6 Tips to Harness the Power of LinkedIn

Maximize LinkedIn to Build Your Home Business

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There’s no doubt that social media is an effective tool in promoting a home business. Marketing experts recommend using social networking -- usually Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn -- to reach consumers. While this list is a good one, LinkedIn is a very different creature from the others. Twitter and Facebook allow you to do business networking and promotion, but they’re also used for fun and entertainment.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is all about making professional connections. You’re not going to post what you had for breakfast or watch kitten videos on LinkedIn. Instead, you’re going to connect with potential clients, customers, mentors, and referrers. As a result, you need to use LinkedIn differently than the other networks.

Here are tips for maximizing LinkedIn to build your home business.

1. Create a profile that speaks to your market. Unlike the other social networks, LinkedIn gives you a lot of space to toot your horn. But instead of giving a laundry list of experiences as you might in a resume, create a benefits-oriented profile that will attract potential clients. Particularly in the summary, be clear on how your home business can help customers. Make it easy for members to learn what you do and how you can help them by using bulleted lists. For example, my summary has a short bio, but then I have a list titled, “Leslie Can Teach You How To” followed by a bulleted list of benefits such as “Discover the career you will love that fits the life you want to lead.”

2. Use keywords to get found. Search engines are not the only place keywords are important.

Keywords at LinkedIn will help your connections find you when they need the product or service you offer. Make a list of keywords related to your business and use them in your personal LinkedIn URL (if you want to brand your business or name, use them in your URL instead), headings and text areas. For example, under experience, I have a section on speaking and training, but instead of putting only “Speaker and Trainer” in the headline, I include my keywords of “work at home,” “marketing,” “writing,” and “publishing.”

3. Make strategic connections. Unlike Twitter and Facebook in which the more friends you have the more important you appear, LinkedIn is about quality over quantity.

In fact, once you hit 500, LinkedIn doesn’t post the total number of connections you have. Members of LinkedIn are more picky about who they connect with and in fact, if they don’t know you, they may not connect with you. That means you can’t start asking to connect with members willy-nilly. Doing so might get you labeled a spammer. Instead, start with people you know. You can search their names or allow LinkedIn to access your email to find members for you. Replace LinkedIn’s default note with a personal note when you ask for a connection. You can improve your chance of getting a connection by reminding the member about how you know him and why you want to connect.

4. Share professional news, events and updates only. LinkedIn is all about showcasing your expertise. It’s the place to post your new blog articles, milestones, product launch and industry-related news. Except possibly in group discussions, limit posts related to personal issues to Twitter and Facebook.

5. Participate in groups. Building your connections beyond your current network requires getting to know new people.

You do that by participating in groups. Search for or create groups that cater to your market. Once you join them, participate in discussions. Groups are not a place to blatantly promote your business. Instead, they’re where you share your expertise, provide help and support, and make connections. They’re a good resource to get support for and tips in your business as well.

6. Be generous. Social networking is a two-way street. If you want people to write recommendations, endorse you for a skill or introduce you to potential prospects, you need to do the same. Don’t wait for others to be nice to you. Instead, share the love first, and hopefully, they’ll return the favor

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