LinkedIn is the ‘goto’ social network for business networking. That’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is how to use LinkedIn effectively for marketing both at a personal and at a business level. One source of this confusion is because LinkedIn caters to two very different goals: 1) to promote yourself on the job search, and 2) to promote (educate / nurture / extend) yourself at a professional level AFTER you have a job. Not to mention to promote your company or brand via company pages on LinkedIn. A lot of goal #1 (job search) confuses the goals #2 and #3.
Here are my top ten favorite LinkedIn learning resources and LinkedIn tools for LinkedIn marketing, meaning – to market yourself, on the job search; to market yourself, after you get a job (and to grow professionally), and to market your company or brand. A word to the wise, before you dive into a tool and before you revise your LinkedIn strategy, think clearly about what you are using LinkedIn for –
- Personal Resume – beefing up and beautifying your LinkedIn profile as a “public resume,” so that you look professional, expert, cool, amazing to potential employers and/or potential consulting clients. I think of my LinkedIn profile as my “public profile” on the Internet, and on LinkedIn. When a potential client checks me out I want to say: YES I’m an expert, and YES I can help you!
- Schmoozing – Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am,” but I say to you (on LinkedIn): “I schmooze, therefore I am,” meaning LinkedIn is the #1 business platform for reaching out, meeting, greeting, charming, soliciting and making business contacts in a positive way whether it is via LinkedIn posts, via LinkedIn groups, getting recommendations and/or endorsements, or by reaching out and contacting people with a “there there,” an invitation to download a free eBook, come to a wine and cheese business event, or some other type of business “carrot” to get your prospects excited about your business. Learn to use LinkedIn to research prospects, and to charm them through online interactions.
- Business Pages – LinkedIn is desperately and effectively trying to become the “Facebook for boring companies,” meaning a placed for B2B companies to engage with their customers generally about professional or technical (quasi-educational) topics in ways that just don’t work inside the Facebook ecosystem of friends, family, and fun. This use is still in its infancy, but it’s growing and as LinkedIn beefs up the news feed with new features like LinkedIn Pulse, and its acquisition of Lynda.com, you can expect more and more B2B marketing opportunities on LinkedIn.
- Job Search – this is the oldie but goodie on LinkedIn and its primary use to this day. If you are searching for a job, learning how to use LinkedIn and taking advantage of free LinkedIn marketing tools is the “new way” to network your way to your dream job.
So with those very different purposes for using LinkedIn, here’s my updated list of top ten free “how to” resources and tools for LinkedIn marketing –
- LinkedIn Help Center – Learn about all the different features on LinkedIn. From a brief overview to detailed tips, you’ll find them here. Learn about profiles. Find out how to get a new job. Use LinkedIn on your mobile phone. Learn how to build your network. Get answers to your questions with Answers.
- LinkedIn Company Pages FAQ – Interested in setting up a business page on LinkedIn? Here’s the official FAQ on LinkedIn company pages.
- LinkedIn Blog – The official LinkedIn Blog…lots of detailed information on what’s happening when, where, and how on LinkedIn by LinkedIn staff.
- Rapportive – Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that works with LinkedIn (and other social media sites). So when you’re exchanging email with someone, you can see their LinkedIn profile details. It’s sort of a bye-bye privacy app that helps you know how ‘important’ someone is with whom you are interacting.
- LinkedIn Pulse – Need ideas for your next blog post? Look no further than LinkedIn Pulse where top business influencers post their thoughts daily. Handy drop-down selector at right allows you to see Top Posts from today, this week, and all time. Click the Discover Tab to customize your Pulse feed with influencers relevant to your interests.
- LinkedIn Plugins – Want to cross-promote your LinkedIn page from your website? Here’s how. Use this page to find the nifty, official LinkedIn plugins. Share on LinkedIn, or follow us on LinkedIn. If you are in HR, you can even have an ‘apply’ via LinkedIn button. Cool!
- Twitter on LinkedIn – What goes better than chocolate and peanut butter? LinkedIn and Twitter, of course. Start here to learn how to integrate Twitter on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn Learning Webinars – LinkedIn hosts live learning webinars on a variety of timely LinkedIn topics. Alternatively, users can view pre-recorded sessions. Topics are designed for a variety of audiences including, job seekers, corporate communications professionals, and journalists.
- Five Hundred Plus – Five Hundred Plus is an application that uses LinkedIn to help you make the most of your most valuable connections. You may have heard of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications used by companies to manage clients and leads. Five Hundred Plus is inspired by those tools but focuses on your own personal network, not your company’s.
- LinkedIn Company Page Analytics – This free report from social media analytics company Simply Measured answers questions about your LinkedIn Company Page performance and engagement, analyzes attributes of key influencers interacting with your content, and measures the effectiveness of content by post date.
More Free Social Media Marketing Tools
There are more cool tools for LinkedIn marketing, of course, but these are my top ten favorites. You’ll note that compared to other social media – e.g., Twitter or Facebook – LinkedIn has fewer “tools” and more “learning resources.” That’s really because the focus of LinkedIn is so much about one-to-one networking: it’s ironically one of the most “personal” social media platforms. When we publish our updated 2015-2016 Social Media Toolbook, we’ll publish the complete list to free LinkedIn tools and resources as well as free tools for all social media marketing. To get your free copy (and an alert when it’s published), please sign up for our free email newsletter, here.