What is LinkedIn?

With over 150 Million users, LinkedIn is the most professional, and least social, of all of the social networks. It is a business focused site concentrated on networking and connecting with professionals in the same field of service, or with influencers who may refer clients. While all social media should be considered networking to some degree, LinkedIn is a network for information sharing and gathering and business discussions. Posting pictures of one’s dinner entrée is not appropriate here, where it is the norm on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

What’s in it for me?

LinkedIn is a great source of information within your specialized field. It is a place where groups are created for various professions to share updates, trends and information to help one another. There is an opportunity to post resumes and view job postings as well. Each user has a profile showcasing career experience, accomplishments and area of expertise. This is a great way to attract potential employers and career opportunities.  One is able to connect with former coworkers, clients and friends as a means of online networking and professional support.

How does a business benefit from Linkedin?

Depending on the type of business, LinkedIn can be an extremely valuable tool. First and foremost, LinkedIn groups are amazing forums for business owners. For business to business, joining a local, geographically focused business group provides the ability to network with other business owners, showcase expertise in your field of business and educate others on the value of your services. Businesses must be careful to educate and network as opposed to over promoting themselves. Starting discussions and answering questions within a group is a great way to gain exposure, show interest in others and build relationships.

Everyone has a circle of influence, in other words other professionals with clients needing your services. For instance mortgage brokers receive referrals from real estate agents; financial advisors receive referrals from CPAS; orthodontists receive referrals from dentists, and on and on. Being an active participant in discussions within professional groups allow business owners to build relationships and trust to achieve referral sources.

Businesses also have the ability to create a business page highlighting the businesses services and achievements, as well as, creating groups as a method of directing the conversation toward subjects of interest in creating the appropriate connections and referrals.

Building connections is an ongoing process and interacting with those connections regularly is critical. Once you join Linkedin, remain diligent in your communication with others. If you are unable to maintain an appropriate presence, you may require assistance.