LinkedIn had its inception right along with the rest of the social media children (Facebook, Blogging, YouTube, etc.) and yet, in my opinion, has never really taken its rightful seat at the table of viability. The starlets (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) have really gleaned the spotlight and LinkedIn, for lack of a better word, has become the isolated “stepchild” of the family. Over the past couple years, as we have trained and consulted companies beginning a social media program, rarely is LinkedIn the first (or even the third) media that companies want to launch in order to increase a web presence. The lack of fanfare may be a result of LinkedIn’s own early stage “growing pains.” In the beginning years, the social platform was quite cumbersome and lacked a clear vision of how it could be used by a mass audience. However, as LinkedIn has matured it now gives people the ability to instantly connect where the real business is done – with other like-minded business people and produce greater return.
I’m putting my money (and energy) on LinkedIn and the future of business development for that very reason. More than just another social media or web presence, LinkedIn can act as your dynamic, interactive rolodex and customer relationship system. Dunbar’s number suggests that we, as humans, can only keep track of 150 ongoing relationships at one time. Although that seems like a large number, when you are trying to market, create awareness or garner a large quantity of referrals, Dunbar’s number has its limits. LinkedIn enhances our ability to manipulate Dunbar’s number, increasing our ability to meet and keep track of more relationships than ever before and in turn, giving us greater ability to increase business.
To help you get started on gearing up your LinkedIn account I’ve provided some tips on how I use LinkedIn daily to spread the message, connect with more people, and gain greater ROI (Return On Investment) per connection. As always, my main point is this: social media is only an enhancement of what you’re currently doing within your own business. If you are currently not connecting or producing a “voice” that people find valuable – social media enhances nothing (0 x social media = 0). In order for it to really work you have to want to connect and have the discipline to continue the process, develop the content and enrich the relationship (view the Foundational Pillars for Success if you’re not even here yet).
Click here to download a free tool kit on how to maximize your LinkedIn account and increase your business development output.
While you work with the tool kit, I encourage you to welcome home the prodigal child, and give it a seat at your professional & business development table. I recommend you spend about 20 to 30 minutes a week on LinkedIn to get started. Dress up the profile, connect with industry-specific groups, add insight where needed and manage your time wisely (have a disciplined process). If you really like it or it starts to provide large returns put more of your energies into it as you see fit. The ROI of LinkedIn is the enhanced connections you make and the value (monetarily or altruistically) they provide you professionally.
I look forward to linking in with you: Matt Harrington
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