Recently, I received an email from LinkedIn proclaiming, "Congratulations! You are in the top 1 percent of viewed profiles on LinkedIn!" The natural analyst in me immediately began to think about the total number of members on LinkedIn (200 million). I began to wonder about the probable percentage of them who actually use their accounts, let alone actively, and more so, those who it use proactively.
I happen to fall into that proactive category, which is why I'm in this "elite" (or so LinkedIn would like me to think) group of users. But whether I'm really in the 1 percent or not, plenty of young entrepreneurs can benefit from the key insights I picked up along the way to my 1 percent status.
Here are 8 simple tips on how to build your brand and get more out of LinkedIn.
1. Have a catchy title. This does not include "role, company name." Mine once read, "Finding you the best fit for merchant services with no shady business at Equitable Payments." This tagline has resulted in a lot of strangers reaching out to connect who relate to the woes of my industry and appreciate the candor and humor. In turn, I've won business.
2. Connect with people you meet within 24 hours. If you meet someone at a networking event, a dinner party or anywhere else, connect with them (and connect with your friends too). There may be no immediate synergy, but the beauty of LinkedIn is the connection you get to everyone's network.
3. Don't make your contacts private. You are going to want to look through your contact's contacts, so it's only fair that they can look through yours. Don’t fear that someone is poaching your contacts. They're not.
4. Ask for an introduction. An easy way to do this is to first find a few people with whom you’d like an introduction. Then send a message to your contact saying, “I was glancing through your contacts and wanted to ask if you’d be comfortable connecting me with the following people (Insert Names/Titles)? I’d be happy to write a short blurb you can use or edit to facilitate in making the introduction. I welcome you to do the same with my contacts. Thanks, in advance, for any help you can offer!"
5. Join relevant groups and participate in the conversation. Don't spam the groups; instead, engage with the members.
6. Have a good picture. Get a headshot if you don't have one. It should be professional, although it doesn't need to be stuffy. It should not be cropped out of a picture of you and other people.
7. Complete your profile. Update your past experience, summary, organizational involvement, education and awards. You never know the benefits it could have attracting potential customers, as well as help people who knew you in past roles to find you.
8. Get recommended. Reach out to contacts you’ve interacted with in your current and past roles. This is free advertising for you and you can refer potential clients to these "testimonials."
Still think you don’t need to be on LinkedIn? Will you ever be looking for a new client? A new hire? I thought so—which means now’s the time to get your profile and network updated and activated.
Don’t wait until you need something. At that point, it’s too late.
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Darrah Brustein is the co-founder of Equitable Payments, a merchant services brokerage, and founder of Network Under 40 and Network Over 40, a series of monthly networking events for professionals. Darrah recently authored Finance Whiz Kids, a series of kids book that teach the basics of financial education. She is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
Photos from top: iStockphoto, Thinkstock