is LinkedIn Editors & Writers. There’s also Writeful Share, a group where people post overflow jobs and try to share leads. Active participation in groups where you share your expertise can also lead to some nice new traffic to your blog.

You can also answer and pose questions on LI’s main Answers tab. Yet another place on the platform to share your expertise and attract interest.

Also of interest: In November 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services on company profile pages; it also permitted LinkedIn members to “recommend” products and services and write reviews. So if you have a service or product to offer, consider starting a company profile page. It’s free.

Checklist:

If LinkedIn seems a good place for you to put some energy just now, write a list of 5 ways you could use it or, if you’re already on there, improve your use of it.
Make a note of when and for how long you will be active on the site, so you can fit it seamlessly into your day. Even ten minutes a day during the week could yield dividends.

If you have a service or product to offer, consider starting a company profile page.

There are plenty of women’s groups on LinkedIn. You might even want to start your own group.