I can’t let this chance to invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn pass.  Can I?  LinkedIn boasts that it is the World’s Largest Professional Network and… I can already tell some of you are yawning even as I imagine you reading this.  Alright.  I’ll try to make it snappy, give you some good content and be about my business.

I know for a fact that a lot of you aren’t even sure you’ve got a LinkedIn account up and running and half of you are neglecting yours.  Let’s fix that.  I believe you are missing out on some huge opportunities to expand your business and career and here’s how you can fix it.  Do these eight things today.

1.  Update your profile.  This should be your top priority. As your online resume, you want to include relevant information and your past experience that will help you stand out above your competitors. Include details that will make a prospective client want to work with you. Include a professional headshot and your current contact information. Grab your names.  If you haven’t already done this, get on LinkedIn and grab your name and your company name (they are more selective with these) and edit the URL on your profile so it reads with your actual name. If you leave what LinkedIn automatically does for you there will be lots of extra numbers and characters which confuse people.

2.  Always include a headshot.  This may appear to be obvious, but you often see pages without a picture. Unlike your Facebook page, this picture should be a little more “professional.” Obviously professional is defined differently based on you and your company, but use good judgment. Creativity can work, but can also backfire.  Generally, LinkedIn is NOT the place to express your creativity.  Use Twitter for that.  Or, even better, Facebook.

3.  Connect to all of your current contacts.  Build your own LinkedIn community by connecting with anyone and everyone you know. Use your Outlook or Gmail database to help. The more connections you have, the more secondary connections you will have, which will allow you to view more profiles, and expand your personal and corporate network.  This is a “dig your well before you’re thirsty” kind of thing.  The time to network is before you need to network.  You never know who you’ll meet online or whom you’ll need to call on one day.

4.  Join groups.  Join groups that are applicable to your business and the connections you are trying to establish. Joining groups allows you to stay on top of market trends and important information within your field.  This is the best way to get your name out there in your field.  And don’t just join.  Participate.  Talk.  Give feedback in discussions.  Post your blog articles.  Just don’t spam.  Spamming will get your posts blocked or get you kicked out of groups.  You don’t want that.  Trust me.

5.) Use LinkedIn as a prospecting tool.  Use LinkedIn as a “search engine.” Search for companies you are interested in, and then find out who the key personnel are. Once you find the right person, send them an email via LinkedIn. Often a message via LinkedIn comes off as warmer than a regular email. Additionally, your message won’t get mixed in with the 300 other emails that person receives daily.

6.) Get recommended by your customers.  A recommendation on LinkedIn is very powerful, and a great addition to your profile. It demonstrates to prospective clients that you are an expert in your field. Even a short paragraph of 100 words can have a powerful impact on your reputation. Encourage clients to recommend you; keeping in mind that a great way to get someone to recommend you, is to recommend them first. The positive energy they get from you may lead to them writing an even better recommendation for you.

7.) Expand your LinkedIn reach with Twitter.  There is a little checkbox at the bottom of your “Share an update” box that copies everything you share with your Connections to all of your Twitter followers.  Use it. Perhaps you’ve been wondering what else you can tweet about anyway.  Well, here you go!

8. Supercharge your Job Search.  Here’s a bonus. If you’re looking to use LinkedIn to improve your job search, check out these additional notes specific to helping boost your job search:

Here’s a final encouragement for you if you’re an online marketer.  I’ve always experienced better feedback (i.e., sales) from my LinkedIn community more so than from my Twitter or Google+ and, for some things, it’s even better than Facebook.  My experience is that people come to LinkedIn expecting to do business as opposed to expecting to exchange recipes and cute videos of cats.  That’s a powerful thing that you can put to use with just a little effort.

Good luck!

Mark Anthony McCray helps people live on PURPOSE, achieve higher PERFORMANCE and experience true PROSPERITY.  Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss a thing and forward this to a friend if you found it helpful. All material © Copyright, Mark Anthony McCray unless otherwise noted!

He can be reached in the following ways:
Twitter: @LiveBIGDieEmpty
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LiveBIGDieEmpty
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markanthonymccray/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103149858138414160703/posts
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/markanthonymccray

For more information on Mark as a speaker or presenter check out http://www.gigsalad.com/mark_anthony_mccray_houston