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Haven’t made a dime on LinkedIn? A lot of people on LinkedIn haven’t made a dime from it. Chances are you haven’t made anyone else money either. In expanding your network, the main point is to help you phone or meet someone who may be able to help you in whatever it is you are trying to do. The flip side is you need to help others meet their needs too. Until you think of helping others get what they want, you won’t likely get what you want.

LinkedIn is just a tool, albeit a powerful one if you have a use for it and know how to make it work. If you are good at what you do, it amplifies it. If you suck, it amplifies that too. We’ll assume the former and give some pointers on how you can make it work more effectively for you. If you find yourself wondering how to better use, derive benefit or get value from this tool, the following suggestions might prove useful. Don’t forget the basic rule of being of service to others.

Online is online. Compared to meeting someone in the real world, it is much easier to connect with someone online. The flip side is that it is much harder to develop a relationship. Always keep this in mind and prepare to put in a solid effort to turn what looks like a good connection into a relationship.

The key is to then connect on the phone and in person if possible. One strategy is to email new contacts or call active LinkedIn members if you are in town for a conference or meeting.

But remember that sending an email is not going to be enough to get you business.

Focus is key. There are hundreds of online networking sites and tools so you should focus on one and put in a solid effort to make it work.

If you choose LinkedIn as the one, then develop a strategy around it. This does not mean that you should not use other online networking sites. If LinkedIn is your main one, as part of your strategy, you should have all your other profiles point to LinkedIn. Go to Web2List for a list of networking sites in case you want to see some others.

As part of your strategy, have a public profile and include your LinkedIn profile on your signature footer and other communication documents you use (ie. fax, website, blog).

Focus on actively connecting with people you want to know through those you know and start building productive relationships.

Share, share, share. The more information you share on your profile, the more searchable you become in the database and more chances you will be able to make a real connection with someone. There is a weird non-linear effect that kicks in. One you get past a certain threshold by putting enough good searchable content in your profile and get enough active connections going, the search engines start giving you a better ranking. The higher ranking increases interest in you and your traffic goes up so you add more to your profile and there is a snowballing effect that works to your benefit.

Some specific tips:

  • You should also customize your public profile URL to be your actual name
  • Use LinkedIn’s new Answers feature to help others and gain exposure
  • Include your LinkedIn profile link on your blog, faxes, letterhead, business cards
  • Utilize all the links you are allowed to incorporate on your profile.

Set a policy and process and get a life! You should establish a policy and think in terms of running processes to achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself while helping others achieve their goals.

Here are some policy suggestions:

  • Send only customized requests for connections,
  • Forward requests only if they are specific and contact the recipient in advance before forwarding any such requests,
  • Spend no more than 1 hour a day on LinkedIn,
  • Read people’s profiles before contacting them.

Here is an example of a simple 2 step process based on the policy you have set:
1. After you meet someone at an event, check your LinkedIn network to see if you know anyone in common or share a common interest,
2. Send them useful information that is relevant to their business and request a meeting or ask for their permission to connect on LinkedIn.

Get involved on forums, read books and interview people on how they benefited from LinkedIn. There are advantages to becoming involved with some of the behind the scenes activities. Join the MyLinkedInPowerForum on yahoo and interview people with more than 5 endorsements and 100 contacts. This is a place you should feel free to ask for help.

Get Endorsements for your profile. You should think of getting at least 10 endorsements on your profile. These third party endorsements will carry weight, especially if the person checking your profile holds the person giving the endorsement in high esteem.

Create a list of ways you can use LinkedIn to your advantage. Most people focus on selling and miss out on a many great benefits that include:

  • contacting or identifying media,
  • proactively helping others in your network,
  • researching competitors by contacting former employees (by a company search),
  • reconnecting with past colleges,
  • gaining competitive insights into the company by interviewing past and current employees,
  • learning a company’s buying habits and policies by interviewing current or former staff.

You won’t make money from LinkedIn without being clear on how to use this highly effective networking tool. Turning connections made online into productive relationships is something you need to know how to do effectively and work at. LinkedIn provides a great shortcut to make initial connections with people who can help you, but you need to do extra work to make the connection something more than an email exchange. And don’t forget that givers gain.

Tatsuya Nakagawa is president and CEO of Atomica Creative Group Ltd., a strategic product marketing company based in Vancouver Canada. He is a big fan of LinkedIn, yet uses it no more than an hour a day. He has thousands of connections, plenty of endorsements, maintains his profile diligently and gets great mileage. Peter Paul Roosen has an engineering background and founded numerous companies including firms involved in locomotive and plastics manufacturing, computer software and marketing. He is another kind of LinkedIn user, more of a leech. He uses it occasionally, hasn’t filled in his profile after two years on it, prefers to approach rather than be approached and believes he is not alone in this.

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