LinkedIn is arguably the most powerful professional social media platform. However, it is the most under-utilized and certainly the most under-appreciated of all the social media sites available today in the travel industry.
Because people still view LinkedIn as a glorified job search website.
LinkedIn is also not as “pretty” and dynamic as Facebook and Twitter, so many professionals tend to ignore its amazing powers. And lastly, professionals resist LinkedIn because they think of it as another social media “time suck.” And who has time for another distraction, right?
So before I share tips with you on how to leverage LinkedIn to actually see its value, let me first get one thing clear:
LinkedIn is not just another social media platform. It is a powerful business development tool that can expand your network, increase your exposure, and add to your credibility.
LinkedIn is not just another social media platform. It is a powerful business development tool that can expand your network, increase your exposure, and add to your credibility. If used correctly and consistently, you will attract business opportunities to you like a magnet!
Sounds juicy, right? It is!
Ready to learn more? Here we go.
Here is what you need to know to get started with leveraging LinkedIn:
Build a Magnetic Profile
Imagine showing up for an event with no business card or a business card that was outdated. Would you do that? Your LinkedIn Profile is your online business card. But more than a business card, this is your space to showcase and share your accomplishments and tell your visitors what your business is all about. Two tips for building a magnetic profile:
A. Use keywords in your headline, summary and experience section that are relevant to your business. For example, the below professional is an Italian Tour Operator:
Notice how many times she uses ITALY in her headline. She continues to use Italy throughout her entire profile as much as she can so when LinkedIn Users search for something Italy related, she will likely come up!
B. Share your story in your Summary Section. And by story I don’t mean using over-used words like “results-driven” or “proven-track record.” I also don’t recommend talking about yourself in the third person. Rather, show a personal side. People want to connect with you. Your profile is not a company description and a laundry list of accolades and awards (although you do need to mention those!). Your Summary is your WHY. Why do you do what you do? Who do you serve? Adding a personal element can be scary and unfamiliar territory for many – but this strategy is incredibly effective.
Build a Strong Network
LinkedIn doesn’t work if your network is small. And by small I mean fewer than 500. The LinkedIn “magic” doesn’t really start happening until you reach 500 + 1st degree connections. And by “magic” I mean prospects and opportunities finding you vs. you seeking them out. Naturally, the best way to get started with connecting is to start with your own organic network. But, where LinkedIn gets really interesting is when you start connecting with key influencers, potential clients, key decision makers, etc.
Now I know what you are thinking, “But Vanessa, how I am suppose to connect with someone I don’t know!” And my answer is twofold:
- LinkedIn is one big networking event – but it’s online instead of offline. Would you show up at a live (offline) networking event and just stand in the corner? Or, would you not attend a networking event because you didn’t know anyone? No! That’s the point. You want to meet new people, introduce your business and expand your network. LinkedIn serves the exact purpose – but online.
- The best way to connect with a professional whom you don’t know, is to simply join a LinkedIn Group that s/he is a member of. If you share a mutual group, LinkedIn will allow you to connect. Ta-da! **Important: when requesting to connect you must always change the “canned” LinkedIn response that is provided for you. Always write your own personal message.
Engaging in LinkedIn means posting in the status updates, liking and commenting on your connections’ posts and also contributing to discussions in LinkedIn Groups. Engaging also means private messaging potential joint ventures and prospects to get the conversation started. The same rule applies here as other social media platforms: the more you give, the more you get. Share great content, be positive and most of all – be consistent.
With a little bit of focus, time and effort, you can leverage your professional network to grow your business exponentially. But there is a catch: It will take time. This is not a one-hit-wonder social media site. This is not the silver-bullet to your marketing strategy. But, if you embrace the many benefits and opportunities that exist for you on LinkedIn, you will see results.