Firstly, congratulations! You’ve taken a really important first step: setting up a LinkedIn profile that clearly positions you.
But what should you do now?
While it will depend on your objectives for being on LinkedIn there are some key steps below you should consider:
1. Connect with people you wish to
The more people you connect with, the more people potentially see your updates. If they then engage with these updates (by liking, commenting on or sharing) the greater your reach as their connections can then see that particular update.
The second reason to connect with more people is that search results will be more meaningful – important if you’re looking to grow your practice. With LinkedIn’s free account, you can see up to 100 search results and full information for your first degree connections (i.e. those people you’re connected to), your second degree connections (connections of your contacts) and fellow group members.
Of course, if you only want to connect with those you know or have met in person, that’s fine too – if search is important to you then you have three other options:
- Join more LinkedIn groups
- Upgrade to a premium (i.e. paid for) account
- Use Google to search LinkedIn (known as X-ray searching LinkedIn)
There are several ways to find people on LinkedIn:
- If you know their name, type it into the search bar
- Look through the ‘People you may Know’ feature
- Look through your connections’ profiles and, if they have their connections on display, take a look at these
- Upload or sync. your email contacts – LinkedIn will then tell you which of them are on LinkedIn (if you’re a lawyer I do NOT recommend synching your contacts – you will be able to see your last few email exchanges with the person within LinkedIn, which could cause confidentiality issues should your account be compromised).
- Use the Advanced Search feature to search by a number of criteria.
2. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and start talking to people there
While the majority of groups on LinkedIn are a waste of time – either because they’re badly managed and are full of spam or there’s not a lot going on, there are some great groups out there so it’s worth looking for them.
You can check out the group stats as well as who in your network is a member of a group prior to joining and if the group is ‘open’ (i.e. anyone can join and discussions are indexed by Google) you’ll be able to see discussions too. This info will help you to make a call about whether a group’s for you.
If not, leave it and join another that better meets your needs. LinkedIn currently allows you to join up to 50 groups plus a further 10 subgroups, which is sufficient for most people.
3. Develop a content plan
If you’re looking to position yourself and overcome pigeon-holing then you’ll want to develop a content plan – essentially a calendar setting out what you’ll be producing when. Here’s a how to:
Tips to make creating content easier for you:
- Share the load around your team – it means you might only have to put together one or two pieces for a year’s worth of content
- Think about existing content that you could re-use, update or repurpose (e.g. an article into a Slideshare presentation)
- Block out an afternoon to draft your content – you may find it easier to go with stream of consciousness first and to edit and reorder later
- Repurpose all new content you produce – get as much mileage from it as you can (e.g. once you have 4-6 blog posts you could turn them into a free guide)
4. Regularly share relevant content with those in your network
Share both your own and third party content via your usual channels as well as LinkedIn. Get relevant people to share it via their accounts (including directly with individuals who need or may want to know about it), share it on your company and/or Showcase page(s), share it via relevant groups (don’t forget to include an intro and don’t share into multiple groups simultaneously or you’ll run the risk of being blocked by a group manager, meaning all your content will need to be moderated before it can be posted in every group to which you belong. That’s unless a particular group manager unblocks you in their group. However many don’t know how to do this), sponsor your update (if appropriate) or run a LinkedIn Ad.
5. Start your own LinkedIn group
There are many reasons why you might want to start your own LinkedIn group. These include:
- Building your profile in your area of expertise
- Positioning yourself as an authority in your area
- Finding and attracting those with similar interests or who may need your help
- Widening your professional network by building relationships with group members
- Learning more about the views and perspectives of those in your industry
- Establishing a community
- Generating interest in you and your firm, including inbound enquiries.
If you want your group to be a success then you’ll need to plan and to do more than follow LinkedIn’s process, which suggests you invite people to join your group before there are any discussions there – why would anyone want to do that? It doesn’t make sense.
This Prezi (below) talks you through how to go about setting up a LinkedIn group that people will want to join and that will deliver value to its members. If you find it helpful, please share it.
6. Seek to move relationships beyond LinkedIn
LinkedIn is another way to stay top of mind with existing contacts and to find and engage ideal prospects. However, it’s unlikely that professionals will get work simply through being on LinkedIn.
Another step or steps will need to occur such as an in-person meeting, a Skype call or putting together a pitch document so it’s important to look for opportunities to move the relationship beyond LinkedIn. There are a multitude of ways to do this from events, to asking people to guest speak, write articles, attend a roundtable, catch up for a coffee etc. The key thing is to make it about the other person. If there’s a benefit to them, then go for it. Just remember that a meeting is much more likely to be successful if you’ve positioned yourself with and demonstrated your value to the other person first.
7. Measure, measure, measure
Hopefully you’ve picked a few key measures that are tied to your objectives and are tracking these over time and in conjunction with your other initiatives.
Keep tracking what’s working well and what’s working less well and tweaking your approach accordingly.
If you want to generate work from LinkedIn then you’ve got to be active: consistently so. Doing a little and often is a much better approach than going at it with great gusto in the early days only to tail off after a few months.
If you focus on positioning yourself as a valuable resource, helping others, and building relationships one by one, then you won’t go far wrong.
What other advice would you give to professionals wanting to use LinkedIn to grow their practices?