EVERYONE KNOWS that technology is a work in progress. As a user of any technology, you know that the only guarantee is that change will occur. The trouble with some change is that you need to learn what has changed and how those changes affect your use of that technology.
LinkedIn has made several substantial changes to its platform over the past year, and many of those changes have left LinkedIn users frustrated and confused. This article discusses some of the recent changes and how you can use them to help with business development.
One of the most obvious changes is LinkedIn’s new, cleaner look. The navigation bar has been condensed, with many of the previous menu items consolidated under the Interests tab. Profiles are easier to edit, with larger photos, making it simpler to recognize your connections—and for them to recognize you.
The basics. Editing your profile is now easier, and you have the ability to add more valuable information that may interest your target audience. If you go to Edit Profile under the Profile menu, you will see pencil icons that allow you to edit individual profile sections. You can also rearrange the information in each section using arrows to drag and drop individual items within that section.
The more valuable the information you add to your LinkedIn Profile, the more people will recognize you as an expert—and a “go-to” person in your area of practice. One way to do that is by using the “television” icon next to the Edit pencil icon in each section. It allows you to add links, documents, images and videos to the Summary, Experience and Education sections of your Profile. For example, if you have written a white paper, you can upload the document directly to LinkedIn. If you have made a video, published an article, written a book or made a presentation, get more visibility by adding a link to your Profile along with any slides you may want to share.
LinkedIn also allows you to include additional sections on your Profile to showcase your experience, including sections for certifications, languages, projects, patents and much more. Be sure to showcase your experience by including these sections where appropriate.
LinkedIn has made the profile photo larger. This is important because your photo is your introduction—the first impression people receive when they come to your profile page. LinkedIn is a business networking site; people visit your profile because they want to meet you. A photo increases trust, and a professional head shot will make the best impression.
Your contact information used to be easy to find when viewing a profile. It is now located in a hidden drop-down menu in Edit Profile mode below your photo (and to the right) that is accessed by selecting Edit Contact Info. Once you open that drop-down menu, you will find opportunities to add your email, phone, website, blog and address. Be sure you fill yours out fully.
The more sophisticated settings. The tabs on the LinkedIn navigation bar have also changed. At first it may appear that LinkedIn has removed some options, but if you hover your cursor over the individual tabs you will see that some items have been moved to drop-down menus. For example, LinkedIn has moved Groups and Companies under the Interests tab. These categories still function as they did before, but a new option, Pulse, has been added under Interests. Pulse allows you to bring news that is important to you right to your LinkedIn account daily. This can include industry, client, legal topic or general news (e.g., Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fast Company, etc.). This is a good area to check first thing in the morning over coffee.
Influencer posts can also be directed to your LinkedIn account via Pulse. Influencers are people who you want to follow because they often have something valuable to share. To find Influencer information, you must search for it. You can find Influencers on many topics (e.g., Leadership & Management, Careers, Marketing, Health Care & Technology, etc.). Under All Influencers you can find people others think contribute valuable commentary and select those you want to follow (e.g., Jack Welch, Arianna Huffington, Ban Ki-moon or the Research Professor at GW Law School).
Another category under Pulse is called All Channels. You can find specific topic categories (e.g., Big Ideas & Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Small Business, Professional Women, Telecommunications, etc.). If you choose to follow a particular topic, all posts from that topic will be fed into your LinkedIn account through Pulse. This feature allows you to stay abreast of areas that you and your clients may find interesting.
The last category under Pulse is All Publishers, which includes media such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and many more. By choosing the publishers from which you want to receive information, LinkedIn will deliver current information directly to your computer, tablet or smartphone on a daily basis.
USING THE INFORMATION FROM PULSE
Being the first to know what is happening in the news or in specific industries creates opportunities for building your practice. After receiving information via Pulse, you may be in a position to let a client know of industry-specific information that may be useful to it. You might be able to identify an emerging legal need based on changes that are happening in the industry. By following and sharing information, you can add value and build your relationships by demonstrating to your clients that you understand their needs.
WHERE DID MY COMMUNICATIONS TAB GO?
At the top of your home page, above the navigation bar, to the right of the search field you will find icons, including an envelope, a flag, and a person, as well as your thumbnail photo. The flag tells you if people have looked at your information. The person allows you to automatically add people you know to your LinkedIn contacts from other programs. Your thumbnail photo will provide you with options to make changes to your account, Company Page and settings. The most important area is the envelope.
If you hover your cursor over the envelope, it will tell you if you have messages. More importantly, if you click on the envelope you will be taken to your inbox, where you can compose a message, view invitations and sent messages, and send invitations to join your network.
If you click on Compose Message, you will be brought to an email form. In the form you can add the names of people in your LinkedIn network or people for whom you have an email address. Add a subject and type your message. You have the option to send a message to an individual or to several people, up to 25 at the same time. If you choose to send a message to multiple recipients, before you hit Send, unclick the box below that says, “Allow recipients to see each other’s name.” This way you can send the same information to more than one person at a time but still give the impression that each individual is important to you. It also respects the privacy of those to whom you send messages.
WAYS TO LEVERAGE LINKEDIN
- Posting content on LinkedIn gives you a unique opportunity to stay top of mind with your contacts while building credibility in a valuable and unobtrusive way.
- Connect with your prospects and network on LinkedIn. During the course of reading an interesting article, take an extra 30 seconds to share it on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn’s Updates (seen on your LinkedIn home page and in LinkedIn update emails) enable you to easily see what your contacts are doing. Take time to review them, along with your news.
You will receive weekly emails from LinkedIn alerting you to the activities of your contacts. Take a few seconds to reach out to a contact when something catches your eye. The culture of online networking is no different from face-to-face networking. The more you do and genuinely give, the more successful you will be.