LinkedIn: Your Gateway to the Professional Crowd

LinkedIn is the only major social networking site aimed specifically at the professional crowd. If Facebook is a cocktail party, then LinkedIn is a more formal networking event. This difference gives the site an entirely different look and feel; gone are the games, entertainment pages, and other frilly extras, replaced by posts with current openings, requests for proposals, and commercially-oriented details.

For that reason, LinkedIn is possibly the most time-efficient social networking destination. There aren’t nearly as many users – only 50 million as compared to Facebook’s 400 million – but they are all there to find and transact business.

And so, the key to marketing through LinkedIn isn’t in crafting clever ads or coming up with the right tag lines, but in looking like a person or company that people want to do business with. It’s all about your resume and profile, along with some high-powered connections, so make sure that what’s written about you is arranged and worded in a way that puts you at the top of the pack.

Here are a few tips for accomplishing just that:

Don’t skimp on the details. Pictures, facts about your education, samples of your work, and anything else you would want a prospective client to know about you should all show up on your LinkedIn page. The upside of LinkedIn is that it can put you directly in contact with all kinds of decision makers; the downside is that it can put them in touch with all kinds of other vendors. Since you never know what might tip someone in your favor, it’s a good idea to include as many salient details as possible.

Use your copywriting flair. After years spent in marketing, advertising, promotion, I’m convinced that everyone has a little bit of a copywriter in them. Now is the time to pull those skills out, especially when crafting a headline for your profile or description of the work you do. Be excited about your profession and abilities; LinkedIn – not to mention the world in general – is no place to be modest or understated when it comes to talking about your talents if you want to get ahead.

Collect referrals. One of the best features on LinkedIn is that you have past clients refer you, leave reviews, and otherwise spread the good word about your work. I recommend that you take advantage of this as much and as often as possible – nothing you can ever say about yourself will speak as loudly as what others will say about you… especially if they are high profile contacts.

Link, link, link. The real secret of social networking isn’t building a strong blog, having a polished Facebook profile, or even tons of recommendations on LinkedIn – the breakthrough usually comes when you have all of these pieces working in tandem. So, on LinkedIn, as with all other social media, make sure you are creating links back to your other profiles, websites, and even off-line forms of communication. The easier it is for people to find you, and find out more about your company, the greater the odds they’ll eventually decide to do business with you.