In the most recent LinkedIn Diaries article, I highlighted critical activities that you need to take offline to optimize LinkedIn success. However, to ensure that LinkedIn helps you achieve your goals, also take the following steps to establish a strong LinkedIn foundation:
1. Define your goals. As a LinkedIn user, you should be able to clearly articulate your primary goals for using LinkedIn. From working with senior executives across industries on their LinkedIn strategies, here are the most common individual goals, ranked from most important to least important:
- Stay connected with an existing network of peers
- Extend personal networks through existing sources
- Build a reputation as a thought-leader
At the same time, senior executives recognize the importance of using LinkedIn to achieve organization goals. The three most important include:
- Provide an image that attracts talented professionals
- Be recognized in an industry as a thought-leader
- Generate discussions that will lead to referral business
2. Review current profiles. Regardless of your goals, review the LinkedIn profiles of those people and companies:
- You admire the most
- Who are your current/potential competitors
- That you are targeting
Take this opportunity to use the “Follow company” functionality so that you can keep current on new developments related to that company.
3. Take note of “Settings”. Far too many people skip this tab. In this section, users are able to define items such as who gets to see their updates, e.g. the content in that Twitter-like box on your home page and on the pages of those you are connecting with. Whether you’re a new or experienced LinkedIn user, you should define your settings based on your goals. For example, if you’re using LinkedIn to find your next career opportunity and are connecting with a range of competitors or search firms, you may want to turn off your activity updates. Similarly, if you’re looking to expand your network, you may want to adjust your privacy controls so others can see your name and headline when you’re viewing their page.
In the next LinkedIn Diary entry, I will share insights from two high-profile executives who effectively leverage LinkedIn to achieve their company and individual goals.