Whether you call yourself a small business owner, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur, chances are you are always thinking about your business and where to get more of it. One place to look: LinkedIn.
I've been on LinkedIn for a while now, and I have hundreds of contacts. And yet I'm not using this valuable tool as much as I should. If you're job hunting or looking to make new business contacts, there's no better place to start than with the contacts you already have. Here are a few simple tips to enhance your LinkedIn experience:
1. Take a great photo. If you're in a particular field, have your photo reflect it. If you run a doggie day care, for example, have Fido in the picture with you.
2. Create your title. I'll confess I struggle with mine quite often as I wear many hats. One great resource for this is Jason Alba, whose website I'm on LinkedIn-Now What is a one-stop shop when it comes to everything LinkedIn. Once your profile is up to date, visit his site (or buy his book) to take it to the next level.
3. Join groups. As a basic member you can join up to 50 groups. Many corporate recruiters post jobs within groups, so join the ones most relevant to your line of work. Sign up to receive daily or weekly updates. LinkedIn will notify you via email when new content is posted. Introduce yourself to your new group, start conversations, and become a trusted expert there.
4. Add skills to your profile. This is a new LinkedIn offering and it's still in Beta (look for it under the more tab). You can add the skills you want to be known for (e.g., press kit writing, graphic design, HTML) and when a potential employer or client searches for these skills, your profile could come up. Although when I tried this, the first few professionals listed had 500+ contacts, leading me to believe that the more contacts you have, the more likely this is to work for you. You can also pull up job listings related to a particular skill set.
5. Track your industry. The news section is a great way to track the headlines relevant to your industry, your clients or your competition. LinkedIn serves up the top stories daily on your Today page, which means you don't have to hunt around the Internet looking for them.
Do you have a LinkedIn success story to share? Please leave it here in the comments.