The first four letters of LinkedIn are “L-I-N-K,” and for sure, it’s a great way to network with colleagues near and far. But to really position yourself as a LinkedIn leader, you need to follow certain protocols to make yourself stand out without developing a reputation of being an annoying spammer. Here are a few guidelines to help you get the most from your LinkedIn account:
• Delve into stealth mode. Sometimes you want to poke around and find out about other companies or contacts without letting them know you’ve been looking. To keep from appearing under the “who’s viewed your profile” listing, use your privacy controls to remain anonymous.
• Use the “add media” button. Upload video or audio files, PowerPoint presentations, slideshares or other media files to your profile under education, summary or job experience sections to help users gain a more personalized and deeper understanding of you and your personal brand.
• Join – and then start – a group. Groups provide more intimate connections than your contact list, but choose them with care: Too many group affiliations may look like you’re more interested in appearances than in providing real substance.
• Comment thoughtfully to build interest and respect. This is especially critical if you’re just getting into the social scene at LinkedIn. Once you’re involved in a group – or a few groups – be sure to use the opportunity to make comments about topics that can showcase your expertise as well as your willingness to learn from others.
• Develop a networking strategy. Ideally, you want to use LinkedIn to identify a handful of contacts who can help you achieve one of your professional goals. But, rather than start by sending them questions about how they can help you, make yourself useful to them by sending them occasional links to an article or forum discussion you thought might interest them. Building a reputation of being interested in their needs first can go a long way toward gaining truly valuable help in the near future.