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Are You Linked In for Success?

February 20, 2013

Online networking is exploding. I continue to be amazed at the lightning speed at which people have the capability to connect with so many people in a short period of time. For instance, I own a Life and Leadership Development firm, Potential Unlimited, and I have received as many new clients through my online networking as through my face-to-face meetings. It seriously pays to go online.

Recently, I was ranked by Linked In as having one of the Top 1% viewed profiles on their network for 2012. I want to share with you some of my tips to help you maximize your online presence.

At first glance, online networking can appear overwhelming. There are so many different social media forums out there – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, Linked In, and the list goes on and on. So how do you choose where to go?

Unless you have serious resources allocated to social media, I would encourage you to put greater focus on one area of online relationship-building and do a great job there versus having a presence everywhere and not really reaching anyone. I personally think that LinkedIn is a great resource for building professional connections and increasing business. You have to fish where your fish are. For me, my audience is largely professional executives and entrepreneurs so Linked In makes sense for me. Evaluate your audience and do your research.

For the purpose of this article, I’d like to focus on Top Tips to help you build a strong Linked In profile and set you up to use Linked In for Maximum Results.

1. A picture really does say a thousand words – The number one thing that will entice someone to check out your Linked In profile and want to connect with you is the profile picture you display. Have a professional picture taken of yourself that shows you are warm and confident (smiling) and professional (choose clothing to wear that reflects your style and relays the professional message you want to convey). Also consider having different colour backdrops. I use purple for this as it matches my brand. When you use a colour backdrop, it helps your picture to stand out when people view your profile on their small, mobile devices. Feel free to check out my profile at ‘Carey-Ann Oestreicher’ to get a sense of the backdrop I use.

2. Complete all categories- The more information you share about yourself, the better you communicate your brand. A lot of the work I do with my clients is about helping them to build  strong, purposeful personal brands. Linked In is just another form of communication which needs to extend the brand you want to portray.

3. Ask for references- Have people endorse you and write references about you. It lets others know you are credible and do good work.

4.Join groups – There are thousands of Linked In groups you can belong to. You simply need to type in words of interest under the ‘search’ tab and you will likely find a group that interests you. If not, it is so easy to create your own!

5.To accept or not  to accept? – In the beginning, I was less choosy about who I’d allow into my network. But now, I am. The more people you have in your network, the more time consuming it is to manage as you try to scroll through to find the people you want. My words of advice on this is to make sure the person is someone you want in your network. And use your gut instinct when accepting people.

I once let a gentleman into my network as his profile looked impressive. Shortly after, he was sending me rude messages as a response to some of my postings. I quickly disconnected him from my Linked IN contacts. Do I think you should always know everyone you let into your network? No. I have met so many clients and amazing friends by reaching out to strangers and asking them to be a part of my network. But, stick with those people you feel you’d want to include within your real life in-person network, and you won’t go wrong.

6. Connect -To be successful at online networking, you need to reach out and connect with others. Online relationship-building may be a more comfortable networking forum for introverts who can sit behind their computers and connect with others. The key is to reach out to others. Invite them to be a part of your network. Join up for groups that reflect your interests and comment on others’ posts. Then follow-up with an invite to meet in person.

7. Keep going – Linked In has proven it is here to stay, so it is time to get onboard if you are not already. If you currently have a profile, it is time to evaluate it. Use the features the site offers such as adding key words that share your strengths. Regularly check in with your account and keep contributing to others’ comments.

I invite you to check out my profile at ‘Carey-Ann Oestreicher.’ In your invitation for me to join your network, please mention you saw this article. Looking forward to Linking In with you!

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