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Bowling for Business: Everything but the Kitchen Link

Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands

The Top 10 Steps to Use LinkedIn for Business

This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on 10-05-09

I’m often on the Internet for work. Really…it’s for work. So it isn’t my fault that I was so engrossed in posting to social media accounts last week that I failed to wake up my 13-year-old daughter for school. At least that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.

Unfortunately, the argument didn’t hold much weight when Kaitlin bounded up the stairs at 9:30 with both barrels loaded, screaming, “Mom, what are you doing? Did you forget about me? You made me miss the bus.”

And then the bombshell, “Are you playing on your computer again?”

Now, admittedly, I spend a lot of time on my laptop. And when I’m not on it, I’m usually developing arthritic cramps in my fingers by typing on my tiny Crackberry keyboard. But there’s a reason for my obsession. Like most boutique advertising and public relations agencies, our firm is all about communication. We help people connect with current and potential customers and business associates by linking them with tools of the trade such as brochures, fliers, press releases and websites.

But my favorite method for communication is social media. I look forward to updating and reading posts and checking out photo uploads from friends on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. And, when it comes to business, it’s all about LinkedIn.

“What is it you do all day on the computer, anyway?” Kaitlin continued her somewhat justifiable tirade, while looking over my shoulder, “Are you on MySpace?”

“No. This is for professionals. It’s called LinkedIn,” I countered.

“Looks like MySpace to me,” she said. “Photos, groups, comments…”

“Well, it’s not for teenagers. Most of the people on LinkedIn are 40 years old and have household incomes of more than $100,000 a year,” I explained. “Besides, look at the pictures. People are wearing suits. Their posts are boring. And very few of them are smiling.”

“True,” she admitted. “So it’s sort of like MySpace for old people.”

To end the argument, I relented, “Exactly.”

But, in reality, there is a lot more to LinkedIn than my daughter’s rudimentary assessment. Launched in May, 2007, the site is the largest professional network in the world, with 25 million members representing 150 industries.

According to Krista Canfield, public relations manager for LinkedIn, “Basically what LinkedIn does is [to] help professionals accelerate their success.”

Consider this assessment of the site by the folks who brought us the Social Media Bible, “Anytime there is a tool that millions of people in one place at one time all with common interests are clamoring to use, you, as a businessperson, need to understand and take part of it.”

But where do you begin?

The Top 10 Things You Should be doing on LinkedIn

  1. Create a profile. Like other networking sites, LinkedIn has a user-friendly platform. So you don’t have to be a computer prodigy to follow the step-by-step tutorial in order to set up your free account. Just login to LinkedIn and get started.
  2. Complete your profile. Incomplete profiles send the wrong message. Make sure you list current and previous employment, education, honors and awards, even if you are not looking for a job.
  3. Invite friends and associates. LinkedIn is all about connections. Remember the classic Faberge Organic Shampoo commercial where Heather Locklear (yes, it was her) asked us to tell two friends about our shampoo so they would tell two friends…and so on, and so on? With LinkedIn, you will be able to connect with “first-tier” associates as well as connections’ connections, and so on, and so on…
  4. Seek Introductions. People debate the ideal number of connections. Some say that a list of more than 100 is too difficult to manage while others argue the more, the better. While the jury is still out, according to noted author and social media guru, Guy Kawasaki, “People with more than 20 connections are 34 times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.”
  5. Write Recommendations. Take a few minutes to recommend your colleagues. When you post your referral, LinkedIn will send it for approval, asking the person you recommended to write a recommendation for you. This is worth the investment because, as I’ve learned from my membership in the SBBE chapter of BNI, the largest networking group in the real world, givers always gain.
  6. Join groups. Whatever your expertise or interest, a LinkedIn group exists. And you can join up to 50 of them. I recommend you connect with a couple of key professional groups as well as alumni groups, both from college as well as high school, as well as past companies. When your membership is approved, you get to display the group logo on your profile. How cool is that?
  7. Invite group members to join your network. Once you’re admitted to a new group, seek out strategic connections inside that group.
  8. Micro-blog. Called “Status Updates,” LinkedIn allows for short posts. Most people learned, early on, not to use this feature to report their breakfast menu. Instead, use it to provide industry info and relevant links. Posting once or twice a day is generally considered polite etiquette in LinkedIn Land.
  9. Look for a job, a sale or a partnership. According to communications guru Guy Kawasaki, “Most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to sell their product or service, form a partnership, or land a job.
  10. Participate in discussions. Follow group discussions. This is your chance to share your two cents and to learn from others. You can also take advantage of your connections by asking for advice.

So, on my next status update, I’m going to pose a question, “Where is the best place to buy an alarm clock for a sleepy teenager?”

Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.

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Bowling for Business: How to Do Social Media

I’m sitting here at Cal Baptist University. We’re discussing blogging and other elements of social media. The big question is, since our time is limited, where should we devote the majority of our social media marketing efforts?

The jury is still out. But I notice that most of my PRSA peers are focusing their efforts as am I…on FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn. At this point, most early adopters have moved past MySpace and are playing with micro-blogging platforms.

Based on the overwhelming success of Twitter, I think these micro-blog platforms might start multiplying like rabbits. The reason? Few of us have time to communicate with more than 140-character bursts.

For those of you on the fence, when it comes to blogging, now is the time! And here are some simple steps to get you started. The following is my adaptation of the social media worksheet from the seminar, which should walk you through the basics of setting up your very first blog post.

linkedin

My thanks to Cal Baptist’s Karen Bergh and Sherelle Salaver, our course instructors. They condensed some complicated theorems into digestible tidbits. And they remain my social media mavens.

Positioning Statement

  1. What is the brand of/blog about?
  2. What will it offer?
  3. How is this different or beter than what others are offering?

Who are my Clients/Customers?

  1. Target market?
  2. Who are our competitors?
  3. What are they offering?
  4. To whom? Where?
  5. Where do market opportunities exist?

What can I improve on?

  1. Which markets will be most profitable for you?
  2. What are my competitive advantages?

Where is my audience?

  1. What are their interests?
  2. What are they reading?
  3. Where?
  4. How often?
  5. What do I want them to do?
  6. What is my niche?

Goals: Metrics/How can I measure my success?

  1. Increased brand awareness
  2. Reputation management
  3. Improved SEO
  4. Increased Relevant Visitor Traffic
  5. Improve Sales for a Product or Service

Goals: Posts

  • Create content that inspires, informs, or persuades your audience.
  • Invite participation at an event.
  • Use surveys and votes to engage your audience and gather data.
  • Follow-up after an event.
  • Create value for on-demand access

Why does it matter?

Communication is the cornerstone of the human condition. And blogging is a way to extend your voice. Give it a try.