LinkedIn was the very first Social Networking website. Although it often gets overlooked by businesses today, and doesn’t receive the status that FaceBook and Twitter receives, it is important for businesses to include LinkedIn into their marketing mix.
LinkedIn is considered the premier Social Networking website for business professionals. It is more than a place to perform job searches and find employees. From the beginning LinkedIn has focused on business networking. While many other social networking websites have left their original niches to gain a broader appeal, LinkedIn has remained faithful to their original purpose and has remained focused on business networking.
The power of LinkedIn is that business professionals tend to spend their social media time on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the largest Business to Business Network – it’s how you’re viewed professionally. All the top executives and high-end clients spend time here. Executives from every Fortune 500 company are found on LinkedIn and 40% of LinkedIn users make over $100,000. Anyone who wants to network with like minded business people tends to gravitate towards LinkedIn.
The idea behind LinkedIn is your connections. When trying to understand the LinkedIn structure think in terms of the Kevin Bacon game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” also known as “Six Degrees of Separation.” In the game you start with an actor or actress and find someone who they starred with in a movie. Then find the people who they starred with until you find a connection to Kevin Bacon through six or less people. Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is on average no more than six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.
LinkedIn only goes to 3 steps of separation. They are called your First Level Connections, Second Level Connections, and your Third Level Connections. Your First Level Connections are all the people who you personally know. Your Second Level Connections are all the people that they know who are not already one of your First Level Connections. Your Third Level Connections are, of course, all the people that your Second Level Connections know who are not already one of your First or Second Level Connections.
When you first set-up all the people you know, LinkedIn automatically makes all the Second and Third Level Connections. By connecting with around 100 people you know, you can easily have thousands of Second Level Connections and hundreds of thousands if not millions of Third Level Connections.
The idea behind LinkedIn is that you tell all your friends (your First Level Connections) something important, such as you are running a new promotion at your store. They in turn tell all their friends (your Second Level Connections) and they tell their friends (your Third Level Connections). After all isn’t that the way real life happens. You tell your friend something, and they go to a party and see their friends and they tell them what you told them. And they tell their friends.
LinkedIn allows you to do this, only much faster. You can announce something to all your friends and business associates all at the same time and instantly they tell all their friends and business associates and they tell all their friends and business associates. So all you need to do is share something with your 100 or so close friends and business associates, and soon thousands and then millions of business minded people will have a chance to hear your message. It’s like Word of Mouth Advertising throughout the business community On Steroids!
Your Profile - The Heart of LinkedIn
Like with most other Social Media platforms, with LinkedIn you start by creating a Personal Profile about you, the individual. You are NOT a jewelry store. You are a person who happens to own or manage a jewelry store.
As you develop your profile LinkedIn keeps a running tally of how complete your profile is, so that you can see your progress and what you have left to complete. You want your profile to be 100% completed. To do this you need to include the following:
- Your picture. This needs to be a picture of YOU! Don’t upload a picture of jewelry, your store front, or some cute graphic. Remember this is a professional business network and you want to present yourself as professional as possible.
- Your current position. This is where you get to state that you work for or own a jewelry store.
- At least two past positions. If possible list jewelry related positions as this helps build your authority status within the industry.
- Information about your education.
- A summary of your background and experiences. While you want to include information about your jewelry related background, don’t make it exclusively about jewelry. You are more than just a jeweler. Add in other information about yourself to make it sound like a real person.
- Details about your specialties. As with your background summary, if applicable add information from outside the jewelry industry in addition to your jewelry specialties.
- Plus to complete your profile you need at least three recommendations from other LinkedIn users.
Once you have completed all of the above on your Professional Profile, LinkedIn will proclaim that your profile is complete! However, just because LinkedIn says it is complete, don’t stop there. The key to a successful LinkedIn platform is Profile Optimization.
Placing your keywords strategically throughout your profile will help you to be found for the items you want to be found for. A LinkedIn profile can appear in Google search results. When someone is looking for jewelry in your area, your LinkedIn profile has a very good chance to appear in the results if you have optimized it with your keywords properly.
The five best places to add your keywords are:
- Your Headline
- Your Current Work Experience
- Your Past Work Experience
- Your Summary
- Your Specialty Areas
LinkedIn allows you to place up to three links to other websites in your profile. You want to be certain to use all three. The first should be a link to your store’s website. This provides an easy way to get others on LinkedIn to visit your store website. In addition it is a high quality link that will help your store’s website rank higher in search results. The other two links can be to your store’s Blog, YouTube channel, FaceBook business page, Twitter account, or other webpage about your store that you want to promote.
Make certain to customize your links. Click on ‘Other’ in the drop-down menu where you place your links and type in a description for each of the links. For example, instead of calling the link to your store’s website “Our Website” or some other non-descript name, call it “Your City’s Premier Jeweler.” This not only makes it more inviting for others to click on, it adds your keywords to the “anchor text” of the link creating more value to the search engines.
Be creative and add keyword rich titles for all three of your links. If you find that nobody is clicking on them you can always go back and change the description at a later time.
Currently there are 19 different LinkedIn applications for your profile. Adding these to your profile will help customize it and make it more effective.
The two I like the most are:
• The Twitter App - With this app you can add your twitter feed so that your tweets come directly into LinkedIn. You can have all of your tweets imported or you have the option to add only certain tweets.
• The WordPress App - This app imports the feed from your WordPress Blog directly into LinkedIn. When you create a new post on your Blog, all your LinkedIn connections will know about it. The title of your Blog post will appear in LinkedIn as a hot link. Your connections can read your blog title and if interested click on it and they will be taken to your Blog to read the entire article you posted.
By adding Apps to your profile you can personalize it, and by integrating your other social media websites together you create a powerful network of websites. By connecting your social networks together you not only reach more people with your message, you save time by not having to log into each social media website separately and repost your information.
Another feature you can add to your profile is Sections. You can find the Sections Feature when you edit your profile. Scroll down your profile and click on “Add Sections”. Currently there are five Sections you can add to enhance you professional profile. They are; Certifications, Languages, Patents, Publications, and Skills. This is a great way to add information about you and help establish your authority status.
Once you have set up your profile, LinkedIn, by default, will assign your profile a URL consisting or random letters and numbers. You can create a vanity URL for your profile so that it will be easier for you to share with your friends, colleagues, and customers. In addition the vanity URL will make it easier to link to your profile and for the search engines to find it.
To do so click on “Edit Profile” under the drop-down menu for Profile. Then scroll down to “Public Profile” and you will see the URL for your Profile Page. Click on “Edit” next to the URL. On the page you are taken to scroll down to where you see “Your Current URL” in the right hand column. Click “Customize your public profile URL” to make changes to it.
LinkedIn allows users to create a Company Page. Here you can list information about your company including a feed from your Blog and other RSS feeds. Recently they added some new features.
There is a New Product and Service feature where you can showcase different products and services you offer. In addition to text descriptions and pictures of your products, you can also add videos showing your products or services in action.
A valuable new feature is Recommendations. Your customers can now recommend one of your products or services and that recommendation will go out to all their connections in their next LinkedIn updates. Plus the recommendation will appear on your company page next to the product or service they recommend.