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Without a doubt, LinkedIn has evolved to become one of the most powerful business tools online. You, too, can use it for your advantage if you equip yourself with the understanding of how it works. In this Back-to-Business Monday episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard share some tips and tricks for using LinkedIn as the perfect platform to network your brand or business. If you are a professional serious about putting out the real you, you must ideally learn how to market yourself. Tom and Tracy also tackle on deciphering a connection and a following and how these two impact your profile. Learn more from them as they share additional ideas on bagging that perfect and marketable LinkedIn profile.
Listen to the podcast here:
How to Use LinkedIn for Business
It is Back-to-business Monday and I thought we’d talk about how to use LinkedIn for business today. We use LinkedIn to our advantage very well. I use it a lot because I find it as a great resource for finding guests for the podcasts. It is also a great source for exciting stories and profiles to write about for my Inc. articles. I use it all the time. I have some people there, where I feel like we have established a working relationship via LinkedIn of collaborative sharing of each other’s work. It’s not something that I intentionally say, “Hey every time you share something, I’ll re share it. You do the same for me.” It doesn’t happen like that. It just naturally happens because of the way in which you tend to post and the way in which you cultivate your connections.
A lot of these people I haven’t even met in person. I have connected to people in LinkedIn that we have met and we know personally in business, but there is many more that I have not. Yes, typically though, I find that I really end up having most of those people I have met in person, become friends with me in Facebook. It tends to merge that way. Only if we have a more direct interest in the same kinds of industry, do they also LinkedIn to me. It just depends on where I am meeting them. I separate the two a lot. Those that aren’t involved in industries or areas where I am not interested in are those that I don’t find them on LinkedIn that often. But those of us that have common interest tend to connect to each other on LinkedIn.
Here are some of the tips and tricks to our audience, as to how they can use LinkedIn for business to their advantage:
Taking LinkedIn Seriously and Have a Good Head Shot.
You need to take in LinkedIn as a business professional seriously, if you are looking for a job, if you are a consultant, you need to be professional about this. It needs to have an image, and that image needs to be professional. It’s not something like you’ve shot in a bar with a selfie. It is different. This is not your typical social media profile. It needs to be professional and stay professional here. That’s the number one thing
It should be a professional head shot. It should not be something that you have taken up with your phone. It really shouldn’t. There are a few people in there who are in the 3D printing community and they have their 3D printed heads as there head shot. It’s an avatar. If you’re a cartoonist or something, then that’s okay and that makes sense. But I have one on my connection page that I’m probably just going to disconnect because they have a picture of their product as their profile. I don’t like that, because that is too promotional, and I’m going to disconnect that.
If you are not willing to be real on who you are, then you have to put something else as your image. Unless if you have a very odd industry, then that will make sense. But it’s not a place for your logo. There are company pages you can use LinkedIn for business with, and that is where your products and logos belong.
The next thing is that, in your profile there is a summary. That summary is really critically important. Unless you are not really diligent in updating it all the time, then you should not do it. The summary should really sound like a bio that belongs at the bottom of some guest blog post. It should be something that you are going to put on when you are going out to do promotional stuff of some kind. It shouldn’t be too long. It should be about three sentences. It should cover the big highlights in who you are and what you do. It shouldn’t be a, “I’m currently looking for a job.” It shouldn’t be anything like that. That is not the place in your summary.
There is a connection I have on LinkedIn who has nothing to do with the 3D printing industry. I am not going to call him out, but he is in the furniture industry. This person for a long time in 2015, and occasionally in 2016, just posts on there, “I need the job!!!!!!!!!!!” He posts it over and over again. That is not going to get you a job. It’s going to get you disconnected with your connections. No one’s going to help you with that. That is not a professional way to act. You need to use LinkedIn for business a little more professionally than that.
The next thing after the summary is a descriptive headline. That descriptive headline is your title. The reality is that if you are unemployed, then just put your areas of interest just like, “3D Print Designer – CAD Modeler” Whatever it is that you do and are, you can put that there. It doesn’t have to be a title of it. The reality is that even if you were unemployed, you don’t want to put it there. Instead, put there that you are a consultant. You are in your home business, and you are a freelancer. Let’s be really professional about that. That is just the basics that are going on.
Connections vs Followers
There are connections, and there are followers. You can have both. Sometimes, it reads you have 500 connections, which I actually really like. You can’t dive in to how many connections that I have. You really have to pay in LinkedIn to see exactly how much I have. I have a over a thousand by the way. I just don’t follow anyone; I just look at their profile and verify if I need to follow them. That’s something that most people don’t do. They just accept, accept, and accept. But I allow them to ask me to not make it difficult. Some people force you to in message them or be connected to them, but I don’t that. I don’t have it set privately, but I do not have connections because I want to look in their profile first. I have been stalked in LinkedIn, because I have this crazy, stalker guy who likes to hit on me on LinkedIn, and I have to say no. I can tell from their profile that this is someone that is going to harass me a little bit. I have to turn that off. I am selective.
You can have followers if you are posting. This isn’t an update, so think about an update like a quick little Facebook message. But a post, is like writing a blog post in your LinkedIn. It’s like being an author in LinkedIn. It’s called the Pulse, and can just be anyone. You don’t have to be invited to do it. You don’t have to be special. You don’t have to be an author. You can put something in the Pulse, and right above the summary in your profile page, is a little thing that says, “Write a new post.” That is all you do. You go there, and write a post. What I do, because I am allowed to repost a section of my article in LinkedIn, I repost my articles here on LinkedIn. You can do this too, with any of your blog posts, for those of you who are bloggers out there. You do not get Google penalized. At this time that this is airing, you do not get penalized. The Google rules could change at some point.
Let’s go a little deeper with that, because it gets really important for people to know, especially if you have two websites or more than one website somewhere on the internet. The whole point of having a website is to get noticed and to get exposure for you and your business. When you have original content, something that you have written like a blog, Google goes and scans every website that it already knows almost on a daily basis. When there is new content, it scans it, it rates it, and it indexes it. So when someone searches a term that is related, it is going to come up on Google, and you want to come up as high on that search of the first page as much as possible. There is a whole site for that, but I’m not going to get into that now. But, this is an important tip to understand. If you have the same blog posted on two different sites of your own or anybody else has posted there, and both those sites are indexed on Google, then you get put in the Google sandbox which is a sort of penalty box. It will actually take the ranking of both sites down. The original content means that it is only at one place. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a link to it on another page or another website. You definitely want links, and that’s fine. But it is not posted on both sites. There is also another aspect, where you can have a feed on another site that has a little blurb from it. If that’s a feed or an RSS feed, then that’s different because that is understood by Google. You can’t have both places, unless you de-list the page on one of those sites. There is a way to tell Google and where you can tell your web developers to tell them, “Do not index this page.”
The Pulse in LinkedIn is not considered duplicate content by Google standards, so you are allowed to report your blog here. A lot of people do this. A lot of people will repost the headline and say, “Read my blog here.” Don’t do that. Nobody is going to click through it. They are going to be frustrated with you, they are never going to follow you, and they are not going to read your blog post. They don’t want you to post, “Hey, go read this someplace else.” You’ve got to tease them. You’ve got to give them a taste of what it is. I am only allowed to repost three paragraphs from my original article, so I have to do that. What I typically do is that I repost the first three paragraphs, and then I’ll make the bullet point summary of the points and say, “If you want to have more details on these points, go to the original article on Inc. I try to give them as much content as possible but I am still restricted on some ways, so I am careful about it, and I do that. But it is useful. What can happen to you is that, at the top of the post, when people are reading your post, there is a follow button. If they want to passively follow you, but do not want you to connect with them. So it’s a way to follow what you’re saying, follow every time you’re posting a pulse, it will then appear in their feed. It is like liking a page on Facebook if that’s your experience. It moves it so that you don’t have to read the post every day. It’s like your news headlines, but you’ve found one article that you’d like, and now you’re going to follow that person so that every time they post, you’re going to see them again.
This is how I made a lot of my connections, because you start to read what they say. I start to comment on there as this comment thing comes back and forth, and then they go read your Pulse. The next thing you know, you guys are sharing and re-sharing and pulsing each other. It really works well, so that’s how you end up with followers and connections that may not be the same people and a good way to use LinkedIn for business.
That’s the best ways for you guys to interact on each other in LinkedIn in a really positive and interesting way. You don’t get tons of comments on this. I may get a couple every time. Sometimes, I tag someone and they comment back. You can get interaction going out late, and that is not the point. The real point and power of it is that, when you go to your profile, someone can see under it your post. With your most recent post, they can then see that you are active, and that you can write. This is a good way of getting a job or getting someone to pay attention to someone you want them to pay attention to. This is not a promo area for your business. The business page is the promo area for your business. This is an area for you personally, to be smart on behalf of your company – to talk about smart, interesting, useful, and helpful things. You want people to share your post. You don’t want to get people to say, “Oh my gosh, that was a big commercial.” You need to provide people valuable content. Things that they can use, that they are going to find which is either entertaining, educational, or controversial – the same old classic style that people get interested with. I think it still applies here. A commercial in your business just doesn’t make sense there.
Personal Messaging Experiences
In messaging, it’s gotten to a point where because of the way that they designed the home page, they give you these little things that say, “Someone has just got a new job!” When you comment on that, you can like, you can comment, or you can skip. When you comment on that, you are actually not realizing it but you are sending them a private message which is annoying to the person. Unless you want to really comment and say something to them personally, you end up with these “congratulations” from people you don’t know. It’s a weird thing that I don’t love about LinkedIn. It’s great to like or skip it, but when you comment on it, make sure you have something to say to that person personally, because it really is going to their personal messaging.
Annoying and Quick Follow-ups
This is where we get these constant commercials that I find so annoying. I had three people I accepted as connections on LinkedIn. Two of them are people I knew, some of them I know in business, who we actually had dinner with last night. I turn down very few connections on LinkedIn because its business, but we get a lot of connection requests from Asia because we have a lot of business going on especially in China. I definitely don’t know all of these people that have connected to me, but I may want to research if I need a certain kind of resource over there in China that I know that I can go through and search all of my connections. I may find something, but what I don’t like is when there is a request and they have their LinkedIn up and they’re waiting to see when I accept it. Almost 30 seconds later after I accept it, I’ll have a message in my message box through LinkedIn where they are trying to sell me on their company and their service. It’s a different culture over there, but I wish that they’d realize that, “Hey, I’m happy to connect with you. But if I’m interested in you, I’ll let you know.”
I also have a guy who connected to me recently. After I accepted his connection, he wrote me a nice little message that says, “Hello madam! I’m a mechanical design engineer from Mumbai, India. I work for a 3D printing company. I have a very good work experience. All the best and thank you for getting connected!” It’s a little bit of a “I need a job.” It is nicely written. It’s more professional. He has introduced himself to me, which says to me why he wanted to connect to me. However, I think you should do that when you make the connection. Most people just hit the connect button which is an auto thing from LinkedIn. But if you go to the other area where you find a connection and you are going through it, and you have to save a why-do-you-know-this-person. You then type into the field there, and you type a message like this in there, I probably would still connect to you. It’s a little more honest. You just really need to think about this.
People who where there all along.
I have had a guy who reached out to me. He was an awesome manager guy who has great experience, and he’s like, “I just periodically go through my LinkedIn connections. I have been following you for a while, and I just feel like we should talk. I really have to set up an appointment and I would be totally interested in knowing more about you.” Once I checked out his website, it was really well done. It was very professionally done. It was just like he wanted to make a life and a personal connection. It was really great and I thought that after reading his profile that this is not a crazy stalker guy who tried to get me on the phone. This is a guy who has really something to add, and he really is right. We do have something in common. How great it is to make the connection deeper than LinkedIn? That’s what we did, and we ended up in an hour and a half phone call, because there is so much to talk about. It was so interesting. He then connected us to somebody local.
There are people within your network where after a while; you realize that they are just there. The funny part is that he connected us to a person who is local here (Ryan Folland), because he has great cartoons that I totally love on LinkedIn. He posts this on his updates all the time. I said to Ryan as we were setting up a coffee time, “I feel like I know you!” He then said that we have been LinkedIn connections for quite some time, and we seem to comment on each other’s work all the time. So there was a familiarity. I just didn’t know him personally yet. We took that relationship to the next level in terms of networking.
Because of 3D printing, mutual interest and opportunities in incubator groups going on here in our community, its likely that we actually may end up speaking with some of their groups. I think there are going to be connection activities from businesses that come from it. I like that aspect of it. There is a good way to do it, and there is a wrong way to do it.
Old School Business Cards Style
I also have a guy in here who kind of feels like that he is pestering me. It’s like he was saying, “Are you trying to put a company with a licensing? Please let me know. I can help you.” It was constant. I was having trouble getting rid of him because he is active in our industry. It’s really a kind of issue there. The lesson here for others listening, is if that’s the way you are use LinkedIn for business, that’s like the old school way of trying to hand over everybody your business card. You are stabbing them with your business card, until they take it. Just because you have their business card, it doesn’t mean that you are going to act on it. You have to engage with people in different ways and in a meaningful way.
I think that we get a lot of questions from people who are in the education field. They got another email two days ago from some of the education field in 3D printing. They got some ways to connect with other people in that community sense of coming to manage the stuff, sharing what you’re doing, getting some good advice. It’s just general feedback. I would think that LinkedIn could be used in this way to build a community of teachers and 3D printing.
You can trust LinkedIn to build a network like that because there are other LinkedIn groups like that where you can do. There are other professionals in 3D printing education there. I used to be a big fan of the groups, but I dropped my membership in them recently. Part of it is because it’s just one of these things where it’s so time consuming to post in the groups, and you have to post separately. I have this totally bad experience with the way that this worked on this one group where they had it closed off but basically, if you post the same thing in another group, they then treat you like a spammer, and they block you out of the group. Here I was an active participant, but I had a topic that was good for two groups. They treat you like a spammer and a bot, and they just shut me down out of the group. The petition to try to get back in the group that I was participating in for a very long time was such as hassle that I got frustrated and terminated the group.
That was really unfortunate because that was a closed group, and no one can see your post. So why won’t you post it on two different groups in LinkedIn. It got to be a pain, and so I said that it is ridiculous. It’s kind of annoying me with Facebook as well, that same group aspect where you have to go to the same groups who keep posting there. You can’t just post and tag them. You just can’t pick them on the drop list and say, “Only post in this group.” You can only do it in one place. You have to keep coming in and logging in everywhere. I find it ridiculous, so that’s why I dumped the groups. I found that I was getting the same groups everywhere. Everyone was just posting the same post everywhere, even in violation of that rule. It was just driving me crazy because I was just reading the same thing multiple times. I quit all the groups, and I still go to some. Women in 3D printing was one of my favorite groups, and that is the one that I pretty much participate in.
I just keep on finding ways to help these people who want a more intentional and specific community for education in 3D printing. It’s happening in some small ways here and there, but there needs to be more ways to do it. So I just keep looking for that. I think that it’s really not the place for education. I’m also not an educator, so I’m not maybe that different for someone who is in that world.
Speaking of education, I have been checking out the hashtag Maker Milestones throughout the social media. You can tag us anything @HazzDesign on social media. You can find us on LinkedIn at Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard. I’m not seeing a lot of stuff. Most of the stuff I’m seeing is actually coming out of education. I am seeing a lot of universities and school programs posting their milestones which are great, but there is not a lot there to judge yet. You guys should step it up! You got to have a project that you have done that you’re really proud of that was a real achievement in your journey in 3D printing, and that’s the type of thing that they are looking for. You get a chance to win a free 3D printer, and more importantly, you get to be a guest in WTFFF?! to talk about your milestone. We are so excited to talk about you. We’re searching for a story, and not just a great print. We need to know why this is your milestone. Instagram is really not a great place to tell a story, but if you are doing that, then put it on Facebook, put it on Twitter, and tell the story someplace else. Just make sure that you get that story across, because we want to hear the “Why you want to make your milestones?”
Don’t forget, to make your Milestones. Unfortunately, LinkedIn is not the place where you should be posting your Maker Milestones. Just post it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. There is a big community of 3D printing people on Twitter. We are conversing with them every day. Put it out there and hashtag #HazzDesign if you want to make sure we see it, because we’d love to see that.
- Tracy’s LinkedIn Page
- Tom’s LinkedIn Page
- HazzDesign Company LinkedIn Page
- Maker Milestones Contest
- Is there an Online Community of 3D Print Teachers?
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