Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 2, 2014

Network with others online and in real life

Goshen News

---- — One of the interesting aspects of digital media and social networks is that you may “meet” people online and develop a working relationship but only later meet them in person.

In social slang, the opportunity to finally have a face-to-face meeting with a online connection is called IRL (In Real Life). Whether it’s a vendor, supplier, or potential partner, digital media has opened up the access to network beyond the borders of city, state, and country. For myself, one of these “IRL” events happened recently at a conference. I attend the New Media Expo in Las Vegas in early January, which is a massive melting pot of social media experts, digital marketers, website hosting companies, podcasters, video and web TV producers and more. It’s basically a tech geek’s slice of heaven to learn from, meet with, and see some of the latest emerging trends and technologies.

At New Media Expo, I was privileged to meet up with Neal Schaffer. Neal lives in Orange County, Calif. and we had connected on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn via common connections and reading each other’s blogs. Neal is a “go-to” social media business consultant. He’s been named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row and is a global social media speaker who also teaches as part of the Rutgers University Mini Social Media MBA Program. As an author, Neal is best known for his book on social media strategy creation, implementation, and optimization “Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success,” and he has also published two other social media books specifically focused on LinkedIn.

I had the opportunity to sit with Neal and hear firsthand tips for business success on LinkedIn. Here’s a review of tips for professionals on LinkedIn pulled from my video interview with Neal.

Optimize your profile

The first key for your LinkedIn profile starts with using a professional photo. LinkedIn is not the place for your family picture or a company logo. This is you as a business person.

Next, be intentional about your headline. Your name, photo, and headline are your “brand” presentation on LinkedIn! This should be concise, descriptive, and creative. As well, in the summary area, be sure and be thorough. The goal is to differentiate yourself in your summary from others. Be sure to write to showcase your uniqueness.

It’s similar to Facebook in one aspect, how you present yourself matters. People do business with people, so present your best personal points forward on your LinkedIn summary of qualifications and experience. This is your qualifier area for people seeking out your product or service and whether they will have interest in contacting you. This is where it’s different from Facebook. People are not on LinkedIn to see what their friends are doing. They are on LinkedIn to search for partners, suppliers, and vendors for their business needs.

Just like people use Google search, and results for related search queries are returned, so on LinkedIn the content in your profile is searchable, so be sure to help your profile be found by creating more data points in LinkedIn search. You can do this by listing all of your former employment places. Neal Schaffer takes his profile all the way back to high school. You never know what former classmate is now CEO of a large organization looking for the services your business provides!

Increase connections

Neal’s advice: Connect with everyone you know! Connect with friends, clients, and be sure to connect with people you meet at events. LinkedIn only grows in value as your network grows. This helps expand your audience and in particular your “visibility”, because when you post an update on LinkedIn your entire network has the opportunity to potentially see that update. This means that the more connections you have, the more visibility of what you are doing is available to a larger audience.

Engage regularly

Try to be active each day on LinkedIn by sharing some nugget as an update that can be of value to your network.

Some social media tools like Buffer, allow you to schedule a post to your LinkedIn profile ahead of time for example. The key is to offer real value from your expertise and experience. Do not sell, simply offer value. LinkedIn is not a place to press your latest sales discount, it’s a place to showcase your expertise.

A final tip from Neal is that, whenever possible, personalize your invitation to connect on LinkedIn. As I’ve found on other occasions, the opportunity to have a “IRL” meeting with a business connection met through social media can be very valuable. For the full 10 minute interview and list of tips, visit: www.mikegingerich.com/nealschaffer.

Mike Gingerich leads the Digital Marketing and Social Application divisions of web company, Digital Hill Multimedia (http://www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions. For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.