Linking In: Part II

We have been looking at social media for home-based businesses, and on Tuesday, we began looking at LinkedIn, and some of the basic features of the social networking platform.

There are some “advanced” features beyond just the basic profile, contacts, and status updates.

Groups. As with Facebook, you can start and/or join LinkedIn Groups, a collection of LinkedIn members in the same industry or discussing a specific topic. This is a good way to share insights and other links and information. As always, remember to be professional.

Recommendations. If you have worked with any of your contacts regularly or on major projects, ask them to write you a recommendation which can be added to your profile. Have them be specific. While it would be disingenuous for you to write a recommendation yourself and have them post it under their own name, it’s not uncommon to go back and forth a few times via e-mail to ensure that your recommender is emphasizing the kind of work you want to get more of. And, of course, be sure to return the favor and write a recommendation for a recommender, if they desire one.

LinkedIn Premium. The free “default” LinkedIn services limits the members whom you can contact. That is, you can only send messages to those to whom you are directly linked. But maybe you want to reach out to those beyond your immediate circle. LinkedIn has a variety of premium tiers (which start at $29.95 a month) that vary based on whether you are a job hjunter, a job seeker, a business seekling to grow your network, or are looking specifically for sales leads. A premium account let you send “InMail” to anyone on LinkedIn, and also give you more access even to those already in your circle. It’s worth reviewing the options here.

As with any social media initiative, it requires a certain amount of regular activity, diligence, and persistence to bear fruit. We may not like doing it, but it’s become a necessary evil today, and will likely remain that way, however much we may think it’s just a passing fad (it isn’t). Come up with a schedule for devoting time to social media activities—say, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. This could also be tied into a set period of catching up on industry-related news; get into a habit of setting aside a time to read trade news, checking out links from our Twitter-mates, our Google news alerts, and other educational activities. While doing this, share interesting links and offer comment on them. Once this becomes a regular habit, it will become easier and more natural, and at the same time you’ll be increasing your presence among your social network. Relinks, retweets, and other “forwards” can help expand your network.

There are a tremendous number of ways of taking advantage of LinkedIn. If you have read our Greatest Strengths report and taken the evaluation, your results can be linked to your LinkedIn page, so visitors can get a sense of what it’s like to work with you.