So you've joined LinkedIn, filled out your profile and connected with people you know. What next?
I once recommend to someone that they use LinkedIn as they were starting out in business and it would be good for them to network online as well as in-person. They replied to say they had been on LinkedIn for a couple of years but never got any work from it. I asked how much time they invested in LinkedIn each day/week/month. I got a blank look in response as if to say "I need to constantly invest time in it? It's not just a magic lead generating machine?"
Like all social media channels (and real-life networking), you get out of it what you put into it. Having a profile on LinkedIn isn't enough, you need to be spending time connecting and engaging with people.
I, personally, spend around 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn, but I don't just sit and scroll through endless updates in the newsfeed as that can become a mindless waste of time. I try to add value to the community and grow the relationships I have.
Here's our top 5 ways to make the most of the time you spend on LinkedIn
1. Join a group
Social media can get lonely, so join a group on LinkedIn of like-minded business people. This could be a group for people in your profession, or it could be a local networking group. Use the LinkedIn search bar to find groups that may interest you. You can join up to 50 groups, so LinkedIn should never be a lonely place.
Top Tip: when joining a group, be sure to check the Member Settings and Email Digest options. By default, each group could be emailing you every day with updates which is fine if you join 1 or 2 groups - a little more annoying when you join 50!
2. Post a discussion (not a promotion) in a group
Have a burning question you need answering? Maybe you just want to get a second opinion on something? Perhaps you've read something that may interest your peers and you'd like to get their take on it? Then this is a good time to post a new discussion in an appropriate group.
Discussions are not for promotions, so don't promote your business in groups unless invited to do so. We're there to network, not be sold to.
3. Contribute to a discussion (remember to add value)
If you've nothing you'd like to discuss yourself, take the time to read through the discussions already happening in the groups you follow and see where you can add value. Is there someone out there needing some advice or assistance on an area of expertise you're familiar with? If so, contribute to the conversation.
The benefit of being more active in groups is that it increases your profile views and gets your name familiar with more and more people, which is never a bad thing!
4. Recommend someone
If you see someone asking for help on a topic that isn't your forte, but you know someone who can assist, tag them in the comments and recommend their services. You can do this by simply typing their name and LinkedIn should suggest a connection to tag. This way you are not only helping the person with the requirement, but you are also potentially helping your connection who may benefit from some work.
I'm a great believer in reaping what you sow and by giving back to your network, you will benefit from referrals and recommendations in the future.
5. Review your profile
When was the last time you read through your own LinkedIn profile? Last week? Last year? Never? It's always a good idea to review the information you have in your profile as things change, you gain new skills, you change your focus or you have a new job role.
Keeping your profile fresh means any new connections will be able to see exactly what you do and how you can help them, rather than reading outdated information and getting the wrong impression about what you do.
Top Tip: When making updates to your profile, you may want to switch of network notifications so you don't bombard your connections with the slightest changes you have made.
LinkedIn is not a 'set it and forget it' platform. It's not an online CV that you leave up there and hope a prospective client stumbles upon it. It takes time and a commitment to regularly check in, engage and add value to the community.
Spending a productive 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn can be all it takes to grow your network, build those relationships and generate new business.