LinkedIn is the fourth largest social network in the United States after Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Compared to most social networks, LinkedIn has a very business oriented feel and the profiles are simplistic and styled more like a resume than a typical profile page.
The community centers around professionals and the idea that relationships matter in business. The goal in building a profile is to keep a living resume and list of connections. It is centered around the connections from professional to professional as well as other entities like businesses and interest groups. Professionals that know each other can recommend each other and build a powerful list of people they trust in business. The idea is that a well established and well recommended professional profile on LinkedIn will result in networking opportunities and job offers.
On the personality front, LinkedIn is very no-nonsense. Professionalism and simplicity are key elements and while personal content is in no way discouraged, it tends to lack it due to the fact that most go elsewhere for that type of interaction. Because of that, one major way to get attention on LinkedIn is to do the unexpected: do personal. We have written about the debate between personal and professional and if you know us at all, you know we like to connect on a personal level.
For example, my personal LinkedIn network is pretty small, I don’t have a ton of connections and it isn’t a place I spend a lot of time. However, when I post there for Salty Waffle, I have the best luck with people reading articles and commenting back to me when they are personal in nature. Especially if the article involves them at all, which by the way, is a fantastic way to get attention for whatever piece of information you’re trying to put out. Everyone likes reading about themselves and they will love sharing it with their friends to boot.
A few other tips for networking the LinkedIn way: Join groups, post fresh statuses fairly often, recommend professionals you know, establish a page for your business and connect it with everyone who supports you or is a part of it, and insert links to your site or blog where appropriate in conversations.
One last great thing about LinkedIn that sets it apart is the age distribution. Compared with other social networks, the average age of a LinkedIn professional is older than that of a Facebook or Twitter user. This can help you target an older demographic if you need, and connect to users that may not otherwise join your extended community online given other choices. LinkedIn has quickly become the go-to place for professionals and businesses looking to establish a clean, professional place on the web that has the social aspect as well.
Remember, it may be THE Social Network, but it isn’t the only one.