A Valuable Link

A Valuable Link

LinkedIn is just another social networking tool. That’s what people may think, but it has the potential to be so much more. What I keep hearing from people is that they say they keep getting LinkedIn invites. That is a clear indication of how it is becoming a legitimate business tool, one that most business professionals need to more effectively leverage.

LinkedIn has over 75 million members, with a new member joining approximately every second. When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can them form professional connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, liking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts.

You need to view this as a business opportunity site. In actuality, there are companies of all sizes that are a part of LinkedIn. Why so much participation by the business community? You can collaborate and share ideas on this site. This is not facebook. This is not about what everyone did this weekend. This is not chit chat about what’s your favorite food. This is a professional way to network and grow your business.

Here’s what I mean:
First, LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that allows you to fully leverage contacts and relationships that you have built throughout the years. Professional contacts that have expertise and experience that can add value to you and your business. Continuing to develop these relationships can provide valuable industry insight and a pulse of what’s happening in your professional circles. It may even provide you with the opportunity to assist others with their career goals.

Second, it’s a way to build your credibility. If you do regular updates on LinkedIn it can keep you and your organization top of mind. It can help you to provide a wealth of information to others and make you a trusted source. Providing thought leadership in a simple and dynamic way.

Third, LinkedIn can be used as a competitive tool to see what your competitor is doing. Is a competing company hiring? Are they firing? Do you see your competitor bringing on a lot of .NET specialists? Check them out on LinkedIn and gather business intelligence.

Fourth, you can also use it as a way to gather opinions from people that you value. Let them weigh in and share best practices with you. When we talk about where things are going and how quickly things are moving, this is a wonderful tool to develop relationships. You can foster business relationships in a professional way without all that other clutter. I’d like to reiterate that talk on LinkedIn is not dialogue about who is your favorite football team, it’s about sharing business ideas.

Fifth, LinkedIn can also get you new business, and enable you to do some due diligence. Use it as a research tool. Use it to announce what you’re doing at your company. Talk about you company regularly. You can get some unexpected leads and business opportunities.

Lastly, it can be a great recruitment tool. As companies grow taping their LinkedIn network can help them find a person with a skill set. You can also search for people who are looking for a job. Who’s in the market? Would that person be an asset to your team? Without LinkedIn you might not have even known that person was unemployed.

In terms of networking with peers, there are also groups that you can join. You should find like-minded people and start a conversation. Everyone wins.

I hear a lot of people say that LinkedIn is just an electronic rolodex. I disagree. It’s a business opportunity generator when used well so get started and get linked in today.