Right now I have 326 connections on Linked-in. This gives me an awesome 2.9m people in my network, i.e. the total number of people connected to all the people I’m connected to.   According to my Linked-in stats page there are 75 million people in the Linked-in in Network.

With numbers like those then you should be paying attention. But if you’re not familiar with Linked-in it’s basically a social networking site for professionals.

Linked-in has been described in various ways, but the easiest way to describe it is as Facebook for professionals. But the big difference is that all the content is in a standardised format eg “Profile Headline”, “Summary”, “Education”, “Company”, etc. So consequently, it’s a lot easier to search upon.

Oh yes, and theres’ no dodgy photographs of people falling over drunk outside night clubs!

Convinced now?

Here’s 5 ways you can boost your business and your prospects of getting a job from Linked-in.

1. Complete you online profile.

I’ve lost track of the number  of people who don’t fill in their profile in full. I think that this is big mistake, especially if you’re looking for your next job or client.  If you’re an employee looking for your job you should be aware that a lot of recruitment consultants and headhunters search on key words or experience to find suitable candidates to call or shortlist for roles.

Similarly whether you are looking for business or looking for work make sure you populate your specialities and experience.

Because of the rich search capabilities  you should be capitalising on this functionality by completing your profile and experience. But don’t just rehash your CV or Resume either!  Make sure that you write about your achievements or the projects that you’ve worked on and the contribution that you’ve made. Making sure that you include plenty of keywords and verbs covering your field of expertise.

2. Join Groups and Participate

I am personally a member of 32 groups on Linked-in, which I visit regularly.  However, there are literally 100’s of of groups you could join.  Groups are a great way of building your profile, so start by joining relevant groups in your industry or niche or in your professional field and contribute as often as possible by asking questions, answering questions and generally being helpful. Be memorable, but not pushy or self promoting.

As a guide, t’s fine to respond to a question with a link to a relevant article on your blog which answers a contributor’s question, but not so good to post in the forums ‘just launched a new product, go check it out’ – that’s spam and could get your posts censored or rejected and maybe get you expelled from the group.

A good way to start adding groups is to see what groups the people you are connected to belong and join those.  Linked-in helpfully sends you a summary of the activity in the group by email, which you can choose to receive daily or weekly.  Just be aware that if you do choose to have the email summaries sent to you daily, you could be in for a lot of emails if you join a lot of groups, especially if they are very active groups.

3. Customise your web links

Customising my web links is something I’ve only recently started doing – most people just add the title of their blog or website, but you can add  up to 3 sites or links on your blog.  You should put keywords about your website in the ‘website title’ field on your profile. For example, on my linked-in profile I have ‘advice to grow your business’, ‘Tips for Leaders’, ‘Tips for Entrepreneurs’. These links take people straight to my website, but you could segment it by sending people to relevant pages.

4. Connect with people

Probably the most overlooked opportunity on Linked-in! If you’re on Twitter or Facebook you’ll be used to adding friends or followers. But many people when they get on Linked-in add only a handful of people. When you meet new contacts at a networking event add the people that you’ve met and customise the note that you send them by reminding the prospective connection where you met them and what you discussed. This could be the start of a very valuable relationship.

The only thing I would add here is that only connect with people that you know on some level, although others may disagree, I think that the power of Linked-in increases by being able to help people in your network. For instance, I’ve passed on job opportunities to my contacts or helped people get in touch with one another. I’d  personally not feel comfortable with doing this if I didn’t know them.

5. Integrate your blog

Linked-in has a number of Apps including the WordPress App where you can integrate your WordPress blog and show the latest posting directly on to your profile – if you’ve got a blog it’s another way of getting traffic to your blog and also shows prospective employers, agents, or customers your work.

Linked-in is now linked to Twitter, which means that you can update your Linked-in connections on your musings each time you post to Twitter – which is fine if you don’t post too often or if you post highly relevant stuff you’d want your connections to know and not ‘it’s Friday, got drunk (again) fell over’, which could be detrimental to getting a job or getting new clients.

Whilst I have integated my linked-in profile to Twitter, I personally have my Twitter connection set to only post if I tag a Twitter post with #in

So that’s some of the tips I’ve learnt from using Linkedin. But what about you? What have you learnt?

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