LinkedIn is perhaps the most elusive of online tools for many new social networkers. Many people first come to it and cannot understand how it can possibly help them with business and network building. But that is simply because, on the surface, LinkedIn appears to be starkly formal with little opportunity for interaction compared to the colourful interface Facebook provides, or the face-paced exchanges found in Twitter.
But while LinkedIn is definitely more of a professional network than it is a social network, when you explore all it has to offer you will find it to be not only a place where you can thrive and establish your renown as a professional, but also where you can find a virtually endless supply of information and referrals, as well as have access to thousands of people in your target audience.
While there are so many aspects to explore in LinkedIn, today I just want to share one very quick tip with you that can help you make LinkedIn work for you as you build your online platform, either for your book promotion (as I work primarily with authors) or other business.
What’s the tip?
To establish yourself as an expert.
How do you do that? You do this by answering questions posted by others in the LinkedIn Q&A. You can access the Q&A by clicking “more” in your LinkedIn profile, and then selecting “Question”. When you are prompted, select “answer questions.”
When people post questions on LinkedIn, they have to put them in at least one category and/or subcategory. I recommend searching for a topic that is closely related to your specific area of expertise. I frequently answer questions on writing/editing, technology, internet marketing, etc. Have a look around for subjects that match your expertise most.
When you find a question you think is “juicy”, and which you feel confident about providing information, read over the replies received so far and then give an answer that gives added value to the person who asked the question.
BE GENEROUS in your reply. Share from your expertise and experience. Give links to outside sources you believe would help the person. The key to this process is to focus on what you can GIVE the other person. There is nothing more irritating to me when I go on LinkedIn and read replies to questions that are obvious spam or simply attempts to gain attention. Invariably it backfires on the person. But if you are generous with your wisdom and your professional knowledge, people really appreciate it.
After a question has been online for some time (usually 7 days), it closes unless the person who asked the question keeps it open. After it closes, LinkedIn sends a message to the person who asked the question requesting that they select the best answer to their question. If your response is selected as the “best”, you then become ranked as an “expert” in that particular subject. Your expert status becomes a permanent part of your LinkedIn profile. Every time your answers are selected as the best, you gain another accolade as an expert.
Why would you care about becoming a LinkedIn Expert?
Establishing yourself as an expert on LinkedIn not only helps others see that you are knowledgeable on specific subject areas, but it also shows people that you are a generous and helpful person. People can also click your expert status and read exactly what kind of knowledge and information you are sharing, which further establishes your credibility. The long-term benefit of this is that people will come to trust you both as a professional and as a person. If you think that will not have a positive impact upon your business (and even your book sales) think again.
Because LinkedIn is a professional network, as opposed to a social network, it does indeed have limitations on how you can market yourself compared to Twitter or Facebook, for instance. But in helping you establish your professional credibility, LinkedIn becomes a great balance to the other components of your online platform.
There’s a lot more to LinkedIn, what to speak of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other essential components in your online promotion toolkit. If you wish to deepen your understanding, I cover these in great detail in my course Spirit Authors Module 2: “Pre-Publication Marketing Musts” (or “80 Days to Build Your Online Promotional Platform”).