Barry MacQuarrie

Seven Essential LinkedIn Activities

Donít leave your computer without them!

September 20, 2010
by Barry MacQuarrie, CPA

You just started your company and need to generate revenue. You realize that membership in the local Chamber of Commerce may help you be successful. Having completed their online membership form you become a member and wait for your phone to ring. You’re convinced that it will, because you’re now a member of the Chamber!

During the first year, you attend one Chamber of Commerce networking event, but you leave early so you can go back to your office and wait for the phone to ring. It never does.

A year later, you receive your membership renewal. In disgust, you throw it away and mutter, “Why would I want to continue to pay my dues? I’ve been a member for a year and have not generated a single dollar of revenue. This organization just doesn’t work!”

Who’s to blame? You or the Chamber?

I have heard a lot of people tell me similar stories about their use of LinkedIn. They registered, built a very basic profile and got nothing out of it. Their “social networking phone” never rings and they feel like it is a waste of time. Like the Chamber of Commerce, LinkedIn is often blamed for something it didn’t do.

The missing element is simple, it’s called participation. There are people who generate lots of revenue from their involvement in their Chamber of Commerce. Funny thing, they happen to be the same people who are most actively involved!

You can generate a lot of benefits from LinkedIn. It just takes a little work. This article reveals the seven essential things you need to do to be successful in your LinkedIn activities:

  1. Sign up Do you have an account on LinkedIn? If not, navigate to http://www.linkedin.com and click on the Join Today button. All you need to enter is your name, e-mail address and a password. It is simple! You’re now a member of the LinkedIn community.
  2. Maintain a Complete Profile In August, I wrote an article that provided seven essential elements of a LinkedIn profile. This article will give you the basics for building your LinkedIn profile. At first, I recommend spending a few minutes each day building your profile on LinkedIn. Once you have a complete profile, you need to update it only as circumstances change.
  3. Update Your Status You can use the Share an Update field on LinkedIn for just about anything. It can be used to announce the fact that you are looking for a job, showcase your expertise, direct people to your favorite charity, promote a blog post or announce your latest product. Status updates in LinkedIn are similar to tweets on Twitter and status updates on Facebook. I have found that active LinkedIn users update their LinkedIn status updates once or twice a week.
  4. Connect Connecting with people on LinkedIn is very easy. You can use the Add Connection button to add one connection at a time. You can search for people using their name, the company they work for or the school they attended. LinkedIn also has tools that allow you to upload your e-mail address book from Outlook or your online e-mail program.
  5. Join a GroupGroups are a very popular feature of LinkedIn. They allow you to connect to people with whom you share interests. For example, there are over 2,500 groups related to accounting. LinkedIn provides a search tool to help you find groups. Last spring, I created a group called SocialCPAs. It is a place where CPAs gather to discuss ideas and share information about social networking.
  6. Share a LinkDid you see something interesting on a blog or website? If so, LinkedIn makes it easy to share this with your connections or members of a group. You may be able to share it from a blog using their “share” button or you can attach a link to your profile from within LinkedIn.
  7. Follow a CompanyEver wonder what your competition is doing? Would you like to learn about changes at a client or prospect? In April, LinkedIn added the ability for a user to follow a company. Simply open the company’s LinkedIn page and click the Follow Company button. LinkedIn can be configured to send you a notification of employee activity, new job opportunities and company profile updates.

Just like your local Chamber of Commerce, you need to be actively involved with LinkedIn and other social networks to see the best results. You just can’t sit around waiting for your virtual phone to ring. It probably won’t!

Becoming an active member of the LinkedIn community is pretty easy. Pick one of the items listed above and try it right now. You’ll find it’s easy to get involved and the results might even surprise you! Active involvement in LinkedIn will allow you to connect with clients, prospects, employees and referral sources. And these new connections may lead to new sources of revenue for your firm.

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Barry MacQuarrie, CPA, is the director of technology at KAF Financial Group. MacQuarrie has extensive experience working with CPA firm technologies. He also has expertise in workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning, security and paperless office technologies.