Discover these simple strategies to help you to expand your online business network...
Get Connected and link yourself in!
If you're looking to expand your business network, and let's face it, who isn't... then LinkedIn may be the just the tool you're after.
A purely business-oriented social networking portal, LinkedIn allows you to expand and develop your online network of contacts without leaving your home or office.
Most effective when combined with the more traditional networking opportunities such as breakfasts and luncheons, LinkedIn brings together the three most powerful business ingredients of people, knowledge and opportunities, in its virtual world, and gives you the opportunity to capitalise on these factors in real life.
Working on the principle of 6 degrees of separation, LinkedIn offers savvy business people an economical and time effective way of promoting themselves and their businesses.
So... what is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site that was launched in May 2003. Used mainly for professional networking, LinkedIn has more than 500 million members worldwide and is the world's largest PROFESSIONAL networking site. The major benefit of this site is that it allows you to connect and communicate with trusted contacts while providing a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.
Top 6 ways to expand your business network using LinkedIn
Upload your contacts from Outlook or your e-mail software for Gmail etc. LinkedIn will then perform a search in it's powerful database to find those contacts so that you can invite them to join your network.
Advertise your LinkedIn profile on your website, email marketing signature (all outbound emails) To add your signature to your email simple go to Settings in Gmail (OutlookMy Profile --> E-mail signatures to set one up.
Post comments and replies on message boards and be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn profile page. You may choose to link them directly back to your website or blog. The best thing to do is to register what we refer to as a "campaign domain name" like www.Bees2HoneyPot.com and create a free giveaway (after registration) on what's called a "landing or capture" page. This is a very clever way of building your database and adding new targeted prospects straight into your marketing funnel.
Join groups - your main goal here is to become a valued asset within the groups that you join and you can do this by contributing as much information as possible. Groups are one of the most powerful tools available in the LinkedIn networks. Maximise this opportunity by sharing your thoughts and ideas and offering professional advice based on your expertise! ... The aim here is to position yourself as a valued member of the group community whose experience and knowledge is trusted and coveted.
Be found - make sure that you use "keywords" in your profile description so that others can find you easily. It's easy to forget sometimes that your profile is on the Internet and can be found by Google search engines...so make it keyword rich rather than trying to perfect your profile with fancy words.
Givers Get - Everyone would like more referrals and recommendations so why not start by giving them to your valued clients and colleagues first. This will encourage others to reciprocate and you can start building your profile and online reputation rapidly.
Here are 2 Additional Bonus Tips...
Ask a question in the public questions (under the answers tab) and be sure to include your email address so that others can expand their network.
With over 43,000+ members, TopLinked and OpenNetworker are worth a look. These open networking groups within the LinkedIn (TopLinked) and all the major networking sites (OpenNetworker) systems bring together the most linked people on any networking site ... so visit http://www.toplinked.com or http://opennetworker.com and explore the largest open networker groups. Dubbed as the most helpful and connected people on any networking site, these "open networkers" claim that their system offers the fastest way to build a larger, more diverse and more valuable network on LinkedIn.
TopLinked gives you a number of options, including free and paid opportunities within their network on LinkedIn. For example, Free Participants are able to network with the other group participants AND receive access to the TopLinked.com "Invite Me List," whereas the paid OpenNetworker site gives similar opportunities but across all of the top social networking sites including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Academy, Xing, Bebo, Blue Chip Expert, Fast Pitch, Friendster, hi5, Konnects, Affluence.org, Naymz, Orkut, Perfect Networker, Plaxo, Ryze, Tagged, UNYK and Viadeo.
First Impressions Matter:
Like any form of marketing, it's worth considering a plan of attack before leaping in and creating your account and profile without giving it any thought.
Think carefully about your profile and the message you want to send to people viewing your profile. Make sure that you have a professional photo to place on your profile and don't use the photo from your last family BBQ. In preparation to building your online profile on LinkedIn, here are a few questions that you might like to ask yourself.
What is my expertise?
What would I like the LinkedIn community to ask me for right now?
How do I want others to view me and how do I want to be positioned in the eyes of this online networking community? ... the list goes on but we hope that this stimulates some "food for thought" to get you moving.
Click here to find out more about how FastTrack eMarketing can help support you in your quest to generate more leads and boost your business using LinkedIn today!
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Marketing Mentor Bill Doyle from AltitudeCommunications.com.au publishes the popular 'My Marketing Mentor' weekly eZine with thousands of subscribers from around the world including solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs and business owners.
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