If you're like most of us, you probably have a LinkedIn profile and a slew of (or at least some) connections there. But are you leveraging LinkedIn to the best of its abilities, as both a marketing tool and career resource?
If you aren't sure, you aren't alone. Indeed, many of the 16+ million people who have signed up on LinkedIn are probably asking "now what???" says Jason Alba, who wrote the aptly titled, "I'm On LinkedIn, Now What?"
Alba experienced firsthand the difficulties of conducting a job search after a corporate downsizing in 2006. Drawing on his computer-software and IT experience, Jason analyzed the job search process and developed JibberJobber.com to assist others on the hunt. Eventually, he started to look at the various social-networking tools, including LinkedIn, with an eye on how they can similarly help professionals.
Recently, Jason Alba presented a virtual seminar for MarketingProfs about how marketers can use LinkedIn to enhance personal brands, help with research, and secure access to new networks. Here's some of the 22 keys he covered.
Q: What are a few good strategies to use to grow your network on LinkedIn?
A: It depends. If you want to go crazy and get a really big network fast (I'm not recommending this, but for some people it works), you can go to a site like TopLinked.com and find lists of people to connect with. Realize they won't know you, and can't "network" with you, but you will have a pretty big network fast. I haven't done this because it's not how I'm choosing to grow my network and create real relationships.
I would recommend you email people in your address book and ask them if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. Either invite them to invite you, or ask for permission... but you should get a number of good contacts quickly.
Also, if you have a newsletter, mention it in there. I've seen people include in most newsletters something like "I'd love to connect on LinkedIn, please let me know if we can connect" or "invite me" or something like that.
Ann Handley is chief content officer of MarketingProfs, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Ridiculously Good Content, and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules. Ann co-founded ClickZ.com, one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary.