I’m certain nearly every professional you’ve met has a LinkedIn profile. Most people know they can use LinkedIn to connect with people, and every now and then, they will log in and browse around. But the true power of the platform comes from actively interacting. That means, not only connecting, but posting and engaging with others. Let’s face it – as an IP professional you need to market yourself in order to grow your practice. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for this.
Start with your profile
If you are going to get active on LinkedIn, you need to ensure your profile is up to snuff. There are number of articles available online to help you optimize your profile. You want to make sure it is reflective of the brand and reputation you want to market.
In general, you will want to make sure your profile photo is professional. This is the first impression, so make it count. Next, select a banner image which will appear on your profile page. Using a company brand or logo is a popular option. You could even select an image that is reflective of your field or practice area. Next, craft a headline description to appear directly below your name. The simple approach is to use your job title. But if you dig a bit deeper, you can use a more creative headline that describe what you do and whom you serve. This is a great place to get creative. And finally, tell your story and explain your experience. There are various heading on your LinkedIn profile where you are highlight key points about your background, education, and experience. Don’t get shy here. This is your chance to shine so shine bright.
Connect with people
Connecting on LinkedIn with someone you’ve met an event (virtual or in person), is simply accomplished by finding them on LinkedIn and sending a request. If the connection is organic (ie: never having met the person but receiving a request), again, making the connection is as easy as accepting the request.
But WARNING: when reaching out to people to connect with on LinkedIn, don't just send the request. Make sure you include a personalized note. Ideally, you can mention something that refers to how you know one another. If the connection request is a cold connection, then at least make the note about them.
Bonus tip: if someone sends you a LinkedIn request without a message, before accepting you can write to them asking when/where you've met - temper it with a "it must have been a while ago, I can't recall".
After connecting, make sure to really connect
What’s next? Too many people I have spoken to leave it at that.
If you are in person and receive someone’s business card, you don’t walk away at that point (at least, I hope you don’t…). You strike up a conversation and connect person to person. My advice is to do the same thing on LinkedIn. Don’t just connect with people on LinkedIn, connect with the people on your LinkedIn profile!
Here’s how to do that. It's time to get interactive.
A great place to begin is by engaging with other’s posts. Start by liking a post – that lets the author know their content resonated with you. When you’re ready, comment on posts. One, commenting gets you in the game by raising your profile. Comments in a post can often lead to an interactive conversation online. Two, it broadens the reach of the content which supports the author. This can be important if, for example, you are a woman wanting to champion other women or if the author is a client you want to endorse.
The next step is to start posting content. If you are not ready to create your own content yet, a great place is to start is to share other people’s content. This is referred to as curating content. One important tip is to at least add some of your text to the post to explain why you are sharing this particular content or what it means to you. Why is this content worth sharing with your network? Bonus points for tagging the original author. And don’t forget to use relevant hashtags.
Eventually you will hopefully begin creating your own content. Topics can be anything that reflect who you are professionally and personally. Create your brand and write about how you service clients or things that are important to you.
For example, if a potential client has a problem that you have written about and established yourself as an expert in solving, they may remember you and reach out. All because of your brand.
There are no rules here except to engage and post consistently. It may feel as if these small actions are not amounting to much, but over time there is an overwhelming cumulative effect of building your brand and reputation.
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for the IP professional wanting to build a brand and grow their practice. You just need to embrace a few tips and tricks. By connecting, engaging and posting, you can create a robust network and presence on LinkedIn that will help build your reputation and grow your practice.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this month's "Beyond the Application".