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10 ways to Beat Your Competition on LinkedIn

Author: Dan Sherman   |   November 24th, 2011

Sure you can connect with family on Facebook and reply to friends on Twitter.

But there’s only one social network that allows you to connect with both friends and family, while also meeting prospects and potential clients. 

Use these ten tips for setting yourself up to beat out your competition.

1. Find a job on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the place where you can find professionals on social media. Yes, Facebook can be great for graduates and Twitter for media but LinkedIn reaches people who haven’t got time for lots of social networks. A lawyer, banker or accountant will check their LinkedIn profile periodically but very seldom would they even have a Twitter account. So from a mere reach perspective LinkedIn is your best bet.

This means most recruiters and HR departments are using LinkedIn to find candidates already. So you can actually be found via one of their searches, or you can actively network your way to opportunities within companies. And you can of course have a look at the Jobs section to make it really easy on yourself.

2. Scan what people are saying about a company or topic
A little known feature of LinkedIn is what’s called LinkedIn Signal. It’s basically a search tool for status updates on LinkedIn. You can search for your company name, your field or location or even a combination of them all. LinkedIn will tell you who is talking about the keyword, including people up to 3 degrees away from you. Signal is located under ‘News’ in the main toolbar.

3. Stand out over your competitors
How do you stand out? By being useful to your network and by sharing interesting and valuable information; and by not selling your products and services all the time. Your network probably knows what you do and they are likely to let you know when they have a referral for you, so it’s better to get mindshare – creating daily awareness and staying visible.

4. Create a good daily LinkedIn routine
Most active LinkedIn users have a LinkedIn browser window open all day but they mainly use LinkedIn as a database. I would make a habit of sharing an interesting piece of content every day, checking out the events section for relevant networking events, engaging with other users in Groups and generally keeping an eye on the homefeed to keep my finger on the pulse. This only takes a few minutes every day. I would also answer questions every day in your field.

5. Run a successful group on LinkedIn
There are over a million groups on LinkedIn, many of these were set up by recruiters. If you look at what makes a group successful it’s all about creating a strong community. One idea is that when it’s set up, make it ‘exclusive’ in some way – graphic designers in Denver for example. This just makes more of them want to join. Assign a team to run the group and to seed conversation, moderate discussions and share interesting content.

The number one gripe people have with groups is that they get too much spam emails so make sure you vet all members, only send relevant email updates and do not tolerate any blatant promotions from members.

6. Use your company page to attract customers
The LinkedIn company page is your company’s number one branding tool on LinkedIn. There are lots of things you can do here such as write up a description of the company, add contact details, insert your Twitter feed, link your blog posts to the page, add your products and services, ask for company recommendations and check out the visitor statistics. Prospects are likely to check out your company page so make sure it represents your brand fully.

7. Include the essentials on your profile
There are four essentials on an individual’s LinkedIn profile; they are your picture, headline, summary and keywords.

Your picture should look professional and reflect your brand. People like dealing with faces as opposed to just text – studies show you get 30% more clicks in search results when you have a picture.

The headline (along with your name and picture) is what comes up in search results and based on this the user will decide whether to click on you or the competitor. Make sure the headline talks about what you do and not who you are. ‘Logistics expert’ works better than Owner, ABC Company.

Your summary is where people go to see what you are all about and what your track record in the industry is. If you get someone to take time to check this out you will want to add contact details at the end and not leave them hanging.

Finally, you have to get the right keywords on your profile or you will not come up in any searches. Yes, you might come up in searches for your name but let’s face it if someone already knows your name you already have a foot in the door. It’s better to come up in the search for “logistics” or “graphic design.”

8. Connect with people outside of your network
There are lots of ways of connecting with people outside of your network. You can join the same group as this person which allows you to connect directly most of the time. You can do an introduction through a common connection. This can take a bit of time but usually works. If you have a premium account you can send an inMail or you can actually buy inMail credits in a free account for $10 each.

The best way to connect is actually outside of LinkedIn. Set up a call and pick up the phone and call the person, or if you don’t have the number you can probably guess the email address and try that. It’s all about being creative and just because you found someone on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you have to approach them through LinkedIn.

9. Upgrade your account when you are ready
This depends on how you are using LinkedIn. Many people don’t use inMails, Profile organizer or require additional search results. If you do pay for an account make sure you make the most of it. I have the premium account and I find it’s worth it.

10. Use applications to attract business
You can use SlideShare to share presentations of your company or about specials or promotions you have on at the moment. You can use the Amazon Reading list to show off your extra-curricular interests.

Use TripIt if you travel a lot and actually want people to contact you to have a coffee in various locations. You can use Google Docs to get video on your profile and if you blog you should definitely integrate the Blog Link application. Remember that every time you make any changes to your application, your network gets notified which is usually a good thing.

LinkedIn can help you achieve all your professional goals. If you need assistance, please get in touch with me about my one-on-one training, seminars and webinars.

About Dan Sherman
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