Wendy Brache, Co-creator, SalesForceBranding.com
By Wendy Brache
One of the best ways to reap personal benefit from social media is to engage in a comprehensive online network. Online networking provides access to influential people we would not otherwise encounter, and is an integral component in increasing your online presence and creating your online brand.
LinkedIn is the leading professional networking tool in America. With over 50 million users, group networking, and recruiting opportunities, LinkedIn is the perfect reputation building tool and one-stop-shop for displaying your online resume. A fully optimized LinkedIn profile and sizable network creates profitable business and collaboration opportunities.
If you haven’t yet joined LinkedIn, you’re behind the curve—but it’s an easy and fast catch up, and if you follow the steps below, you will have a killer online network in 30 days or less.
After you join the free service (there’s no need to sign up for the paid version at this point), you’ll want to build a profile that makes you easily findable, shows proof of your expertise, and creates a foundation on which you can develop a large, high-quality network of professionals with whom you directly communicate on a regular basis.
- Upload a professional photo of yourself. In today’s isolated online world, people like to see faces. Choose a photo that presents you in a professional light – facing the camera, smiling and poised.
- Write good copy. Your “Summary” and “Specialties” sections are important areas in which you should use industry-specific keywords and phrases. Keywords boost the chances that employers searching within LinkedIn for specific skills and experience will find you. Make your profile that much more compelling by writing your Summary copy with “here’s how I can help you” statements.
- Build your network and engage in conversation by joining targeted LinkedIn groups. To get the most from your network, send invitations to past and present colleagues, associates, customers, prospects, partners, and previous and current employers. You’ll find a surprising number of individuals in professional online groups -- including The Women’s Conference LinkedIn Group. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect directly with them by monitoring and adding to discussion threads on hot button topics. Group activity provides the perfect pretext to reach out to members and build relationships.
- Get recommendations from past employers and colleagues. This is one of the easiest ways to prove you are a reliable, hard-working professional. LinkedIn even has a convenient “Request Recommendations” option below each of your past positions. LinkedIn offers suggested copy for your message, or you can personalize it with specifics, such as, “Donna, would you be willing to write a 2-3 sentence recommendation endorsing my project management of the XYZ project?” Alternatively, you can write a recommendation for someone in your network, and hope that they return the favor. A 3-5% recommendation rate is visual proof that you are a respectable employee.
- Become an expert. Scan the LinkedIn Q & A section for open questions where you can provide detailed insight. The best answers are awarded with an “Expert Answer” moniker highlighted on your profile, providing further proof of your expertise and representing you as a high-quality connection to others.
Social media can seem daunting and convoluted, but sites like LinkedIn provide us with the opportunity to take control of how the world sees us—to have power in how we position the specialized skill set, unique talents, and accumulated endorsements that make up our online professional identity.
Wendy Brache is the co-creator of SalesForceBranding.com. Sales Force Branding is a comprehensive program that differentiates corporate sales executives from the competition. As a senior consultant at Access Marketing Company, Wendy specializes in B2B Corporate Social Media. Her freelance writing has been featured in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, corporate blogs and newsletters, and on renowned websites, such as Chopra’s Intent.com and Denver’s GreatIdeasForKids.com.
Read Wendy Brache's first post in this series, 30 Days to a Killer Online Presence