It takes eight seconds to catch somebody's attention; eight seconds to engage them and keep them hooked; eight seconds to sell yourself - or your business - to potential customers and clients. Social media sites like LinkedIn allow for those eight seconds to be used to their fullest potential.
On Wednesday, Curt Anderson, business adviser at the Small Business Development Center, gave a presentation on how to use the business-focused social media network LinkedIn to network and establish new clientele.
"It's not who you know, it's what you know about who you know," Anderson said. "Information is priceless."
Curt Anderson, business adviser at the Small Business Development Center, gives business owners tips on how to effectively use LinkedIn
P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach
When creating a LinkedIn profile, it is important to establish oneself as a problem solver and establish trust. By becoming a problem solver and a person who can be trusted, a relationship builds.
"People want to do business with their friends," he said.
Using relevant keywords allows search engines to locate your profile. Anderson said search engines love social media, showing that in Google, his LinkedIn profile is the third option that pops up when ads are removed for the keywords "business advisor in Jamestown NY." For search engines Bing and Yahoo, he is the second option that appears after the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce.
When creating a profile, the first thing which should be added is a catchy headline, a good photo and contact information. Why should this profile be viewed? How can you be contacted? Email, phone, Twitter and websites are all possibilities which should be included, when applicable. Why should anybody want to know you, let alone do business with you? These are just some questions which should be answered when putting the bones down for your profile and building your own personal brand.
"What value does your background have here?" Anderson asked. "What problems can you solve?"
Just like when writing a resume, display your goals, mission statement, passion and purpose. Lay out your jobs, and don't leave gaps. It's OK to brag a little. Just like how a resume is used to sell yourself to an employer, this should be used to sell yourself to the people with whom you are trying to connect. Include activities you do and like to help establish a potential future shared connection.
"Here's my tip - when I send out that connection out, please, please, please don't send that canned response that says 'Hey, would you join my network please?'" Anderson said. "Send them a value message. ... Think about things that would help establish that connection."
Also give referrals - by showing a random act of kindness, it helps strengthen current relations and they might return the favor. Also, don't be afraid to ask for one.
"How cool, what a little ego boost it is sitting there on somebody's profile," Anderson pointed out. "... That's what it is - you're building trust, using that random act of kindness. It's a favor."
Finally, create a company LinkedIn page. It can connect all employees and can become the company blog. Post any press releases, news, pictures and videos - use it as a recruiting tool.