This is a high-level introduction to LinkedIn, who is using it, why you should check it out and how to get started.
Every year you probably attend a dozen or more conferences, seminars, luncheons, and dinner parties where you have the potential to connect with new people. You shake hands, introduce yourself, exchange business cards; it’s good old-fashioned, offline networking.
But how do you ensure you’re staying in touch with those business connections? Will they remember you and what you do the next time you meet, call or send an e-mail?
Connecting with someone on LinkedIn is the online equivalent of exchanging business cards, except with LinkedIn, your connections are automatically kept apprised of your activities and business developments, so long as you are actively updating your profile.
Put very simply, LinkedIn is like Facebook for work. Facebook is the place where you connect with friends and family and post status updates about what you did this weekend. LinkedIn is the place where you connect with colleagues, clients and potential business partners and post status updates about the product training seminar you attended this morning.
LinkedIn allows you to create your own online profile where you can post your professional experience and areas of expertise, and connect with people you know. Once someone is added to your LinkedIn network, they will be able to see whenever you make updates or post new information.
A great feature for agents: people can recommend you by writing a testimonial about you. That way whenever someone comes to your profile page they’ll see x number of people recommended you and they can read what they had to say.
The example above shows how having a presence on LinkedIn can enhance your offline networking efforts. Here are some other reasons to participate:
Think of LinkedIn as a tool to help people find you and help you find people who like you, trust you and want to do business with you.
LinkedIn has approximately 80 million users. Compared to Facebook and other social networking sites, the demographics of LinkedIn tend to trend more toward older and higher earning participants.
According to an April 2010 survey of 551 financial advisors, 67% reported having a profile on LinkedIn. Compare that number to 43% on Twitter and 40% on Facebook and it appears that LinkedIn is the preferred site among financial advisors and insurance agents.
You have four basic options for establishing a presence on LinkedIn:
Personal Profile – This is like an online resume and digital rolodex rolled into one. You can post your specialties and works experience etc. and connect your profile to profile of friends, colleagues or clients. “Know” is the keyword here. Trying to Link to people who don’t know you is considered SPAM in this world. Example Profile
Company Profile – If you have an agency, you can create a company profile. This would list the products and services your company offers, contact information, special offers etc. Just as people can link to your personal profile, they can also become followers of your company profile. Example Company Profile
Groups – You can also join groups on LinkedIn or start your own. Groups, in the LinkedIn sense, are collections of people organized around a common or shared idea or activity. So, since you are an insurance agent, you might want to join the Independent Life and Health Agents group or the Senior Market Sales group. Typically people join groups to participate in discussions with their peers or just hear what others have to say about topics of interest to them. Example Group
Answers – You can also ask and answer questions in the Answers section. Answering questions is a great way to establish yourself as an expert on a certain topic and connect with new people. If you go to the answers section and type Medicare in the search box, it will return 500 questions relating to that particular topic.
Listen to an audio replay of Genworth’s webinar: Using Social Media to Grow Sales.