LinkedIn 101

Along with Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is another popular social media site, mainly used for outreach. It’s an essential, low-maintenance tool for Outreach professionals even if all you do is a set up a simple profile, which is mainly an online version of your resume, as a way for you to be contacted.

If all you do is set up your name and address and accept connections from people you know, you’re at least making it easy for you and your colleagues to stay in touch after a move.

Building Your Network

As a LinkedIn member, you maintain a list of contact details (such as name, address, email, etc.) of your friends, colleagues, or anyone else you’d like to stay in touch with. These contacts are called Connections. You can invite anyone to become a connection.

Through your Connections, you can begin to build your contact network, comprised of your direct connections (1st degree), the connections of each of their connections (2nd degree) and their connections (3rd degree). 

One of your degree of connections can be used to gain an introduction to someone you wish to be introduced to. It can also be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one’s contact network. Healthcare employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates. As an Outreach professional, you can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of your Connections can introduce you. 

Company Research

LinkedIn also allows users to research organizations you may be interested in partnering or doing business with. Simply, type the name of the organization in the search box and you’ll be able to see relevant statistics about that organization, such as their employee size, revenues, the location of the company’s headquarters and offices, and a list of present, past, and former employees who are on LinkedIn.

Other Ways to Use LinkedIn

These are just some of the basic ways you can use LinkedIn. Jason Alba, CEO and creator of JibberJobber.com and author of I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?, offers six other advanced ways that LinkedIn can be an effective networking tool for you.

Create a LinkedIn Poll.This is a fairly new and limited feature in LinkedIn, but it has the advantage of notifying (softly, not via email) your first degree contacts by allowing you to post a poll. The poll will appear off to the corner of their LinkedIn landing page when they sign in. It’s a nonintrusive way to get your brand or offerings in front of them. You can do this as often as you want, since it’s not intrusive.

Join a Group. It’s like joining any message board or forum. You’ll need to request to be part of that group. Once you are a member, be sure to contribute to discussions or start a new discussion. But don’t spam. Be a part of the Group, don’t preach or pitch to the Group.

Start your own Group. When members join a Group they typically leave your image (logo or photo) on their own LinkedIn Profile landing page–this image usually points others back to your Web site. 

Change your status frequently. As with Twitter or Facebook, you can post a status update. Try to post regularly. Through a free application like ping.fm, you can write one status update which ping.fm then sends to any of the social media sites you belong to. Each of the social media sites also offers an application allowing you to tie in your Twitter tweets with Facebook and LinkedIn, and vice versa.

Give LinkedIn Recommendations regularly. Through this feature, you can write a recommendation or a testimonial for someone you worked with. It does wonders for your relationship, putting your ink on someone else’s Profile, and sometimes your Contacts reciprocate.

Browse network updates to see who you could or should communicate with. If you’re connected with that ideal prospect or customer, browse through their connections, you’re to find other prospects who you should be talking with.

Of course, the best way to learn more about LinkedIn and its wonderful features is to dive in and explore it yourself. 

Are you using LinkedIn? What are some of your tips and advice?

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