Making your LinkedIn channel work for you

Imagine the big social media players transposed into characters from your high school yearbook. They’d probably look like this: Facebook would be the popular kid on campus, Twitter the class clown, Instagram the prom queen and LinkedIn…that’d be the nerdy kid sitting in the front of the class you always suspected you’d wind up working for someday.

LinkedIn might lack the dynamism of Facebook, the immediacy of Twitter and the visual intimacy of Instagram – but a shortage of flash doesn’t mean the not-so-social network isn’t a powerful tool for building your business.

Here are a few tips we at McGuffin have picked up that might help you and your business get a little more linked in through LinkedIn.

1. Get your MVPs on board

A robust, frequently updated company page is important, but people don’t network with companies – they network with people. A strong LinkedIn presence among your leadership and managers forms the most compelling and impressive portrait of your organization.Name a LinkedIn champion or two in your organization and task them with encouraging and teaching key players on your team to complete or update their profiles – an-out-of date or bare-bones profile suggests indifference to the way people increasingly do business. Go a step further and ask your thought leaders to get involved in LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry or expertise. Get together as a group and coordinate your efforts and strategies. Also urge leadership to connect with co-workers, any new business associates or potential clients/customers they might have met. The key is, stay engaged not just as individuals, but as a collective.

2. Use keywords

If you want people to find you and your team, be sure your profiles use the keywords that make you most searchable. You can perform a SEO keyword test using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function, which is also useful in researching people and organizations who are of interest to you.

3. Keep an eye on the competition, potential leads & potential hires

Who’s staffing up or staffing down? Who’s making major changes to their org charts? Who might be ready to hire you? Which job candidates might be the right fit for your organization? A thorough LinkedIn search can give you a remarkable amount of information about the people and organizations you’re interested in. Search by individual names but also by company name, job titles, relevant skills, job postings and more.

4. Maintain your “trusted connections”

If you know 200 to 250 people, they could potentially connect you to one million more. Every first-level contact you add brings dozens, if not scores, of second- and third-level connections. Conduct a review of those first-level connections on the regular basis — who are they connected to, who could they connect you to, what are your mutual points of connection? Your first-level contacts can open up a rich and virtually limitless vein of new business possibilities.

5. Connect personally

This is a seemingly small thing, but it’s important. If you want to connect with someone who’s not a close friend or business associate, be sure your invitation to connect doesn’t include the boilerplate LinkedIn greeting: “[NAME], please add me to your LinkedIn network.” Take a moment to write a subject line and a note that reminds your intended contact how and where you met, who you know in common, or why you’d like to stay in touch. Simply defaulting to the message “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” is not a compelling reason for someone to place you into a network he or she might have carefully cultivated.

Statistics source: Wayne Breitbarth, results of 2013 LinkedIn user survey completed by over 550 LinkedIn users