LinkedIn has become an essential tool for businesses and individuals all over the world, having jumped from 4,500 members in its first month to nearly 350 million now.
No matter what you use it for - whether it's to find sales prospects, jobs, or to stay in touch with others in your industry - LinkedIn offers up a world of business opportunities. But are you using it correctly? Are you sure about that?
Business experts Inc.com recently published an article on the LinkedIn truths all professionals should know – let's take a closer look at what they reveal...
1. Sorry, not everybody is desperate to know you
It's easy to get carried away when you first join LinkedIn and start trying to connect with everybody; but some users might be offended by receiving requests from people they've never met. While some friendly folk are happy to meet new people and connections, others will view it as a waste of their time and even an invasion of their privacy. So err on the side of caution and only connect with people you have met or spoken to in 'real life,' - or at the very least you have a mutual connection with.
2. First impressions matter
Remember the essentials: have a professional headshot profile picture (no silly faces or puppies/children/alcoholic beverages...); customise your page URL; include personal recommendations and details about your experience and expertise.
3. Death of the salesman?
People are becoming more savvy to advertising these days, and most of us dislike the thought of being sold to. Avoid messages or connection attempts that come across as 'salesy' or you risk putting people off; instead, write unique content that shows you are a real person looking to make real connections. And most importantly, be yourself.
4. Become a groupie
Personal profiles and private messages only get you so far. Groups can be a powerful way to reach out to large numbers of new people without p**ing anybody off - join as many as you think appropriate (50 is the current LinkedIn limit), and establish your voice and personality by joining in with comment threads or starting your own conversation. Before you know it, you'll have more connections than before - and you might even be inspired to start up a group of your own!
5. Next time it's personal
Start each new connection off on the right foot by sending a brief message, for example explaining why why making that connection means something to you. The default LinkedIn message is cold, impersonal and frankly quite boring. After that, remember to communicate with your connections regularly - e.g. congratulating them on work anniversary or promotion, and so on. It doesn't take a lot of effort but can go a long way towards keeping you front of mind and deepening business relationships.