I was in a client meeting not long ago when the use of LinkedIn was mentioned.
“I hate LinkedIn,” a meeting participant said. Here’s why I think that’s a mistake:
1. Search plays a big role in the management of your reputation. When someone googles your name, (particularly if your name is unusual) your LinkedIn profile does appear.
Whether you like it or not, if you have created even an incomplete profile, it will show up in search engine results. If you have no profile at all, you are only frustrating the person who is trying to locate you (and what if they have a really great business deal or offer to extend to you; what then?)
2. Recommendations are third-party endorsements that say that you are who you say you are. Think about it; you wouldn’t hire someone to do plumbing or painting at your home without a referral from someone else, right? It speaks highly of you and your business to have a few recommendations from clients and colleagues visible in your searchable profile. (They’re also good to read if/when you’re having a really bad day.)
3. Avoid that awkward blind-date scenario by allowing a new business contact (with whom you’re meeting for the first time in person) to see you and know a bit about you beforehand. It’s a courtesy in today’s business world, and expected. A fully completed profile should have a photo of you so if you’re meeting for coffee, your contact will know who to look for.
4. Maybe it’s not you (maybe it is), but someone in your company is responsible for website traffic. Give them a leg up by listing the company website and going the extra mile by giving it the right name instead of accepting the default settings of “My Company” and/or “My Blog.”
5. LinkedIn is easy; it’s people you know (not those you don’t or those you used to know, long ago). It’s not scary and does not have the privacy issues that Facebook often faces. No one plays games like Candy Crush or posts quizzes on LinkedIn. It is a social network designed for online business networking; that’s it. Its simplicity and clarity of mission make it an important component of your overall social media strategy, whether that strategy is personal or on behalf of your brand or company.
LinkedIn has stood the test of time and consistently added smart upgrades to remain current but true to its original purpose. Don’t hate LinkedIn; it’s there for you to use to succeed. See you there.