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Your Online Brand
I hate to admit it but I’ve been a little hesitant in joining the social media revolution. MILLIONS are connecting, writing on each other’s walls and tweeting all across the web. Peer pressure abounds, but I haven’t yet succumbed to jumping on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagons because, for me, this just isn’t my “space”. However, I found myself stumped, yet curious, when I first heard of LinkedIn. But, as I learned more, social networking finally made sense… business sense.
For businesses and business professionals, LinkedIn is one of the best networking tools out there. With over 60 million users in over 200 countries, it essentially connects you to the business world, without having to leave your desk. It’s not sexy or flashy and no one is writing on your wall or posting outrageous videos. But LinkedIn’s potential is unlimited. For me, LinkedIn allows me to network electronically – something I’m not very good at in my real life but is vital to growing in the business world.
It’s easy to get started and the possibilities are endless.
• Create your profile. This is basically your online resume so you want it to be complete, accurate and a positive representation of you and your work. Include a headshot. Don’t just list your experience; note your accomplishments – what have you done, what sets you apart. Be sure to include previous jobs and employers, personal interests are also important. These are all ways for people to find and connect with you. Review your profile regularly and keep it up to date.
• Create a personal LinkedIn url and use it. Include in your signature line, blog, webpage, etc to lead people to your profile.
• Make some connections. What is nice about LinkedIn is that you have to know people to connect with them. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry will ask to be your “friend”. You can upload your contacts from your address book and request connections of those who are already on LinkedIn. Only request connections to people you know and when you do request a connection, create a personal message; make it something unique to you. Be sure to update your LinkedIn contacts routinely.
• In the settings section, provide all of your contact information. This information is not public but enables people to search for you. Don’t make your email public unless you need more spam in your inbox.
• Recommendations – you have to give some to get some. Be sure that the recommendations you give are personalized and include specific example of the person’s skill set. Make requests for recommendations from clients and colleagues personally, not the generic LinkedIn request.
• Join groups and participate in questions/answers. LinkedIn has thousands of groups – everything from alumni associations to industry associations. It’s a great way to meet new people and find out who influencers are in various areas.
Now that you are up and running on LinkedIn, here are some tips for making it work for you.
• Get introduced! Looking for a contact at a new company or potential client? Search LilnkedIn to see if you have any mutual connections. LinkedIn shows relationships in degrees. Direct connections are first degree contacts, connections to your connections are considered second degree contacts, etc. Think six degrees to Kevin Bacon. You can ask mutual contacts to introduce you. Not only is it convenient but It gives you instant credibility.
• Research! Getting ready to meet a new customer – look him/her up on LinkedIn first. You may discover that you went to the same college, attended the same conference or are reading the same book. This added information is a great way to break the ice and find something in common.
LinkedIn may be completely foreign to you, as it was to me initially. But, influencers (like Fresh Talk blogger Tom Karst) and fellow professionals (like The California Avocado Commission’s Jan DeLyser) across the fresh produce industry are already linking up via LinkedIn and reaping the benefits of having, cultivating and spreading their very own online personal and professional brand. We encourage HR professionals to join PMA Foundation for Industry Talent’s HR group to engage and share information with our produce industry members. I look forward to seeing you in the LinkedIn universe and welcoming you into my network!
Posted by: Kim Nicholl-Keane, PMA Foundation for Industry Talent