What is LinkedIn?
So, what is LinkedIn? Essentially, it’s a website you can easily find on Google.
You could also describe LinkedIn as a professional networking site.
- Just like with any other network you may know of; you have to register to participate.
Registration is completely free and you can participate in LinkedIn community without paying anything for as long as you want.
Free registration is a big positive difference compared to many other professional and business networks out there like Chamber of Commerce, BNI, Industry organisations and others, where you have to pay for membership before you get access and can communicate with other members.
Of course, LinkedIn offers paid membership as well offering more benefits in exchange. Read a separate article about paid LinkedIn membership here.
It is really easy to join LinkedIn because it’s all information that you know off the top of your head! All you need to fill out is:
- Your Email
- Your Password Choice for LinkedIn
- Your First & Last Name
- Country, Region, Post Code & then it will ask for your location within this area.
- Your most recent job title (a.k.a the job title of your current job) or if you’re a student.
- More information about your most recent job (title, employment type, company)
- Your Industry of most recent job.
If you want to start bulking out your profile, LinkedIn will prompt you to also add more information to set up your profile, but of course, you can skip these parts:
- Let LinkedIn know if your searching for a job
- Connecting with people who have similar job titles or in the same industry.
- Add a photo of yourself
- Follow Companies, people (high profile like Bill Gates) & hashtags.
These snippets of information will essentially fill out the basic areas of your LinkedIn profile.
Why Join LinkedIn When You're in Business?
There are many different reasons why you may want or even need to join LinkedIn.
Most people join LinkedIn for one of these key reasons.
When you own a business, you may want to join LinkedIn in order to:
- Stay in touch with business and professional connections you already have,
- Connect with others in your industry,
- Find people with expertise you need for your company,
- Find new staff members by posting jobs on LinkedIn,
- Find prospects so that you can grow your business,
- Do targeted market research and PR.
Finally, as a marketer or a sales professional, it’s becoming common place to be part of LinkedIn to:
- Do market research,
- Gauge feedback,
- Do lead generation,
- Promote your products and services,
- Do PR,
- Showcase products & services you promote and sell.
When you want to know more why your business should employ LinkedIn as one of your marketing channels, read 14 reasons why your business should be on LinkedIn.
As an employee, you may want to join LinkedIn in order to:
- Connect with others from professional development view point,
- Understand the job market,
- Claim your authority and expertise so that you become a known expert in the field,
- Find new employment.
OK, I Joined, What's Next?
Once you joined there are three important steps you will benefit from. These can be done immediately or shortly after you’ve joined.
Just because LinkedIn is a digital network and all your connections are remote, rather than in one room, does not mean regular networking principles should be voided. In fact, if you will apply time-tested networking principles to LinkedIn you will do exceptionally well. For one, you will stand out from the crowd because most people are ignoring them.
Step 1. Connect With People Who Know You Already
Imagine you step in the room of a conference or social gathering. Would you make sure to meet and greet those you know first or complete strangers? What if you know all 100 people gathered there, say at a wedding? You will do your best to say “Hello” to as many as possible, wouldn’t you?
The same rule applies to LinkedIn.
Imagine that you just joined LinkedIn. No one knows yet, which is because no one can see you and that creates a misleading situation, as if no one cares.
On the contrary, people who know you want to ‘see you’, have a chat and celebrate your success, much like it will be in a case of physical social gathering. They will gladly do that only if you will ‘announce’ about your arrival.
The logical way to announce your arrival to LinkedIn is known as ‘sending a connection request’. You do this every time you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn. Think of it as the electronic equivalent to a handshake. Just like in real life, there are slightly different emotions and words used when you handshake with someone you know well, versus a stranger you’ve just met.
As everything in digital world, LinkedIn has the power to help you connect with people you know straight away. This is how it’s done.
Immediately after joining, LinkedIn will offer you the opportunity to send a connection request to connect with everyone you are already connected through sending emails from the email address you joined with.
There is a smart way to identify all of the email addresses you are conversing with through your email and find their LinkedIn profiles. It will only take a few seconds.
You can decline and connect with people now or later on in your LinkedIn journey.
You can also choose whom to connect with because LinkedIn will show you a long list of your email connections. So, if don’t want to be connected with your dentist or insurance agent on LinkedIn, you can exclude them from your connections.
Bottom line is, sending a connection request is like a digital handshake to say: “hey, I’m here”.
If you want to know the social norms of who to approach, how to connect and how to accept connections from others, read this special article.
Step 2. Introduce Yourself
In our physical world, when we catch up with the people we know, one of the first question’s everyone asks is: “How are you? What have you been up to?”
And when you meet someone new, shortly after initial chit chat, there is a moment when you are asked, or you ask: “What do you do?”
Sound about right?
LinkedIn is a networking site and helps you to answer questions, like above, 24/7 by offering you a dedicated web page, known as LinkedIn Profile.
This is where you can ‘show your face’ (with a photo), introduce yourself, share your achievements, etc
Can you choose not to fill in your LinkedIn profile? Of course, you can!
You don’t cover your face when you come to a social gathering, do you?
You don’t stay silent when a fellow professional asks you “How are you?”
You don’t ignore people asking “what do you do for a living” when you’re face to face with them.
So why do this digitally?
When you have a poor LinkedIn profile with limited information, it’s like saying “I don’t want to be here. I don’t what to connect with anyone. Don’t touch me. Don’t talk to me. Leave me alone”. And nobody wants to talk to that person.
When you are joining any network, you do this for a reason: you want to connect with others. The way to succeed in any network is to participate. LinkedIn’s participation formula comes in three steps: Connect + Profile + Converse.
So far, we have covered the Connect and Profile parts of LinkedIn’s Formula.
To find out more about the LinkedIn profile and how to fill one yourself, visit this article.
Have you been on LinkedIn for a while? Are you curious to know how your Profile stacks against some of the known best practices?
Step 3. Communicate
Let’s relate LinkedIn to a physical social or professional gathering again as its easy.
Imagine you step in to a room full of strangers along with some people you know. You greet those who you are familiar with and meet a few strangers. You share your news and conversed with many.
Let’s say you are coming to the same gathering once a week, or maybe even once a day.
And every time to visit this community, you get the chance to say something. It can be an opinion, some news, a piece of education or clarification about you, your business or anything else in life.
Some of us are fortunate and can talk ‘off the calf’, whereas others require preparation before speaking – even in front of a small group. Sometimes you need to do research before sharing certain information. Finally, every time you have to dress up for the occasion.
Sound familiar? I’m sure you can vividly imagine the scene.
Now, let’s look at LinkedIn where everything seems to be different. Reality is that this is actually very much the same. Once you ‘translate’ the digital world into the networking events you’ve been to so many times in your life, you can see just how easy it is to use.
Why and How Do You Share Your Point?
You can make a statement or share your views about anything legal on LinkedIn. The mechanism to do it this called a POST – just like Facebook.
What Is a Post?
A post can be a combination of text and an optional image or video to support the message you’re sharing.
Everyone can type in what they think and attach an image or video to help with the communication.
You can do this on your Home page and this activity is known as POSTING.
Who Will See Your Post?
Good news is that everyone connected to you can see your post, and they are able to respond by adding a comment which you can later see and reply, creating a dialogue seen by everyone.
Bad news is that only people you are connected with, will see it first. They have to be on LinkedIn within few hours after you posted, because otherwise your post will become less visible behind newer posts.
Why is this bad news you may ask? Because if you want to tell everyone about your big accomplishment or new product or anything else, i.e. when you want the whole world to know, it is truly limited to people connected to you and only IF they happen to be on the LinkedIn around the same time.
SAD? WHY BOTHER?
I beg your pardon, why frown upon the situation?
When you are in a social, real-life situation, you too only get a chance to speak to 10 out of 100 participants and you don’t think it’s wrong. The digital world is much more the same, even though it looks and feels different.
By the way, like in real life you may repeat the same story on the same gathering few times, there is no harm in repeating your message more than once on LinkedIn either.
Can Anyone Not Connected With Me Even See My Posts?
Of course. The mechanism to make it happen called SHARE.
Anyone (including you) can SHARE your POST, which will effectively mean that everyone connected to the person sharing will see it. It’s the same as if you share your story with a friend and then they tell it to others and so on.
There is no limit on sharing and a good post can be shared many times.
You might have heard about VIRAL POSTS. These are posts that got shared many times, 100,000s or even millions of times because they are funny or relevant to many.
VIRAL POSTS are a goldmine of modern digital marketing and you can read more how to make your posts more viral here.
Why and How to Share Your Opinion?
Most people have strong opinions – especially professionally. They are also usually willing to share their view point when they hear a conversation that is about their subject matter expertise.
On LinkedIn many people share their opinions through POSTS.
You can see these messages, news and opinions from others on your LinkedIn Feed under the menu option: ‘Home’. When you want to contribute, you can see there is a line for a COMMENT under every post. This is the place you can add your 2 cents worth to the conversation. If relevant, the original author will respond.
Keep in mind these conversations are public, so anyone can see them.
How to Ask a Question or Ask for Help?
Again, as in real life, when you need something you ask.
On LinkedIn you can POST a question, raise a concern, ask for help or a recommendation. The possibilities for posts are endless.
Some people like to share their positive outlook on life through posts, others create an attraction through their posts.
Choosing the right types of posts, the tone of your voice for those posts and creating interesting posts are the subject of a different article you can find here.
To make sure you are never stuck for ideas on what to write about, check out 37 content ideas
This is a very straightforward introductory article about LinkedIn. I feel this article is long overdue because these days it seems everyone appears to know what LinkedIn *actually* is and there is a lot of attention devoted to how to post, what to post, etc.
Yet, speaking to hundreds if not thousands of business owners every year, I discovered that even in 2020, there are people who are not sure or are confused around the digital jargon. So much so, that they are genuinely embarrassed to ask the simple question of “What Is LinkedIn”.
In fact, let me correct myself, they don’t even know what they should be asking. They simply smile and choose not to participate in conversations around it or nicely say: “I feel too old” or “We don’t need it”, “We are doing well without it”.
On a conference “Your Business Your Asset” in Christchurch in Nov. 2020, Bill English said something along the lines of: “Someone not being able to use computers can no longer be acceptable by businesses, because this person slows down the team more than business can now afford.”
Bill’s statement is true.
If you are in business or if you are running a business, you have to keep up with times. You do not need to become savvy in every aspect of technology out there, because you don’t need half of it. You do not need to be the best user of any of it because you can employ people.
Yet, you can’t afford not to understand the key positions of the changing world and you have to understand enough to be able to make an educated decision when you are faced with a solution by someone way more technical. In super simple terms, you need to know enough about these technologies or social platforms to make a decision if it was something you need for your business. (This will be added when we have a quiz or article)
I wrote this article with a single purpose: to answers questions (in my estimate many) people are too scared to ask. Your business will benefit from discovering that social networking is closer to real life networking you know – than what you thought just 10 minutes ago.
COMMENT below if you have learnt something new from this article.
I encourage you to ASK more scary questions because we are determined to help people in business, just like you, to learn more and be better equipped for 2021 and beyond.
Scared to comment where others will see your question? Reach out to our firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a link to an article or a video answering your question in finer details.
Smarketing Lab Co-Creator,
developer of profitable B2B solutions to grow your business.
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