Is it time for you to rethink LinkedIn?

I’m being stalked by LinkedIn. Just today it sent me personalised news, endorsed my skills and connected me with a new business partner. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop ignoring it so rudely.

I was preparing for a call with a potential business prospect. After a brief look at his website, my next step was to look him up on LinkedIn. Then, straight after our call I had a connection request from him, demonstrating that he’d also turned to LinkedIn to suss me out. It struck me that LinkedIn has suddenly become part of doing business.

In this month’s edition of Fortune magazine, Jessi Hempel’s article “LinkedIn: How it’s changing business (and how to make it work for you)” tracks the meteoric rise of the network. She writes:

“In the past year LinkedIn has emerged as one of the most powerful business tools on the planet. Once considered a nerdy repository for digital résumés, the service is becoming an indispensable social-networking tool.”

Often overshadowed by the friendlier Facebook, or written off as just for job seekers and recruiters, LinkedIn is fast evolving into an effective networking and marketing tool for small business, particularly those in professional services.

If you don’t have a profile, or it’s a tad neglected like mine, Hempel goes on to outline some simple steps you can take to get LinkedIn working for you:

  • Fill out your entire profile. Take the time to describe the skills demonstrated and illustrate the results you have achieved.
  • Get involved. Join groups, request written recommendations from colleagues, and recommend the people with whom you’ve worked.
  • Follow news. LinkedIn lets you subscribe to the people, companies and topics that matter to you.
  • Broadcast. Share the information that illustrates your professional expertise.

Even if you’re sceptical about putting energy into yet another online network, it’s worth getting your head around LinkedIn before making a decision. My bet is that – long term – it will prove a successful way to build your professional profile, and your business.

The article author is convinced: “… eventually nearly everybody you or I know will have signed on. Even those of us who are not active social networkers will cave in on occasion to those ‘Please join my network’ requests that gather in our inboxes.”

Is LinkedIn working well as part of your business strategy? Or is it yet another distraction?

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