You’ve probably joined LinkedIn, meaning that you threw a profile up a while back. But are you using LinkedIn effectively (or at all) to find and reach out to your best prospects?

LinkedIn is my favorite—and the largest—online social network for business because it’s made up of real people with accurate profiles, and because it’s all about business—the perfect place to announce the new project you finished or your latest blog post or thought leadership piece.

Most important, no matter who your prospects are, you’re almost sure to find them among the more than 135 million people who have also posted their profiles on what is essentially an international database of professionals.

Linkedin people

YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

First, you need to make sure your profile is current and complete. Here are the most important profile elements for creative professionals:

  1. Tweak your headline. That’s the short line of text right under your name. Unless someone is on your actual profile page, this is all they’ll see, so make it descriptive, clear and, if possible, compelling.
  2. Write an engaging summary. This is the second most important element of your profile because it may be the first (and perhaps only) part of your actual profile that your potential contact will read. Find it directly below your basic profile information. The goal of your summary should be to engage your best prospects.
  3. Solicit recommendations. Recommendations about you or your work—also called endorsements or testimonials—are important because what other people say about you is often taken more seriously than what you say about yourself. The more recommendations, the better.
  4. Highlight your work. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the typical LinkedIn profile resembles a résumé—it’s almost all text. But now there’s an app you can use to display work samples right on your LinkedIn profile.

YOUR LINKEDIN NETWORK

Once your profile is ready, the fun begins. Don’t wait for people to link to you. LinkedIn is most effective when you actually use it to find and reach out to your best prospects by building and cultivating relationships, which is what marketing is all about anyway. Focus on these two areas:

  1. Add connections. This is your personal network, which should always be growing. Add at least five connections to your network each day.
  2. Find the right groups. This is where the real action is on LinkedIn. The goal is to find the LinkedIn Groups where your prospects hang out so you can get to know them and vice versa.

[Via HOW]

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