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Top Five LinkedIn New Year Resolutions for 2012

07 March 2012

Goodbye 2011, welcome, 2012. Why not make 2012 the year you learn how to make LinkedIn really work for you and your business?

For professionals who have engaged with LinkedIn to grow their professional network and their business, there is often a dual feeling of both enthusiasm and uncertainty. This lack of knowledge of how LinkedIn can impact your brand reputation, findability on Google and business development, has left many aspects of this incredible business tool untapped.

Here are 5 ways you can resolve to improve your LinkedIn presence and activity for productive networking, lead generation and branding in 2012

1. Review and update LinkedIn group membership and activity settings 

Are you getting too many emails? I would be a rich woman if I had a dollar for everyone who tells me that. We all suffer these days from email stress. Review all groups you belong to on LinkedIn ( a maximum of 50). I guarantee you there are at least 10-20 groups that you have not contributed to or used effectively for network growth/inbound marketing or thought leadership.

Cull them, cut out those that have lots of spam and that you do not get value from. Search \"LinkedIn group statistics\" and look for groups that have grown in 2011, that contain your target market/prospects either geographically or industry wise. Also look for groups with good spam moderation. As LinkedIn becomes more crowded only the groups with good spam moderation will continue to thrive and grow.

To change your group activity settings, hover your mouse over your name (top right hand side of LinkedIn page) and click on settings. Here you can control your privacy settings, your visibility and how many emails you receive from LinkedIn. I suggest you opt for a weekly group update from most groups and perhaps choose two or three to get daily updates from.This puts you in control of the number of emails received.

2. Get blogging and Integrate your blog content into your LinkedIn profile

Research from Hubspot (http://hubspot.com) consistently illustrates that Inbound Marketing (creating valuable content for customers and prospects) is more effective and costs less than traditional outbound marketing (advertising etc.)

Try and rethink your marketing budget for 2012: do some tests on leads acquired from blogging (content creation) versus leads acquired by advertising. Then measure the ROI. LinkedIn is a great platform for sharing your blog content both via your professional updates and your company updates.

You can integrate wordpress.com directly into your LinkedIn professional and company profiles. Because of LinkedIn's massive SEO power, and its twitter integration via Signal, your blog articles are more likely to be found here than just via your own company brand (unless you happen to be Coke).

Recently, the US online journal, Search Engine Journal published an article and infographic on \"Why content creation is becoming a more important for SEO.\" Google has implemented a weighting factor known as the \"panda factor\". Google's Amit Singhal says; \"Our site quality ranking factors are aimed at helping people find high quality sites by reducing the ranking of low- quality content\".

So content that is unique, valuable and recent, plus that which is published on high \"panda value\" will rank well. Panda weights sites like LinkedIn as high quality platforms.

3. Take advantage of your LinkedIn Company Profile

If you're aren't already using the Company Profile option you're limiting your SEO. And don’t confuse professional and Company profiles. The professional profile is for a \"person\", the company profile for an \"entity or business\". So ensure you swap your company logo/graphic for a professional photo shot and use your company logo on Your \"Company Page\".\"

The Company Profile Pages, allow business owners or designated administrators (employees), to create content for particular products or services and tailor product/services to segmented audiences. The layout allows companies to create a range of content offerings including video, white paper URL's, as well as targetted landing pages for lead capture. LinkedIn members visiting Company Pages can also post recommendations and reviews of products or services.

Promote your LinkedIn Company Page to engage followers via all your normal customer communication channels; your website; your email signature, your linkedIn professional profile, your PDF's, business cards and Iphone apps. Also, when people search your professional profile and hover over your business name, ie; xyzdigital this link goes directly to your LinkedIn company profile. As this link appears higher up on the page than your actual website, chances are more LinkedIn users will click on your LinkedIn company page. Therefore ensure your company page shows job vacancies, key corporate messages, video, landing page links and of course \"all\" of your company employees. All these lovely backlinks add massive SEO traction.

4. Start using LinkedIn Company Updates, they are SEO gems

Your LinkedIn company profile updates are able to be seen by your entire LinkedIn network- they are also searchable via Google so go get your company updates working for brand awareness and engagement.

For companies interested in how LinkedIn can assist with their search engine optimisation this is a huge plus. Given that Social is SEO and SEO is social, for B-to-B firms wanting to drive organic SEO, Company updates, up the \"ante\". Now, company updates can be linked with your company Twitter account, so updates appear to followers, your network and on Twitter.

5. Use the Export Contacts function to preserve your LinkedIn contacts

If you are a recruiter, involved in HR, management consulting or any other profession that relies on your LinkedIn network, it’s a good idea to backup your LinkedIn contacts regularly to a CSV file/excel or your own internal CRM system. If you have a large number of contacts I suggest giving each contact an ID number so similar names do not cause confusion.

This means if LinkedIn goes down for maintenance or goodness forbid has technical issues, you still have a backup of your contacts/network. As relationships can be central to many businesses and add to a brands value on the balance sheet this is critical for most businesses.

Last year, in UK a legal case involving a recruitment business and a former employee became a landmark LinkedIn test case. The employee was ordered to give back the LinkedIn contacts he had acquired whilst being employed by his former employer. I recommend to my recruitment clients that they do an audit of LinkedIn contacts at the time of joining and one at their exit interview. I prdict that there will be increasing sophistication around the management of this data for firms and businesses based on services and relationships in 2012.

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