As one of the most under appreciated social networks around, LinkedIn continues to quietly grow and become more useful to businesses of all sizes. Now is as good a time as any for you to learn the ins and outs of the most popular “business focused” social network so that you too can generate leads and find new clients on LinkedIn.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the most well-known social network for those looking to find jobs, hire new employees and make real business connections. There is no “poking” or “tagging” on this network. Rather, just simple and straightforward business tools to help develop professional connections online.
Real estate professionals across the country and around the globe continue to utilize the social networking tools provided by LinkedIn. Over 90 million users have now registered with LinkedIn to attractively present their credentials, converse with their business community, and meet new clients and business partners.
When used correctly and consistently, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for generating business and developing useful business relationships. The purpose of this post is to help you accomplish these things as well.
The Profile: An Online Business Card
The way LinkedIn works is that each user creates their own profile. The “snapshot” view of a user’s profile summarizes their basic information, which includes:
- Current Location
- Job Title
- Employment History
- Education History
- Summary of Recommendations
- Photos for Identification
One can also display links to personal or business websites, and list out interests, associations, and any honors and awards obtained. This attractively formatted page can serve as a nice online business card for Realtors, Brokers, and other real estate professionals.
The web address of your profile page is fixed in a permanent location and can be customized. A profile’s URL (or web address), which can be optimized, is formatted like this:
Profile visitors may print a PDF of your information, or download a vCard into their address book. Having a free, professional, and easy to view online resume like this carries immense value in and of itself, but the true power of LinkedIn lies in its Connections feature.
LinkedIn Profile Tips
- Summarize Yourself. A well-written summary paragraph for your profile can really benefit you. This summary is displayed high on the user snapshot page, and serves as an elevator pitch to someone who is not familiar with your skill set and work experience.
- Photos Say A Lot. Pick a great photo to represent you. Pictures can make a great or terrible first impression, so choose one where you’re looking your best.
- 100% Completion. Fill out all of the sections of your profile. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for appropriate real estate business partners and potential home buyers/sellers to find you.
- Optimize It. There’s nothing preventing you from using SEO-friendly keywords as the unique URL for your profile. Just keep in mind that a lot of professionals are now familiar with SEO, so if it looks like you’re trying to unnaturally “stuff” your page URL with keywords, it may look a bit amateurish. If you don’t know how to do this tastefully, it might be best to just stick to a variation of your name, a description of your line of work, or the name of your company in the user-defined part of your profile’s URL.
Connections Represent Business Relationships
Through Connections, LinkedIn allows you to demonstrate your industry relationships to the world. When making a connection with another user on the site, it’s established how both users know each other. Once the connection is made, both users can then exchange recommendations, send inMail (through LinkedIn’s internal email program), and easily make referrals from their respective trusted networks.
Since real estate professionals and companies can post status updates on LinkedIn, as the number of quality connections per user grows, so does the potential for making new business connections. Real estate professionals who maximize this platform’s potential frequently post and view status updates of other users. Status updates allow a user to instantly update their entire network of connections on what is currently happening in their business community.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on these updates, as the next great opportunity may be posted to a user’s entire network. Someone in your network may even be as direct with their intentions as stating something like: “I’m ready to buy a new home!”
LinkedIn Connections Tips
- Find Your Company. If you work for a real estate company that already has employees on LinkedIn, don’t forget to look up the company name so that you can easily connect with all of your co-workers. The same goes for those who went to school with you; search for the educational institution so you can quickly connect with them.
- Find Your Clients. LinkedIn supports the upload of many different contact file formats. You may find after uploading your contact file that many of your clients and associates are already on LinkedIn.
- Invite Friends. It’s very easy to import everyone you know that has a LinkedIn profile. Simply go to the webmail import tool, enter in your email login information, and seconds later you can select those you wish to extend invitations to join your own trusted real estate network.
Answering Questions To Attract New Business
Another way that users can interact on the site is through LinkedIn Answers. This Q&A format lets professionals post and answer questions related to their industry, and really gives one the opportunity to demonstrate their prowess in their field. Having a lot of answers that are voted “Best Answers” for frequently asked questions in the real estate industry can generate a lot of business inquiries. Often you’ll see other users answering a question and praising what ends up being chosen as the best answer. This is in essence free advertising for the author of that best answer!
LinkedIn Answers Tips
- Ask Questions. It never hurts to ask a question when you are stumped. It’s not a sign of perceived weakness when you post a question. Quite often you’ll get the best answer possible, and be able to connect with the person who provided that answer. You never know when you might need that person’s help with a deal, or vice-versa.
- Express your brand. LinkedIn Answers gives you a great format to show the whole world your personality and expertise. So don’t be afraid to be yourself. Answering a question from a voice that isn’t your own robs you of the unique power of your real estate business brand.
- Be Helpful. You won’t get any accolades on Answers by withholding valuable information. Not to say that you should expose valuable trade secrets this way, but don’t try and bait users into working with you by providing partial answers. It’s not in the spirit of this mutually-beneficial support community.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn provides an ad platform for users and advertisers to take advantage of the network’s reach and social graph to promote their business and services via image and text based ads. Relevant ads are served to LinkedIn users based on their profile information provided making LinkedIn Ads very targeted.
LinkedIn Advertising Tips
- Start Small. Setup a simple, but targeted ad campaign by following the easy steps provided by LinkedIn. If you don’t have marketing dollars to use for too much testing, then be sure to start your campaign with very specific, narrowed down demographic selections.
- Test, Test, Test. Make sure to use at least 3-4 ad text variations per campaign. The only way to know which ad will work the best is to test them against each other.
- Target Your Campaign. Know your target audience and target your ads around them. If you try to run a campaign for a large network then you will quickly find yourself burning through marketing dollars.
- Refine, Refine, Refine. Check your campaign regularly to spot trends and signs that could optimize your campaign. For example, if you see that particular ad is getting a low click through rate compared to another ad then it may be a good idea to optimize the wording in that ad or pause it entirely so the better performing ad gets more impressions.
There’s often professional information a user would like to have on their profile for connections to see, but not make it available publicly. So it’s important to go over privacy concerns when discussing this social networking platform. Fortunately, LinkedIn gives one a great deal of control over their privacy through settings which can limit the amount of information that can be viewed by anyone.
A full profile can be set to only be available to those who are in the user’s network. And since the search engines only includes LinkedIn pages in their search results that are public, rest assured that your trusted information will not show up in search results without your permission.
LinkedIn Privacy Tips
- Speak Up. If someone inappropriate contacts you, or you feel they might be trying to scam you, don’t hesitate to report them using the tools provided by LinkedIn. It helps protect yourself and others from further inconvenience or potential harm.
- Setup Filters. If you are getting overwhelmed by the number of emails LinkedIn sends you, you can easily change the settings so that you aren’t notified every time someone you invite into your trusted networks accepts their invitation.
- Protect Your Info. The site is as secure as any out there, but manage your login information as carefully on LinkedIn as you would with any other important site. We recommend creating a complex, unique password for use with this site to help protect the online reputation of your real estate business.
LinkedIn Can Generate Business, If You Use it Right
Although LinkedIn cannot boast the hundreds of millions of users that Twitter or Facebook have currently, it is still one of the best social networks to leverage for lead generation, if you use it correctly. Like any other social network, you will get as much out as you put in.
We hope this article has given you all the information you need to succeed in beginning to use LinkedIn. Remember that it’s never too late to put innovative technologies to good use; and rest assured that your competitors are if you aren’t so get going.
If there’s anything else you’d like for us to cover in regards to LinkedIn or any other social networking site, please let us know by commenting below or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.