Remember the old days when sending an email seemed high-tech? Now we're all on Twitter (or at least I am), and using social networking sites to expand our business and connect with clients and colleagues.
One of my favorite online tools is LinkedIn. As an image consultant, it's great for virtual networking-with the added bonus that I don't have to wear heels or make small talk over canapés! What many people don't realize though is that LinkedIn has more advanced features that can help you promote your services with just the few clicks of a mouse. Here's how:
Create a profile. Think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume. Even if you aren't looking for a job, your skills and past work experience can help you make contacts with people in related areas. Add a photo and a link to your business site or blog, and always keep your information up-to-date.
Make friends. Invite fellow LinkedIn members from your email address book, whether it's a former client or your accountant. Joining groups relevant to your interests can also maximize your experience. You never know where it might lead!
Add recommendations. Ask a few trusted colleagues-it should be someone you've actually had a positive working experience with-to kindly write a brief testimonial for your profile. You can return the favor!
Make postings. Do you blog regularly? Posting news items on your profile can establish yourself as an expert in your field. Look into linking your profile to your blog or Twitter feed. If you don't blog, you should still aim to post an update at least once a week. It could be a special you're offering, news of a project you're working on, or a link to an interesting article-just keep it professional.
Get talking. Starting a discussion is another good way to make new contacts. LinkedIn's Answers section lets you post a question for others to answer, or you can give your two cents on a pressing query (searchable by topic). You can also chat to fellow members by emailing them through the site (hit the contact button). If you don't know the person well, you should introduce yourself and mention a connection in the first two sentences (ex: "I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that we've both worked for XYZ Inc.").
Whether you're job-hunting or simply looking to expand your business network, LinkedIn can be a wonderful resource. Just make sure you're making the most of your experience!