As we continue our Social Media 101 series, we turn our attention to the platform used most by business professionals: LinkedIn. LinkedIn was revolutionary when it first launched, encouraging professionals to expand their network by connecting with professional colleagues on a platform that was not littered with snapshots of babies, puppies, and breakfast plates.
Although this professional network has evolved over time, it remains one of the strongest platforms for authentic professional networking and engagement.
- Organic growth – A business professional can start with nothing, and link with like-minded businesses and people to develop their network. It only takes a simple search to be discovered.
- Knowledge sharing – LinkedIn offers the opportunity for professionals to establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. Businesses can showcase their unique expertise and benefit from the shared information of others.
- Cost-effective – This platform is free for a basic account, but even the premium account is reasonably priced. For small businesses on a budget, LinkedIn is the perfect avenue to do research, establish creditability, and improve visibility at little or no cost.
- Increased exposure – The best marketing strategy is one that leverages existing content. An article written for LinkedIn can be shared on a company’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the increased internet exposure means higher search engine rankings.
- Time–consuming – Building a beneficial network of like-minded professionals takes time – just like building relationships in person. LinkedIn may be a social media platform, but there is no instant gratification.
- Hands-on – To really cultivate strong relationships, you must spend time on the platform, getting involved in groups and contributing insights to discussions.
- Illegitimate networks – Even within what is considered to be a professional network, some people use the platform for less-than-ethical purposes, which is why LinkedIn encourages you to connect only with those people you know and requires you to get an introduction to connect with someone outside of your network.
- Spam – There’s no escaping it, even on LinkedIn. You will find some people are only there to further their own interests or make a buck. It’s easy enough, however, to remove them from your network or block them if necessary.
Despite the drawbacks, there are many benefits for individuals and organizations willing to invest the time and effort into developing their LinkedIn presence. It is the most powerful platform for building your professional credibility, and if you are a new graduate or early professional, your LinkedIn profile may be more powerful than your résumé when reaching out to prospective employers.