Since Linkedin was named the number one social networking site for business, it has moved from a sleepy backwater in the social media world to a rapidly growing powerhouse. No longer do I get questions from friends and business associate that start with a puzzled look and go something like this, “Why would I want to be on Linkedin?”
Now I admit, the economy probably has something to do with that. With even the seemingly most secure job now looking a little shaky, people are flocking to upload their credentials on this site.
But for entrepreneurs and other freelance professional, Linkedin has always been a great spot to be. And there are quite a number of those active in the green world already there. So, if you haven’t yet joined or aren’t quite sure how to maximize your presence, here are a few tips.
1. Before you post a profile, take a look at a few of people you know. Try mine – notice how I feature an award I won for “green” in my professional headline. Other people include their phone number or email. Many in the sustainable businesses include their business name or if it doesn’t connote “green” add key words like “eco” or “green”. Google does pick up Linkedin profiles so including key words in your Linkedin profile means you show up in Google searches as well as Linkedin searches. Don’t’ worry if your profile isn’t perfect, you can update as often as you like and while Linkedin does notify your network that you have made changes- it doesn’t say what they were (helpful if you make radical changes to your job history.)
2. Find Connections – Once you join Linkedin you can upload your address book to find your current connections. There is also a search function that will show you people within a company in your network, as well as, people by name. I make it a habit to search for people on Linkedin whenever I meet someone, read an interesting article or come home with a stack of business cards. The broader your circle of friends, the larger your network since connections who work in different areas tend to be connected to different people.
3. Add Applications – On the right hand sidebar you’ll find hundreds of applications you can add to your profile. This is a great way to keep your network informed about your activities. You can feed your blog posts, your twitter stream and your feed from many other social networking sites to Linkedin. I particularly like the Slideshare function where you can feature presentations you have given
One application that I find helpful is the Questions and Answers. You can subscribe to a number of different topics including “Sustainability”, “Marketing”, “Finance” and “Start-ups”. Linkedin Questions is often the first place businesses go to find consultants and vendors.
4. Join Green Groups – There are hundreds of groups on Linkedin, many of them dedicated to discussing issues that impact sustainable businesses. Find one for you by clicking on the “groups” on the left sidebar. You can also create a public OR a private group that fits your needs. Private groups work a lot like Google or Yahoo groups. When you join an established Green group you can have group updates delivered directly to your email box. I scan these on a regular basis and often jump in the conversation. This is a great way to find new clients and customers as well as vendors.
5. Update What You are Doing – Like with any social network, keeping your profile up-to-date and actively engaging is key to using it successfully. Stop in on a regular basis to let people know what you are “working on” and answer questions or upload new applications.
I know many of you are power users of this great networking tool. What are your suggestions?