LinkedIn: Use the power of Answers


At the end of your navigation links in your LinkedIn profile is a tab called ‘More’. At the top of the drop-down menu that appears when you mouse over it, is the option ‘Answers’. I often wonder why it is tucked away like this when it is, in my mind, an integral part of effective use of LinkedIn.

The Questions and Answers section of LinkedIn is an almost forgotten area that could make or break your expertise status. There is a myriad of different subject matter, easily one for every kind of profession, that provides two purposes: to ask a question (for inquiry, research, information or whatever) and to answer those questions (therefore spreading your expertise in your chosen subject).

The quality and substance of the questions vary (as so does the answers), but social media users today have developed skills in skimming through the unnecessary stuff to focus on the worth-while. This also reflects the methods of asking and answering questions, with certain skills developed to make your response stand out above the rest; a trait that is necessary with today’s noisy internet usage.

‘Answers Home’ shows the most recently submitted questions in no particular order or subject matter. There are some LinkedIn users who make a habit of answering any question that appeals to them, whereas others will prefer to concentrate on their areas of expertise.

‘Advanced Answers Search’ focuses your attention on the subjects you would most like to concentrate on. The category mechanisms provides access to your preference, but sometimes going down a different route will lead you to unexpected subjects that might be of interest. Once you have chosen your subject matter, LinkedIn remembers so you don’t have to do it all over again.

For easy access to relevant questions you might want to answer, you can set up Google Alerts for the questions within your chosen criteria, and these appear as a cookie on your Google homepage or within your RSS feed reader page. Now you can keep track of all questions as they are asked, and be one of the first to answer, or watch them while the discussions develop.

Go to ‘Answer Questions’ and you’ll see that questions are either open (available for answering) or closed (there is usually a time limit on questions which you can extend if necessary). The ‘Expert’ tab shows the most promiscuous answerers, but there is no reason why you can’t become one yourself! If your answer is approved by the questioner it will either be marked as ‘Good’ or, if you’re lucky, ‘Best Answer’. Whatever alocade you receive  will be listed on your profile page in the right sidebar, and ‘Best Answer’ for each subject will be shown in your signature when you answer a question.

And if you have a question to ask, the ‘Ask a Question’ tab provides easy to use fields and menus to publish your question. It is great fun waiting for the answers, which will be emailed to you when they are submitted. Sometimes they are not what you expected, but all are enjoyable to read. When your question has closed, then is the time to select those that are ‘Good’ and finally your ‘Best Answer’, a respected and polite way of saying thank-you, though some questioners have emailed me personally to request more information as well as expressing their gratitude.


Do some Christmas giving via LinkedIn


‘Tis the season to give and take, and this should not be confined to presents under the Christmas tree! Business thrives on giving and taking, especially within social media, and really this sort of altruism shouldn’t be limited to the last days of December!

The title mentions LinkedIn, so how do you give and take in this form of social media?

A major part of the LinkedIn profile is the ‘Recommendations’ area under ‘Experience’. This is where past and present clients who have been pleased or impressed with your business activities can leave you a testimonial or recommendation, and this listing will show prospective clients or employees how satisfied the givers are with what you have done for them, and if you’re lucky they may even state the project successes amongst the other nice things.

And if you’re vain, you do have the opportunity to ‘edit’ the testimonial, but then that would defeat the object! I think you should accept praise or criticism in whatever form it is presented to you, even if it doesn’t quite meet your expectations or match your desired patterns or forecasts. People see you in their own way, and this can be quite enlightening – after all, as every marketer knows, feedback in any form is good and should be valued and acted upon.

It’s always pleasant to receive presents (albeit recommendations), so why not give one back in return? Summaries of the recommendations you give to others are listed in your sidebar of your profile, a nice touch to show off your altruism that always looks good to whoever reads up about you.

So why not send someone a testimonial or recommendation today (big hint from us at Appletree!) so we can send one back to you too!

Is your marketing joined up?


Last week I ran a couple of workshops at a business event and we talked about all sorts of different marketing activities. We talked about the fact that whatever marketing you do, it should all be joined up, planned and on going.

By the time I got to my desk the following day, numerous people who attended the event had tweeted about it, to say thank you for the advice we gave. We sent a special issue of our email newsletter to people who came to the event, giving them a link to free Marketing Plan template on our website. (Click here if you’d like the Marketing Plan template.) Then we tweeted about the template, so anyone could download it. As a result, the number of people who visited our website last week shot up, as did the number of subscribers to our newsletter.

Since the event, we’ve blogged about it, and the posts have been automatically tweeted. Our latest tweet goes onto our website and our LinkedIn profile.

A couple of weeks ago we had a call from a potential client, who had been referred to us by someone I met in 2006 at a workshop I ran. She subscribed to my newsletter, Scribbles, and has been reading it for the last 4 years. I saw her again at another presentation in January  this year.

Before last week’s event, we listed it on our website to attract more delegates. Our potential client saw the listing on the site and asked to come along, to listen to the presentation and talk to us afterwards.

So that’s a website, a blog, some tweets, a newsletter and some presentations! Lots of marketing, all giving the same message and all working towards the same end.

Is your marketing joined up?

LinkedIn: expanding its marketing use


Everybody in the business world knows that LinkedIn is the professional social networking site, and that anybody worth their salt should be a member. But it’s not just somewhere to put up your profile (which, by the way, is more like a CV than a mere description) so that people can find and connect with you (though that is always a very good thing to encourage), you can use LinkedIn for many marketing purposes as well.

LinkedIn is now connected to other social networking sites, in particular Twitter, where you can feed your updated status comments directly into your Twitter-stream, and vice-versa, either automatically or using the hashtags #in or #li.

You can feed your blog’s RSS URL into your LinkedIn profile which automatically updates with a headline link and a taster of your post’s beginning. A great way to promote your blog more than just including the link to it in your profile.

Oh, and in the links capacity in your profile, don’t just use the standard ‘My website’ description, use the ‘other’ facility to be more descriptive or supply the website’s or blog’s proper name.

Join up to as many groups as you can. These are a fantastic way to network and spread your expertise. Participate in the discussions, feed relevant resource material into the news sections, and share your knowledge. Create your own group for your company or organisation, an excellent opportunity for your own promotions or keeping in touch with interested parties.

Regularly participate in the Question and Answers section of LinkedIn; a thriving area that you can’t afford to overlook. It’s perfectly positioned for spreading your expertise, doing marketing research, finding out what’s happening in your particular niche, finding answers to your most pressing questions. This is a fantastic resource of valuable information, which can be sent to your Google homepage through RSS feeds so you can immediately view the most recent questions to get your contribution in fast. And if you’re fortunate to be chosen as the best answer, this is indicated on your profile and signature throughout LinkedIn.

Successfully use local networks first


Everybody who has a business strives to be bigger, better and more successful. Of course you do, or why would you be in business in the first place!

But I think it’s wise to start small and become really successful before you branch further afield. I read somewhere that entrepreneurs always see the bigger picture, and many are impatient to wait before plunging in at the deep end.

If you are a sure-fire entrepreneur, go ahead. But if you are of more mortal stock, stand back, gather your resources, increase your expertise to dizzying heights and gain the necessary reputation within your chosen niche before you jump off that cliff or venture into the unknown.

And if you are successful in accomplishing all you can within your locality, watch how your reputation spreads through natural marketing methods: word of mouth, referrals, retweeting, subscriptions to your RSS feeds, comments on your social media profiles and blogs, requests to speak at events, being talked about when you’re not in the room, bombarded with questions because you’re the first person they thought of, LinkedIn profile groaning with recommendations, meetings diary booked up months in advance – I could go on…

Where are you within this picture? Are you already there, or do you need some help? What are your strategies for achieving this phenomenon? What are you successes so far? What more do you need to know…?