LinkedIn Persona
A recent study showed that 41% of small business owners use LinkedIn. It is one of the most valuable tools for business to business networking, personal brand development and business development / sales. To insure your personal and company’s success, make sure you are following the right steps.

The $70 Million Man

The first thing to remember is that social media is about developing relationships and communicating. A Morgan Stanley advisor once used LinkedIn to land a$70 million account. Wow! How did he do it? Cultivating an existing relationship and growing from there. Although these results are atypical, you can use social media to achieve a great level of client engagement and selling success. How big will your contracts be with social media marketing?

Look at Me

I am sure you are not a vain person, but you need a professional picture for LinkedIn. Do not use a recent picture from your Florida vacation with the kids and spouse cropped out. Spend a few dollars for a picture atTarget or JCPenney. If you want to save money, use your iPhone and ask a friend to take the picture for you. Benchmark your photo with that of other professionals in your industry. For best results, get a head shot with a winning smile. Remember: this is not the place for “selfies.” Leave that to the teenagers.

I am the Man!

Look at Them

Don’t just join a group: participate with them. Joining groups are like going to holiday parties: you can’t be at all of them, so select which ones are the most important. Post questions and respond to others. The same rules apply online as in the office: do not be political or offensive. Post fact based opinions and comments that benefit others. LinkedIn is not the venue for “airing your dirty laundry.” If you feel especially assertive, start a group for like-minded professionals: Financial Advisors – Indianapolis, Technology in Public Schools, Blogging Professionals are some examples. As the administrator, you will be introduced to dozens of professionals with similar interests.

Look at This

Just like in kindergarten, sharing is important on LinkedIn. When you find an interesting article, use the plugins to share it publicly. If appropriate, share it with certain groups and / or individuals. Social media issocial. I have met dozens of people at parties and networking events who said they enjoy the articles I share on LinkedIn. You will be recognized as an expert in many areas and fields of study. My posts show that I am active in the conversations. What are your posts saying about you?

Look at Me…Again

Vanity URLs: is a vanity URL. You should use these on Facebook and Twitter also. These social sites assign you a series of random numbers, letters and characters as your “website.” To set up a special URL on LinkedIn, go to “settings” and select public profile. This will allow you to choose a specific name for your LinkedIn page. Use your name, your company name or special phrase that is unique to you. Tip: stay professional: is probably already taken.

These four steps probably sound like work. They are. However, it should not be a lot of work. After you have set up your profile, invest 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each evening building connections, reading articles and participating in conversations. LinkedIn is a great way to generate leads and build your personal brand.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

Next Week: 4 Parts of Social Media Policy