Social media is a great way to connect with clients and keep up to date on what everyone is up to. That being said, social media posts aren’t always the most professional & may contain more personal information than we want clients or potential employers to have access to. This is where LinkedIn comes in to play. It is the social media solution for business professionals. Linkedin is not the place you post about your cat, your political opinions or about the most amazing cheeseburger in the world. Linkedin is a place for professionals who want to advance their careers and/or their businesses to connect with each other. I recently had an amazing opportunity to attend a seminar given by Wayne Breitbarth (www.powerformula.net) where he gave some great insights of how to use this powerful tool to find business opportunities. If you are serious about fully utilizing LinkedIn, I recommend going to his website and checking out all of his resources. Here are some of the most important things you need to know:
Think of your Linkedin profile as your online resume. This is where you can showcase what sets you apart and makes you specially qualified to work in the position you are seeking, or to work for the clients you are going after. The profile can/should be fluid and it can be tweaked to meet your current purposes. For example, if I’m trying to pick up an account that I know does primarily workers comp defense, I’m probably going to update my profile to talk about my experience with surveillance and maybe share some stories about catching people committing fraud, BEFORE I REACH OUT TO CONNECT. Another important thing to know is that the profile should be keyword rich. Unlike Google & most other search engines these days, the Linkedin search algorithm rewards the use of key words used again and again. The more you can work in those key words, the better. That being said, keep in mind that prospective employers/clients will be reading it as though it were your resume, so make sure that it reads well and that your use of key words doesn’t become obnoxious.
Understanding how connections work is very important. There are 1st level, 2nd level, 3rd level and 4th level connections. 1st level connections are people you are currently connected with, 2nd level connections are connected with one of your current connections and so on. The closer you are to somebody, the more profile information you can see, and the easier it is to connect with them. The more shared connections you have with someone, the more likely they are to accept an invitation to connect. If there is someone really important you want to connect with, reach out to a mutual connection first and ask for an introduction. In the “real world” we all know this works great, but it also works online too; and that’s one of the most powerful things about LinkedIn. Think about who you might be able to connect with that might not be in your typical professional circle. It may be an old classmate, a neighbor or someone from church. You never know who might be able to put you in contact with that person, and that will make all the difference.
Now, before you go connecting with people like it’s Myspace in 2003, there is a caveat you need to consider. If you are connected with people who you would consider “competition”, then you could inadvertently be introducing your clients to your competition or at the very least, increasing the probability that they will connect. One of the wonderful things about CALSPro is that we work together as process serving and photocopy companies to help each other & I don’t want to minimize that; however it’s important to consider whom you want to connect with and if you would want them to see all of your other connections and everything you have posted on your profile. I personally connect with other private investigators and process serves & I have even hired several independent contractors because I found them using LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn, it’s important to join groups for the same reason it’s important to join groups in “real life”; because it helps us meet people and expand our professional network. The key here is to think about what kind of people you would like to meet & join groups that they would belong to. If you want to meet attorneys, join bar association type groups. If you are trying to meet process servers, join one of the many process server groups. There is a limit of 50 groups that any one person can join, so join as many as you can up to that point. If you do join a bunch of groups, make sure to go in and change the email notification settings; otherwise you will be inundated with emails.
CALSPro Technology Committee Member