Making the Most of Linkedin for Professional Networking

When we think of social networking, we tend to think of the FaceBook and MySpace sites, where people from all corners of the earth can meet, chat and share pictures.  The problem with using these sites for business is that they attract a lot of clutter and time-wasting applications. While many businesses maintain a presence on these social sites, it is rarely productive in terms of generating genuine opportunities or networking with other professionals.

What many people do not realize is that there are similar sites for businesses, allowing people from all over the world network and meet. Sites such as Xing, Ecademy and Linkedin are prime examples of this, places where professionals can meet, share ideas, develop partnerships and build an online presence. We are in the age of globalization and outsourcing, so these professional networks are essential tool for businesses and freelancers wanting to operate on an international stage.

Linkedin – Generating a Web of Connections

Linkedin is the leader in business networking sites and it has attracted an extensive web of interconnected professionals and businesses. The site works like FaceBook without the intrusive applications and games, giving it a slick and simple interface. The site has over 50 million users across the world, bringing a variety of skills, experience and financial muscle to the table. Users vary from individuals looking for work, to big players looking for venture capital or investment opportunities.

The idea behind Linkedin is extremely simple and the site operates upon the tried and tested basis of business networking, a phenomenon existing since trade began. The site allows you to connect to your immediate business contacts and look for secondary and tertiary connections, allowing you to find professionals through recommendation rather than luck. Linkedin is filled with groups built around specific niches, allowing professionals to share information and interact.

The beauty of the network system is that others are doing your recruiting for you. If one of your immediate contacts is aware that you need an excellent marketer, they may have one in their network of contacts. Likewise, you do your best to help others, and this symbiotic approach ensures that everybody gains. Like all networking sites, the benefits are largely related to the amount of work that you put in, but the process is much easier and cheaper than visiting conferences and trade fairs.

Linkedin is excellent for matching freelancers and service providers with vacancies, allowing businesses to find the best-fit candidate for their needs. Equally, a freelancer or jobseeker can upload a resume, enter some search keywords and advertise their services. Whether you are looking for permanent employment or freelance work, Linkedin is a useful resource.

There are Five Golden Rules of Linkedin:

  • Profile and Personality: Brand yourself early and be consistent. Fill in your profile fully, with a photo, and make it clear what you offer and what you need. Many businesses put up a dry resume or aggressive advertising, and miss the point of the site. Think of Linkedin the same way as you would a business lunch; you should be professional, and also display a little personality.
  • Share: Remember, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Join groups, be helpful, share your expertise. Check out the Groups Directory to join communities of people who share a common experience, interest, affiliation, or goal.  Be free with information if you think that you can help people. Gaining a reputation as a source of help and expertise will soon attract contacts and publicity.
  • Ask and You Shall Receive: Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations or advice from contacts. That is what the site is about and nobody will be offended, as long as you do not start trying to hard sell. Be equally free with your time and offer help to others.
  • Widgets: Linked in offers hosts of useful profile widgets, allowing you to upload presentations, include polls and a whole range of other applications. Regularly updating this type of content keeps people visiting your profile and projects an image of involvement.
  • Q&A: The site contains a question and answer section, like an up scale version of Yahoo answers. If you find questions within your area of expertise, spend a little time answering them. Apart from raising your profile, you will become regarded as an authority figure in your field and the connections will flow.

Hubpages – Using Writing Sites for Generating Business

For small businesses, writing sites, such as Hubpages.com, are a great way to advertise products and service, or generate a little passive income. For writers and marketers, Hubpages offers the twin benefit of generating Adsense with putting a portfolio online and attracting direct custom, taking advantage of the site’s high page ranking. Many freelance writers advertise their services on there, putting up a portfolio of work and finding buyers via the excellent Google visibility.

The site has a strict policy preventing over-promotional and spammy articles, so Hubpages is regarded as a high quality, authority site. For generating a little extra income, many people on Hubpages make money by writing articles targeted at attracting Adsense. Whilst this is a numbers game, and requires you to write at least a hundred informative and targeted articles, it is fairly easy to make triple digit payments every month. The top performers reach four figures, although they work very long hours to reach this level!

Joining the site is easy, and the help pages and forums are filled with useful advice on how to get started.

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