Top Five LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

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LinkedIn is the world’s largest business-oriented service and allows users to network and keep in touch with business contacts and potential clients. When used properly, LinkedIn can help members build stronger personal relationships to facilitate more direct contact and business opportunities. This article will explain several common mistakes that can impact the effectiveness of your LinkedIn marketing strategy. Those who are new to LinkedIn can first read our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”

  1. Having an Incomplete Profile — Having a LinkedIn profile that is 100 percent complete with an accurate description of your professional experience, skills and qualifications will help to optimize your LinkedIn profile and establish your professional identity online. In today’s technological world, a LinkedIn profile is becoming the new resume. To complete your profile, add a photo, list your professional work experience with accurate dates and responsibilities, include skills and expertise keywords in each section and request professional recommendations from your connections.
  1. Not Participating in LinkedIn Groups — There are no benefits to joining dozens of groups on LinkedIn and then not participating in group discussions. LinkedIn Groups are powerful online networking tools for business professionals. We recommend searching for groups that are related to your industry or groups that your potential customers and clients are likely to be active in. Once you’ve requested to join, start participating in discussions and sharing your professional expertise. Users can also participate in the LinkedIn Answers section, when appropriate. By answering other users’ questions in this section, you can boost your authority, online reputation and exposure.
  1. Not Requesting or Giving Recommendations — To build authority on your profile, always request professional recommendations from your contacts and return the favor. These can greatly enhance your profile by giving potential clients and business contacts a clear indication of the quality of your company’s work.
  1. Not Having a Custom URL — One of the most overlooked yet valuable features of LinkedIn is that users can create a customized URL for their profile in place of the default URL. By creating a customized URL with either your full name or your business’ name, prospective clients or customers will have a better chance of finding and recognizing your account. To customize your URL on LinkedIn, click here and then “Customize Your Public Profile URL.”
  1. Requesting to Connect with People You Don’t Know — We don’t recommend sending emails to users who you have never met or spoken to. In some cases, this can get you banned from LinkedIn if enough people report “I don’t know this person.” If you want to connect with someone who you don’t know personally, see if there are any shared connections who may be able to introduce you. You can also develop relationships with users through the LinkedIn Groups’ discussion boards and then send an invitation to connect once you are comfortable enough to do so.

Most of all, it’s important to stay as active as possible on LinkedIn. At a minimum, users should make sure that their profile is 100% complete and use about a half hour per week to browse through LinkedIn Groups and join in the conversation. By consistently updating your LinkedIn profile, maintaining your company page and participating in group discussions, you’ll find that this social networking site is essential when it comes to online marketing, especially for B2B professionals.

For more information about how to avoid LinkedIn mistakes, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Is Traditional Networking a Waste of Time in 2012?

With the value of social media networking and other Web tools, businesses should develop a multifaceted strategy that places greater emphasis on online networking and business development over traditional in-person networking and trade shows.

Networking

Building and nourishing relationships with clients, customers and professionals is an essential component of promoting your business. While traditional networking events such as trade shows and other social events have long been a staple of the business world, I have become increasingly skeptical of their long-term effectiveness. I’ve found that these networking methods are costly, time-consuming and rarely offer any substantial results. As social networking sites secure a stronger influence on people’s day-to-day lives, I’ve found that my time is often better spent using online communication outlets. Web networking is cost-effective and doesn’t require any travel or huge time commitments. By first taking advantage of online networking techniques, and supplementing this effort with traditional networking, your business can strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. This article will explain the problem with traditional networking, why social media and Web-based networking provides a solution, how to make the most of in-person networking, which events to attend and which you should avoid and five ways you can network and develop your business without leaving your desk.

The Problem with Traditional Networking — I often feel guilty for not attending as many business networking events as I think I should. Then again, when I do attend a business trade show or a general networking event, I often come back to the office and say that it was a complete waste of time. Most of these events are filled with salespeople and barely any real decision makers. Between travel time and attendance fees, I’ve found that traditional networking events are also costly and extremely time-consuming. These events take a lot of valuable time away from being at the office and getting other things done, including marketing. I usually come back from these events bombarded with business cards, without any genuine connections or prospects. It’s really not surprising that most business cards handed out at networking events either end up gathering dust in the office or at the bottom of the trash can. So what’s the solution? In 2012, my goal is to focus 90% of my networking efforts on social media and Web-based networking.

The Alternative: Social Media and Web-based Networking — Especially for professionals who have a limited amount of time on their hands for networking, using social media sites such as LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Google+ can be convenient, less time-consuming and effective. For those predominantly in B2B fields, I recommend focusing onLinkedIn because this site places an emphasis on networking with other business professionals. Through social media, you can engage in quick and frequent conversations with your audience. You can also get introduced to people who you otherwise would have never had access to. For example, you can request introductions with personalized messages through LinkedIn and search for fellow professionals in your industry using theTwitter search engine. Professionals can also take advantage of the LinkedIn Groups andLinkedIn Answers sections to share their expertise, engage in conversations and strengthen their credibility by posting on these forums. Social networking is excellent for meeting other professionals, keeping in touch with existing contacts and making initial connections, but it can never be as personal as direct interaction. However, online communication shouldn’t be your sole business networking strategy because it is not nearly personal enough. I believe that there is still a place for traditional networking techniques to supplement and make the most of your online efforts. The key is to be focused and attend the right events for you.

Making the Most of In-person Networking — Businesses shouldn’t abandon traditional networking events altogether. I recommend attending networking events where you know you will be in front of your prospective customers or clients. The following are examples of which traditional networking events are still appropriate to attend and which ones you should avoid:

  • What to Attend:

    • Events where you know you’ll be in front of your prospective customers or clients.

    • Events where you know CEOs and decision makers will be in attendance, not just salespeople.

    • Events that you know will attract your specific, niche target audience.

  • What to Avoid:

    • Large, general trade shows

    • Speed networking events

    • General Chamber meetings

    • Lectures

      • If you do attend lectures, do so for educational purposes rather than networking. However, you may want to attend these events to meet the speaker or network before the program begins. If you accomplished your goals, politely exit.

Once you’ve made an initial connection at a networking event, it’s essential to encourage communication using social media. For example, if someone has their Twitter handle orFacebook page name printed on their business card, try connecting with them after the networking event has ended. You can also request an introduction on LinkedIn or Google+by searching for the person’s full name or company. After you’ve reached out to your connections using social media, you can send private messages, engage them in conversations and keep in touch. On Twitter, you can also send your connections personalized tweets such as, “I thought you would be interested in this article…” or “What is your opinion on this topic?” Also, don’t forget to add them to your e-newsletter list.

Just as you should follow up with those you’ve met through face-to-face networking events using social media, I would also encourage in-person meetings with those you’ve met on the Web. After you’ve made an initial connection with a potential customer, client or professional, you can invite them to meet face-to-face, talk over the phone or have a conversation through Skype.

Before you leave the office for your next networking meeting, try these business development techniques.

5 Ways You Can Network and Develop Business Without Leaving Your Desk:

  1. Monitor Craigslist — Use Craigslist to monitor and respond to business opportunities. By setting five minutes aside at the beginning every day, you can easily browse to see if anyone is searching for something that your business can provide. If you find a relevant post, simply send an introductory message to the posted email, describing your business and how you can help the user.
  1. Participate in LinkedIn Answers and Groups — By participating in LinkedIn Group discussions and responding to questions on LinkedIn Answers, people will begin to see you as a thought leader and trusted source in your field. LinkedIn Answers is so valuable because, at traditional networking events, you may need to meet dozens of people before you find a question that is relevant to your business. On LinkedIn Answers, you can simply browse through questions and respond to what you can answer best. Not only will having this visibility and recognition on LinkedIn help you make stronger connections, but users will look to your business first, should they require your products or services in the future.
  1. Request Introductions on LinkedIn — Requesting an introduction on LinkedIn is a useful way to create new connections within your LinkedIn network. You can easily send and respond to introductions to those who are connected to the users that you are connected to. To do this, click on one of your contacts, search through this person’s connections for someone you would like to be introduced to and then click the “Get Introduced” button. You will then be prompted to compose a simple message to the person you are requesting an introduction from. By upgrading to a paid LinkedIn account, you may send messages directly, without waiting for an introduction from one of your contacts.
  1. Follow Up with Social Media Connections — Each time someone follows you on Twitter, becomes a fan on Facebook or connects with you on LinkedIn, don’t just ignore them. A tip is to send direct messages, thanking the user for connecting with your business and perhaps leading them to either your website, blog or another Web page.
  1. Participate in the Blogosphere — Blogging can also be a strong business networking tool. While it is important to frequently update your own blog, it is just as helpful to leave thoughtful comments on other blogs. You should strive to connect with bloggers in your targeted business areas. By sharing your expertise or advice with relevant bloggers, or on blogs that you know your target audience will visit, you can build powerful connections and relationships.

Wait, everything we just talked about cost you $0. Compare that to gas and attendance fees, not to mention valuable time spent out of your office. After you’ve taken advantage of these free tools, you can generate more leads and continue to build your business by developing Web advertising campaigns. To learn more about Web advertising, landing pages and email advertising, download our free guide, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings

Google recently launched Google+, a new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm. Although it is still in its field-testing phase and by invitation only, Google+ has reached 10 million users in just 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. This remarkable feat took Twitter a total of 780 days and Facebook 852 days to accomplish. According to the latest official estimate on July 18, Google+ now has over 18 million users.

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Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. For example, you may choose to add Google+’s founder, Larry Page, to your circle and you will not need his approval to do so.

Although there is no functionality for business pages or advertisements at the moment, we would encourage you to seek invitations from those you already know on Google+ and create personal profiles. Google+ also automatically imports your Gmail contacts so it is simple to find people you know. The company plans to add a business feature within the next couple of months. Google+ is rapidly evolving, with more features soon to come.

This article will provide you with an overview of Google+ features such as the +1 button, Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and its unique mobile and privacy capabilities.

+1 Button — This button is very similar to the Facebook “like” button. To click +1 on a blog post, article, photo or any other content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to put the +1 button on your own website and blog here.

Circles — On Google+, you can group your contacts into circles. For example, you may have a separate circle for friends, co-workers, business contacts, family and so on. You can create as many circles as you like. To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a circle. Your contacts can be added to multiple circles as well. When you post text, photos, videos, links and location to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. For example, you may want to share a photo only with your friends, or you may share an interesting industry-related article with your business contacts. The Circles feature helps to address one of the shortcomings of Facebook which will help fuel the popularity of Google+.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. You can notify friends of who you’re hanging out with and they can choose to drop into your chat.

Sparks — Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose, in over 40 languages. Add your interests to Sparks and the tool will provide you with the videos and articles that would be of the most interest to you.

Google+ Mobile — Cell phones have become the ideal outlet for sharing information with our contacts. They are always by our side, always connected to the Internet and simple to use. Even in its beginning stages, Google+ has superior mobile capabilities. Now available on Android Market, the mobile Web and the App Store, Google+ allows users to announce their location, upload multimedia and join in “Huddles.”

Location — With Google+, you may choose to add your location to every post. Like FourSquare, this is a good tool for letting your friends know what you’re up to and recommending places for them to visit.

Upload Multimedia — Google+ has made sharing videos and photos from your phone to the Web effortless. Using Google+’s mobile feature, your photos and videos are uploaded automatically from your phone to a private album on Google+ that you can then moderate. After they are uploaded, all you have to do is decide who to share them with.

Huddles — Huddles is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place. Think of it as a texting conversation involving as many of your friends as you like.

Privacy — For those who are concerned about their privacy on social media websites, Google+ is a breath of fresh air. Google+ allows you to share any information on your profile selectively. For example, you can choose to show your occupation to business contacts but not your relationship status. If you only want your friends to be able to see your phone number, simply set up this information in your “Friends” circle only. A tip is to create a circle specifically for people who you don’t personally know and set restrictions on what they can and cannot view on your profile.

Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn

Every business strives to increase profitability and remain relevant and competitive in their industry. In order to stay competitive in today’s business world, you must use some form of social media. Social media marketing and advertising techniques can help increase your revenues, communicate with customers and remain a competitive force in your field. With so many options out there, it is best to focus your attention and time on what is most beneficial to your business. For those interested in making professional connections, networking and reaching out to other businesses, LinkedIn is the site for you.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest business-oriented service, allows members to network and keep in touch with their business contacts. Businesses should think of LinkedIn as a giant networking event. This is especially beneficial for B2B industries. The site allows you to search its database for people at a company to whom you are somehow connected and send a virtual introduction through one or more immediate connections. LinkedIn helps build stronger personal relationships to facilitate more direct contact and business opportunities.

Always make sure that your LinkedIn business profile is as close to 100% complete as possible. Upload a professional photo, add to your network frequently and keep all business information and staff up to date on your business page. This makes it easier for other businesses, potential clients or partners to find your company.

Design your profile with your audience in mind. Don’t write lengthy descriptions of irrelevant jobs that you’ve worked for in the past; your LinkedIn page is not your résumé. (LinkedIn has a separate section for that.) Potential clients and business partners won’t benefit from seeing every minor detail of work experience from years ago. Focus on job titles, major achievements and the names of companies you’ve worked for. You may also add a video from YouTube to your business page.
Here are a few tips to make your LinkedIn page stand out and get your business noticed

Add video — To add a video, go to your company page and click on “Services” at the top. Select “Add a Product or Service,” then scroll down to the bottom of this page to step 10. Here, you may add your video, a title, keywords and the required fields. Another hint is to change your LinkedIn URL. When you create a business profile on LinkedIn, you’re given a random URL. To enhance search engine optimization and boost Google rankings, you can change the URL to something simpler, like your business’ name. You may customize your URL here: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/public-profile-settings.

Make connections — The more connections you have, the greater your opportunities become. One tip is to use the LinkedIn toolbar for Outlook to easily invite all of your Outlook contacts to connect with you. You may also export your LinkedIn contacts to Outlook or your Gmail address book by saving the details of your connections as a CSV file. You can then import this file into any other email program.

Advertise — There is also the potential for advertising on LinkedIn. You can target your audience based on company size, industry, gender and geography. (See our Advertising Spotlight for details.)

Use recommendations — Always give recommendations and testimonials to your contacts and request for them in return. These greatly enhance your profile by giving potential clients and business contacts a clear indication of the quality of your company’s work.

Communication and interaction are essential to your LinkedIn success. Update your status whenever there’s an update in your company. Likewise, keep an eye out for others’ statuses for something to start a conversation with or build a connection. Build and join groups and enhance the conversation with your expertise. You may communicate easily with group members by sending emails. This will portray your business to others as an expert and leader in the field. Send emails to group members, post conversations from the group to Twitter and Facebook, interact in the discussion area and pose and respond to questions. Use of the Answers feature spreads your name and profile around to people who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to it. By answering others’ questions, you show authority in your field and others may then look to you for advice. Answer only questions you can answer well. If you wrote an article, add it to one of the web resources boxes.

LinkedIn Today — A new feature the social media site has launched is “LinkedIn Today,” a program that surfaces the top headlines and stories being shared the most by members. Articles are grouped into different industries and the trending articles for each industry will appear at the top. This feature gives users an organized way to consume the top trending news in a particular industry. Having your company’s article appear on LinkedIn Today is a great way to gain exposure and share your professional insight. Make sure to post exceptional, thought-provoking content in your articles to maximize the chance of showing up at the top of this section.

LinkedIn Application for iPhones and Android Phones — Another LinkedIn breakthrough is that now users have the option of downloading the LinkedIn application for iPhones and Android-powered phones. You don’t have to be sitting in front of a computer screen to use LinkedIn. Professionals can now easily access and share industry news and articles and post headlines more directly from their cellular phone.

Stay active — Maintaining your LinkedIn page and checking for updates may be time-consuming, but it is necessary for success. Instead of logging in every time you want to check your profile, install the Google Chrome LinkedIn toolbar. This toolbar makes it simple to respond to contact invitations, comment on your contacts’ updates and more.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.

Networking Magazine

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