An Executive’s Guide to Using Linkedin

by Jon Burgess MBA – RedFusion Media, Inc. 7/24/12

What is LinkedIn used for?

In the simplest terms, LinkedIn is a Web 3.0 Rolodex, meaning it is a living document with social interaction. It is a great place to keep your business contacts, so that when they move to a new job, you’re still connected. Of the social media platforms, LinkedIn is the most important for Business to Business (B2B), sales, industrial or niche market organizations.

In addition, LinkedIn is a great place to follow authoritative people in your industry. Knowing what leaders and even your competitors are doing can sometimes be more valuable than the connectivity that LinkedIn gives you. As you become more comfortable with social media, you too should focus on being a authoritative person, or “thought leader” in your industry.

What you SHOULD do in LinkedIn

  • Only connect with people you have met. I call this the handshake rule. There are two reasons: first you want to build relationships and connections, second, you don’t want to get spammed from strangers.
  • Your profile needs to be up-to-date. Executives and board members have lifetimes of experience. You should put it in your profile. The more content within your profile, the higher your chances of being found by people searching within LinkedIn and you’ll build more personal authority.
  • Professional Headshot. Don’t just put up any photo; but use one that is professional, that is consistent with your work or industry. This isn’t Facebook, so no dogs, babies or booze photos.
  • Spend Time in LinkedIn. Most business leaders start their day before breakfast, so make a point to spend 5 to 15 minutes a week looking at your LinkedIn. You’ll find it is a great source fornews and industry interaction while growing in your social media comfort level.
  • Give People Recommendations. Employees and colleagues love getting a pat on the back, and by giving out recommendations, not only do you increase your connection with that person, but you build your own authority.
  • Link to your profile. If you have public profiles or blog pages on the Internet, it is a great place to link to your “LinkedIn Profile”. You should do the same for Twitter and Google+ profiles, so you can build your reach and public authority.
  • Share your PR, News, Thoughts into LinkedIn. If you are creating content, leverage its value by making sure to link from your Social Media networks to your content.

What NOT to do within LinkedIn

  • Do not SPAM. Like all social networks, you should not spam your connections or send them unwanted emails. SPAM is bad enough when you get it in your email box, but when you get it within the confines of LinkedIn, there is more offense taken. SPAM will cause people to disconnect from you and lower your public perception.
  • Don’t ask ALL your connections for recommendations. While you need recommendations on your profile, don’t have a cattle call. If you’re a business executive, you may not enjoy all the comments employees or ex-colleagues may have for you, and you surely don’t want them public. Ask a few key relationships for recommendations, but in general, natural recommendations are the best.
  • Proof your Writing. Make sure your secretary or PR person proofs your content. I’m horrible at proofreading so I always have 2 pairs of eyes on anything I write.

Growing your Social Media Savvy

Jumping into Social Media can be an education process for anyone, let alone executives who have to weigh the value of their time. Social Media is the real world, and you it is time to accept that it will not go away, and Google has said it will start emphasising social results in their algorithms. This means social interactions will effect your website search results. Often Social Media doesn’t appear that valuable, but trust me, anyone who wants to be in business in five or ten years will have to accept Social Media as a tool in the marketing tool belt.

So, I suggest a growth and educational approach to adopting Social Media.

  • Set up your accounts and start “Listening” to what others say.
  • Start to create a “Strategy” for what you and your organization should be doing.
  • Start “Socializing” within the platforms.
  • Start “Measuring” the stats that matter within your goals.
  • Start “Organizing” your social efforts and those efforts within your organization.