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Of the big-4 social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, I believe that LinkedIn is the most underutilized. Many consider it to be an online resume, and it is, but it also has so much marketing potential that people leave largely untapped.
Sure, LinkedIn can offer a snapshot into the benefits of hiring you as an employee or consultant. It has such a huge and powerful database that your LinkedIn profile is usually one of the top results when someone Googles you, and I've heard that people are actually using its PDF conversion tool to produce their resumes these days. As long as you've committed the time and effort into developing a complete profile, there is maybe no better way to represent the benefits you bring to the table right now.
But it is equally as powerful as a personal marketing tool. It provides many opportunities for you to demonstrate your expertise, cement your place in your industry, and create professional introductions that can turn into business potential.
Group participation is an easy way to raise awareness of yourself. Pose a question for discussion, answer another member's question, and post interesting news items. The key to maximizing Groups is participation. You'll get little value out of them if you don't read and respond to posts.
Answers are similar to Groups, but participation is open to the entire LinkedIn community, whereas participation within Groups is limited to their membership. Like Groups, however, successfully using Answers a business tool revolves around your commitment to participation. Monitor the questions people ask within your area of expertise, and answer as often as you can. This soft-sales technique can help distinguish you as a helpful leader in your field. You can also pose questions in industries outside your area of expertise, For example, a small business owner may pose an employment question within law & legal / employment & labor law.
Polls are a great way to sample the LinkedIn community about any issue. It's easy to create one, and the statistics are surprisingly robust and insightful.
You can also gain insight into the business models of your competitors or the internal hierarchy of a company you're trying to sell something to or gain employment with by utilizing the Companies component. Imagine how much easier it is for recruiters these days than pre-LinkedIn.
LinkedIn also has terrific aps that can enhance your profile. I like the Slideshare ap to upload presentations and videos that help promote my brand. I also like the TypePad blog ap, which seamlessly integrates my blog posts with my LinkedIn profile.
These are just a few of many ways you can use LinkedIn to promote yourself. So how about building a little time into your schedule each day to tap into LinkedIn's powerful marketing potential?
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