Social Media: How to Maximize Use of Linked In

Linked In was my first big foray into the adventure that is social media and that was a trip I took thanks to a PWAC (Periodical Writer’s Association of Canada) workshop. One year ago social media expert and writer Dawn Boschcoff came to London and gave a great presentation about the evolution of media. Me, being an old media gal, well let’s just say I had a lot to learn and the best way to do that, with respect to social media, is generally just to wade into the waters. That’s what I did as soon as Dawn’s words settled. For a time I flailed about but then I started to enjoy the swim and well now I am here to pass on swimming lessons to you.
First up, Linked In. Consider this the office. Linked In, can be like the virtual office, a web site for your resume and a networking tool. It is a great tool for many. Mashable has reported Linked In to be growing at an even faster rate than any other social site out there. It still falls behind Twitter and Facebook in terms of sheer numbers, which let’s face it for consumers and brands, can mean customers you can easily converse with and market to. But the fastest growing social media site cannot be ignored. And this industry is frankly all about trending and keeping up with what’s next. If you are a business or a business person and you aren’t yet using Linked In, then you are losing opportunities. Opportunities to work, to network and to convert people to customers or colleagues. With a few tips you can maximize your use of this service.
This is my tip sheet for Linked In. Where I have used sources I will refer to them as credit should be acknowledged ethically in the world of social media.

1. Professional Tone: Your tone should always be professional on Linked In as if you were in your own office. Linked In is not like Facebook or Twitter or MySpace.

2. Picture: Creating a profile is simple. Start with the picture. Geoff Evans, a social media coach, and presenter at Podcamp 2010, stresses the importance of professionalism. Some make the mistake of using a picture of their company logo or a picture of themselves with their children. While there is a place for that in social media, it isn’t on Linked In. Whenever posisble pick something that is accurate and not dated either. Ideally a person meeting you at a networking function should be able to identify you from the headshot.
3. Word choice: Your headline should be strong and yet it should also convey what it is you do for your company. For instance I started with Paula Schuck Freelance in my headline. Geoff Evans notes this and other terms like cofounder/president etc. are ineffective and convey nothing about what you actually do. Think action words and think up a quick little blurb or elevator speech to capture why someone should hire you. Visit my profile for more information and to see how this is done. I changed some words to read active, as in: “I make your documents flawless.” “I coach parents to engage school supports.” etc.

4. Request recommendations: Recommendations on Linked In are very important. Ask some of your previous clients to write you a recommendation. Advise them of key points you want to make if you wish a specific wording. For instance, a bricklayer might ask that their recommendation hit on professionalism, price and esthetics or customer service. For the Linked In page you need to get your recommendation statistic to 100 %. This I learned from Dawn Boschcoff. You can pick and choose which recommendations you feature or accept, but this number should not be less than 100 %.

5. Engage an audience: Join groups that fit your interests and field. Create your own, if you want. It is a simple process. Also ask questions or start surveys that bring people to you to ask a question or communicate an answer. Social media should be a conversation.

6. Follow a company: This is relatively new, but if you wish to approach a company about a future job or training you want to offer you should be well informed. Follow them and get the latest news.

7. Connections: Be careful. Only seek connections with close colleagues and people that will accept. To blindly link up with people that you found on someone else’s list of connections is considered too aggressive and also can cause your profile to be shut down.

8. Use some of the tools: Things like Trip-It can be excellent networking tools. If you hook them up and let others know when you might be at a conference in Columbus, OHIO for instance, you may be able to meet with a connection who also is passing through the city. Using the presentations tool can help book a job if you are a presenter.

9. Use the Reading List strategically. Don’t pull a Mike Harris and advise the world you like to read Mr. Silly. If the aim of your Linked In profile is to network in social media, for instance, then start reading The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani. Be smart. Your kid’s books probably aren’t interesting to others unless perhaps you write them or edit them.

10. Consider Linked In your electronic brochure. Be smart, be genuine and truthful and don’t leave your profile unfinished. Personalize the public profile portion at bottom of the page where it reads public profile. Complete and make it yours. Mine is now

If you wish to visit or connect on Linked In, see Paula Schuck and ask to connect with me. Or from the side of my blog click on the tiny Linked In logo.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.