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How to make the most out of LinkedIn

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Photo by Paul Flessland

“Not enough people view social media as a way to further their professional goals,” says Kirsten Jensen, founder and digital strategist at Next Action Digital in Fargo. As part of the FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s Business Training Series, Jensen will be giving a presentation called “Leveraging LinkedIn” that will help attendees identify ways that they can use LinkedIn to better tell their own professional story, as well as add value to the rest of their network.

Jensen’s talk will focus on three main topics, which she summarizes here:

1. Connecting: Kirsten Jensen: “I get asked a lot of questions about this when I’m working with people. Some people have a really open networking philosophy and really will connect with anyone. Sometimes, people go all the way to the other side and are really picky and think hard about whether they like a person or if they want to be associated with them. Other folks are in the middle. I consider myself kind of in the middle. The filter that I use for my LinkedIn profile is: If you were to look at my profile and say, ‘Oh, I see you’re connected to so-and- so. How do you know them?’ If I can answer that question, then I feel comfortable connecting with someone.

“If it’s a sales connection, I decline those without any guilt. I want my LinkedIn network to be people who I can recommend in some way, shape, or form or people who have similar passions as me.”

“It’s really about understanding what you want to get out of your experience with LinkedIn and then building your connections according to that. When it comes to connections, the single biggest tip I have for people is to add a to-do to your daily or weekly list of “next actions” that is: Have I met someone today or this week that I should be connecting with on LinkedIn? For me, that’s something that has made a big difference.

“If you can just look at your calendar for the day or for the week and make those requests and just say, ‘It was really nice to meet you.’ That’s organic and can help keep some momentum going with your profile.”

  The book Getting Things Done
What’s in a name? Next Action Digital

Jensen’s company is named for a productivity process from one of her favorite books, “Getting Things Done.” In it, the author, David Allen, argues that “next-action” thinking should replace the way most people think about productivity.

“An example would be if we needed to go to the dentist,” Jensen explains. “We’d put ‘Call dentist’ on our to-do list, but if we don’t know the phone number, our real ‘next action’ is looking up the phone number.

“I think that happens a lot in digital, too, so a big part of my focus is helping people move from having ‘I need to tweet today’ on their to-do list to coming up with things like, ‘I’m going to search the #ilovefargo hashtag and interact with people.’”

2. Investing in your network

Jensen: “If you are a leader in an organization, you can use LinkedIn to post messages of pride of accomplishment about your team, and the strongest way you can do it is by creating status updates and actually tagging people.

“It can be a partner you worked with on a project or it can be a team member. When you do it, you can be pretty certain that the person will see it because—just like on Facebook or on Twitter— they’ll get a notification if you tag them. But then it can also be seen by the network of people connected to them, and it can initiate a conversation.

“One of the best success stories I had with that was when I was at Onsharp and we launched the Family Healthcare website. I tagged the three folks I had worked with on the project and just said, ‘It was such a pleasure to work with you,’ and it was really nice because two of them came back and posted really nice thank-yous about how much they liked working with our team. So often, it’s hard to take time to do that, but the fact that I said ‘thank you’ first and recognized them, they took a minute to write a sentence or two. And there’s no better social proof than that because it’s coming directly from them.

“It’s about taking that time to invest. I’ll likely talk quite a bit about posting and tagging but then also doing recommendations for people. Or even just using it as a tool to send quick notes.

“One of the founders of LinkedIn wrote a book called ‘The Startup of You’ and in it he talks a lot about how you can provide value to your network.

So there will probably be some points from there, in terms of giving those small gifts of information or time that reminds you of folks—to keep building and strengthening that network.”

startup-of-you-fargo-inc

3. Keywords & telling your story

Jensen: “I’ll talk about the importance of writing a good summary and about the importance of using keywords to help people nd you.

“Oftentimes, when you search someone’s name in Google, the first thing that will come up is someone’s LinkedIn profile because it has strong search trustworthiness—’domain authority’ is the technical term. And so in addition to just using your name or your brand, it can be really powerful to start using keywords.

“Some of those keywords or terms can help increase your likeliness of being found—even when people are searching directly in LinkedIn.

If you optimize for keywords on LinkedIn, it makes you more likely to be found more quickly because the domain authority is already there versus the time it takes for that to happen on your own website. So there’s a lot of power there.

“Then there’s just making sure that people think about—if you’re on a nonprofit board or if you do a lot of volunteering for an organization— making sure that you tell those stories through your profile. It’s also an opportunity to give recognition to those nonprofits because it’s good exposure for them, and it can be a simple way to raise awareness for the causes that are important to you.”

Social sales

Jensen: “One of the things I want to open the presentation with is examples of successes my clients have had with different things that they were trying to accomplish in their job.

“One of my favorites is when I was working with RDO. They got these brand-new 3D mapping drones, and the project we were working on was actually creating content for their website because they hadn’t yet talked about any of these products anywhere digitally. And they sold the first two drones off a LinkedIn post before they even made it into the store all because the GM had done a fabulous job of building his LinkedIn connections.

“The guy who purchased those first two drones happened to be someone the GM had interviewed a couple years before for a job and was a guy he had a good connection with. He had moved several states south and now was in a position where he was in a purchasing role for the kind of technology that (RDO) was selling.

“The lesson learned was that while the GM had done a really good job of investing in and creating his network, he had never talked about their products or any of the things they were doing, and it was when he started doing both that it made a huge difference.”

Event Details
Leveraging LinkedIn: It’s Not Just for Jobseekers
Wednesday, December 14
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cambria Suites
825 East Beaton Drive, West Fargo
Registration includes lunch and is $27 per person in advance and $32 at the door for Chamber members and $40 in advance and $45 at the door for non-members. As a bonus, all attendees have the option of getting a new head shot taken to use on their LinkedIn profile. Join the event on Facebook for updates and event reminders. This training qualifies for two CPE credits for the ND CPA Society.

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Written by Nate Mickelberg

Nate Mickelberg is the former editor of Fargo INC! He holds his master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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